Columbus Blue Jackets and NHL Lose Out with “Rivalry Night”

COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 28: Matt Calvert
COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 28: Matt Calvert /

The Columbus Blue Jackets face off against the Buffalo Sabres in Wednesday Night Rivalry on NBC Sports.

Everyone in the sports world knows that the Buffalo Sabres and Columbus Blue Jackets aren’t rivals. They never have been and never will be. Even when Marcus Foligno was playing in Western New York the two teams weren’t even close to rivals.

Everyone in the sports world also knows that sports is a business. One that is all about maximizing profits now. Not growing the game to make future revenue or make decisions that will payoff three fold in years to come. That should be obvious to anyone that knows how the NHL handled the Olympic situation.

It is also obvious when looking at the situation with the Jackets lone nationally televised game. The Buffalo media market has long been the best in the United States when it comes to hockey. Columbus, not so much.

Columbus Blue Jackets
Columbus Blue Jackets /

Columbus Blue Jackets

So when a network is forced to put a team on national television that won’t draw well, the network can maximize its viewership (and revenue) by putting the Sabres on as well. This is the network’s job. I understand it but am not particularly thrilled about it as I’m sure many CBJ fans are not happy.

Sacrificing Long Term Growth for Dollars Now

The NHL has proven once again it is willing to sacrifice future growth of the game and revenue for small short team gains. By not choosing to highlight a legitimate rivalry that the Columbus Blue Jackets have the NHL is loosing a great marketing opportunity to new fans in Ohio and around the country.

To quote Greg Wyshynski, “there aren’t “people who don’t like hockey,” but rather people who have yet to let the light of hockey into their hearts.” Those folks represent the biggest financial growth for the league and there are millions in Ohio. Every chance to showcase the Jackets on a big stage the league should see as a huge opportunity for future growth.

I get that the Jackets are not going to get 12 nationally televised games, nor should they. But with the one they do have you are going to waste it on a fake rivalry.

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You can’t fake passion and emotion and sports fans know a rivalry when they see one on T.V. The casual sports fan that is tuning in for the first time to see a “rivalry” is going to see the lie immediately.

It’s too bad that this is the matchup the Jackets get on Wednesday night. If only they had Wednesday night game against a legitimate rival on the schedule this year. Wednesday December 27th against the Pittsburgh Penguins perhaps.