The NHL is making a conscious effort to draw more eyeballs from Europe. According to a report at Sports Business Daily, that is what is driving the league’s increase in weekend afternoon games this season. The league has changed the start time of nearly 50 games this season for the purpose of broadcasting games in prime time across Europe. The afternoon games will be dubbed as the “European game of the week” in those foreign markets.
This is a move that makes a lot of sense for the NHL. That league has a higher percentage of European-born players than any of the other three major American pro sports leagues. The NHL has also played a number of exhibition games in Finland, Sweden and other European countries for years.
The goal in the United States is to have marquee weekend matchups start at 2 pm. That would put the games on at 7pm in London and at 8pm across most of Western Europe. The timing shouldn’t be a problem for games played on the East Coast. It will be interesting to see how many European games of the week feature the Golden Knights, Sharks, or other West Coast powers.