Letter: Abuse of the NHL blackout rules | SteamboatToday.com

Letter: Abuse of the NHL blackout rules

I am a hockey fan. I played organized hockey from the age of 7 through college. I moved to Colorado in 1969 and played games in the local amateur checking league until I realized that I had become too old to be a ringer. I moved to other sports and gave away my equipment to my brother, a high school hockey coach.

I was thrilled when the Nordiques came to Denver and became the Colorado Avalanche. I bought season tickets to the Avalanche at McNichols and continued to renew them at the Pepsi Center until I retired and moved to Steamboat Springs.

I am a Comcast customer. I understand that the Kroenke family, which owns the Avalanche and its sole broadcast provider Altitude Sports Network, is in a dispute with Comcast and Dish Network. I do not contest the Kroenke family’s right to negotiate favorable agreements. However, the Kroenkes should not be using fans as leverage by blacking out hockey games on the NHL Network, NBC, NBC Sports and Center Ice, abusing the NHL blackout rules.

The announcement by the Avalanche on July 27, that Comcast and Dish Network subscribers would not be able to watch Avalanche games, but the games were available through other outlets, was unbelievable hubris.

I had hoped that the Kroenkes and the NHL would allow national networks and Center Ice to locally broadcast Avalanche games during the 2021-22 season. Such is not the case. The Avalanche games continue to be blacked out in Colorado to this day.

The supposed rationale for blackout is to encourage in-person attendance and to support local networks. The Avalanche games are not available to fans in person because of COVID-19. The Kroenkes do not lose seat revenue by allowing network broadcasts of Avalanche games. It is a stretch to claim that the Altitude Network needs the support of blackout.

I do not believe that the public is served by the common ownership of the Avalanche and its broadcast network. The complete disregard of the Avalanche and, as I understand it, the Nuggets fan bases is worthy of further investigative reporting by the newspapers serving those fans.

It may also be time for state or federal government to step in and break up the monopoly enjoyed by the Kroenkes in a segment of entertainment that should be but is not available to the public, especially during the “stay at home” mandated by COVID-19.

Brian Fitzgerald

Steamboat Springs

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