Joe Gabor is the Director of NHL Network in Canada. He oversees the network's day-to-day operations in Canada, including acquisitions, programming and producing original content from league events. Gabor also works closely with John Shannon, the Executive Vice President of Programming and Production for the NHL and NHL Network. Recently, he was kind enough to take the time out to answer some questions I had about NHL Network.
Going Five Hole: In the NHLN’s recent press release, it talked about “5 original NHL Network game productions”. Are those games decided yet?
Joe Gabor: Yes, the 5 games are Ottawa/Buffalo October 27, Ottawa/Florida October 30, Carolina/Montreal December 21, Ottawa/St. Louis January 29 and Montreal/Atlanta March 6.
Do you have names in mind as far as the broadcasters?
No, our crew is decided closer to air date.
Are there plans to feature many of the upcoming World Junior Championship games from Ottawa this December?
All World Jr. coverage in Canada will be on TSN. NHL Network in the US I believe is doing some of their games but I only work on the Canadian side of things.
Shows like “Classic Series”, “Frozen in Time”, and “Vintage Games” are fantastic for hockey fans. Will there be any updates to these shows as well as any other new programming for the coming season?
Yes, we did five new 'Frozen in Time' shows and a handful of Classic Series/Vintage Games as well. More importantly we're launching a bunch of new shows this winter. Some are still in development but two new ones that have already started are 'Voices' which will focus in on each of the play-by-play guys around the league, i.e. show 1 was Joe Bowen in Toronto. Our other new series is 'A Day that Changed the Game' and as the title says you can surmise the concept. Our first show was the day Gretzky got traded. Another show will be the day Jacques Plante first wore a mask.
As much as I love NHLN, one of my issues was the lack of programming over the summer. I understand there’s no need for a nightly “On the Fly” perhaps, but why not a weekly show recapping all the week’s news, free agent signings, press conferences, etc.? Hockey fans are dying every summer for news and I think a show like that would be received very well.
We're looking into the possibility of a weekly 'On the Fly' for next summer but it is still tentative.
Fantasy hockey is huge as I’m sure you know and that was made even more evident with the NHL partnering with Yahoo recently. Do you think fans will see a weekly fantasy hockey show in the future?
Yes, we'll be launching a fantasy show starting this winter, start date tbd.
What are you most excited for this season on the NHLN?
Most excited...having 11 games involving Canadian teams (Ottawa and Montreal). Nice to be able to carry some games with those teams for Canadian fans.
Any other types of programming you guys are working on for the future?
We're working on lots of new shows but sorry...can't tip our hat on those just yet.
Thanks to Joe Gabor for the interview and giving puck heads a preview of what's to come on NHL Network.