What Is Hockey Day? (What to Expect)

Posted on May 4, 2020 by Dan Kent
hockey day

If you’re a hockey fan who is new to the NHL, you may have heard rumblings about something called “Hockey Day.” What happens on Hockey Day? Is Hockey Day the same in Canada and the United States? Does it fall on the same day every year? Can you participate in Hockey Day or watch it somewhere specific? This article will fill you in on everything about Hockey Day.

Hockey Day occurs as a separate event in both Canada and the United States. On “Hockey Day in Canada,” six of the NHL’s seven Canadian teams play each other on TV in a triple-header on the same day. In the US, it’s a weekend called “Hockey Weekend Across America,” which concludes with “Hockey Day in America.” They similarly air a triple-header of American NHL team games. Special events and tournaments are included for the two Hockey Days.

What Is Hockey Day?

Hockey Day is a special event that occurs in both Canada and the United States. It’s relatively new, beginning in Canada in 2000 and in the US as of 2011.

In Canada, the event is known as “Hockey Day in Canada.” In the US, it’s “Hockey Weekend in America,” the second day of which is called “Hockey Day in America.”

hockey players with referee

Both Hockey Days revolve around a cross-country celebration of the sport of hockey and the NHL.

Both Hockey Days already happened for 2020, and remain ongoing moving into future years.

What Happens on Hockey Day

On TV, a triple-header of NHL games airs as part of each Hockey Day.

Though the games are specially scheduled and broadcasted as part of Hockey Day, they are standard regular season NHL games. There are no special rules or modifications, and the games count in the standings as they normally would.

For Canada, six Canadian NHL teams will play against each other in the three games. In the US, six American NHL teams play against each other.

The Canadian edition of Hockey Day used to be simpler because between 2000 (the first year of Hockey Day in Canada) and 2010 there were only six Canadian NHL teams.

The Winnipeg Jets rejoined the league in 2011, so now there’s an odd number of Canadian teams. This means that one gets left out each year of the Hockey Day in Canada match-ups.

In the US, Hockey Day in America frequently features three games with American “original six” NHL teams. These teams include the Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Blackhawks, Boston Bruins, and New York Rangers – they, along with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens, were the NHL’s first six teams, so they have storied franchise histories.

Hockey Day in America also usually includes outdoor NHL games, which are known as the Stadium Series. In 2020, the Colorado Avalanche played the Los Angeles Kings on an ice surface at Falcon Stadium in Colorado state.

On one occasion, Hockey Day in America even featured a fourth game, making it a quadruple-header.

In addition to the NHL portion of Hockey Day, the day and weekend can involve children’s tournaments on outdoor ice rinks and other special events.

How to Watch Hockey Day

Hockey Day in Canada is a modified version of Hockey Night in Canada (HNIC). HNIC is a long-running broadcast of NHL hockey on CBC Television in Canada.

HNIC typically airs hockey throughout the season, but it is especially known for its tradition of a Saturday night game, usually featuring the Toronto Maple Leafs or Montreal Canadiens.

hockey day in canada

Hockey Day in Canada also airs on CBC Television, which is part of Canada’s national broadcaster, CBC. The broadcast is hosted out of a different main city each year, with additional crews attending the locations of the three games.

Hockey Day in Canada 2020, for example, was held in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. The event was sponsored by Scotiabank, and the Edmonton Oilers were the Canadian team that was left out of 2020 Hockey Day – they instead played the Nashville Predators.

Hockey Weekend Across America and Hockey Day in America broadcast the NHL games on NBC. The broadcast headquarters can shift depending on where the Day’s games are located.

When Is Hockey Day?

Hockey Day in Canada and Hockey Weekend Across America most often occur in the month of February. On a few occasions, though, they have been held in January and March.

The Days are always held close to February so that outdoor hockey events can proceed most successfully.

A reasonable degree of cold weather is required for outdoor ice to meet playable conditions for the special events that accompany Hockey Day.

The broadcasts are typically hosted outdoors and show the festivities on the open-air rinks.

Hockey Day in Canada vs. America: The Differences

The main difference between Hockey Day in Canada and America is about how it’s presented as an event.

Hockey is Canada’s national sport, so Hockey Day serves more as a reminder and celebration of the game. It also allows for traditional rivalry games between the league’s well-acquainted Canadian teams.

The US is still passionate about hockey, but not to the same extent as Canada. So part of the motivation behind starting Hockey Weekend Across America was to expand interest in hockey and the NHL – in addition to celebrating its already relatively popular status.

At the first Hockey Weekend in America in 2011, some special events included a “Try Hockey for Free” clinic and a “Bring a Friend to the Rink Day.” These parts of Hockey Weekend emphasize the introductory angle of the American Hockey Day.

hockey day game

Hockey has continued to grow in popularity over the near decade since Hockey Weekend in America debuted. It still trails the NFL, MLB, and NBA in popularity, but it’s gained ground since the start of the 21st century.

Hockey Day is a special celebration of the sport of hockey and the NHL across North America. Canada and the US host Hockey Day separately. But they similarly broadcast at least a triple-header of NHL games. They also hold special events and outdoor tournaments as part of the Hockey Days, which grow the game and celebrate the tradition of the game and NHL.

Dan Kent

About the author

Growing up in a hockey hotbed (Calgary, Alberta. And yes, I'm an Oiler fan), I decided to put my love and knowledge of the game to work. I started at five and am still playing today into my early 30s. By acquiring Brave Stick Hockey and rebranding it to Big Shot Hockey in 2023, I plan to teach people about this great game and educate them on the best equipment and history of the game. On a career level, I am in finance, running one of the largest financial websites in Canada, Stocktrades.ca.

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