The NHL on FOX in the 90’s was pure magic. I may be one of the few people that look on this period in hockey history fondly. From glowing pucks to cheesy commercials this was heaven for me in my younger days. The league caught lightning in a bottle, and while hockey purists hated it, it did have a lot of casual fans interested for awhile. Yes it needed to be refined but it was ahead of its time.
The the LA Kings brought the “glow puck” back last season for one special 90s nostalgia night. It was sharp looking and less distracting and maybe the NHL should give it one more shot. But in truth, Fox’s coverage of the NHL was so much more than just a streaking glow across your screen.
The FOX GLOW PUCK!
In 1994, Fox won the NHL broadcasting contract and honestly put some great effort into it. From great commercials to broadcast innovations, they went all in. One of the most common complaints, that you still hear today is how difficult the puck can be to follow on the ice. The FoxTrax puck was introduced during the All Star Game in 1996. The reaction was mixed, but many casual viewers loved it because they could finally see where the puck was at all times. Hardcore fans mostly hated it, because all of a sudden it looked like a beach ball on a player’s stick. The glow faded away in 1998 when ABC obtained the broadcasting rights and has really never been seen again.
Another awesome thing about the NHL on Fox were the cool commercials. I’m sorry but the Messier and Gretzky “Odd Couple” skit was the best ever.
Looking back at it, the FoxTrax Puck was a great idea that technology was too far behind on. I wonder if revamped today, what it would look like? Can it be better than what LA did? Maybe it can go on and off, like when the puck is on the near boards and we can’t actually see the puck, or lost in a scrum in the crease? Or for video replays? It certainly warrants consideration, especially as the popularity of hockey on TV is growing.
You know what was the coolest thing about hockey on Fox? The robots! Yes, the robots were first a hockey thing NFL fans. Check out the video clip below from the Rangers game 6 series clinching win in 1996. It’s loaded with glowing pucks and animated robots. More importantly, it’s full of great memories for many hockey fans over 30. You know, maybe the NHL should dip back into their bag of old tricks. They could work to bring back aspects of this and more in their broadcasting and marketing strategies.