The NHL's Thanksgiving play

Updated: November 3, 2011, 2:59 PM ET
By Craig Custance

Retailers see the day after Thanksgiving as the biggest shopping day of the year. NHL COO John Collins saw a gaping hole in the sports schedule. And opportunity.

Since masterminding the Winter Classic, Collins has made a name for himself for his ability to create must-see events on the NHL calendar. Those events create league revenue, but the most important thing for hockey fans is that they create buzz for the NHL in a competitive sports landscape.

On Wednesday, the league announced details surrounding the Discover NHL Thanksgiving Showdown, which will take place on the Friday afternoon following Thanksgiving. The Boston Bruins will host the Detroit Red Wings in an attempt to get the league on the national sports radar a little sooner than the Winter Classic.

"Obviously the NFL has done real well with Thanksgiving, but that Friday is open," Collins said during a Wednesday phone conversation. "It gives us a big event that we can all focus on and leverage and get people focused on hockey and the NHL."