Hockey is back! Like a typical Canadian, I grew up watching hockey. I have many fond memories of cold winters, hot fires, ice skates and the NHL. I grew up watching the Vancouver Canucks and the Russian Rocket, Pavel Bure. I've followed hockey for quite a few years, and none more than the last four or five. I've grown from being a Canucks fan to being just a hockey fan, and while I'll always follow and cheer for the Canucks, I find myself enjoying NHL games that don't involve the Canucks. This year I've joined a hockey pool, giving me even more reason to watch games all across the country as I may have a player in one or more of those teams that could affect my hockey pool. Hockey has never been more exciting!

Unfortunately, watching hockey can get expensive. I live too far away to go to an actual game, so I've settled for watching on TV. There is a premium price associated with that, even. I know a lot of Canadians have cut the cord and dropped their cable package, and with amazing offerings from Netflix and other online content providers, there's less and less reason to get a cable package – unless you're a sports fan. The big advantage sports has over other TV shows is that the vast majority of people want to watch it live. Hockey, like most sports, loses a lot when you already know the outcome of a game. If you want to watch a sporting even live, you'll either have to subscribe to a TV provider or go to a pub. So what options do you have when it comes to watching the NHL? How much is it going to cost? Here's your options.

Watch Hockey For Free

The free option is the best for those of you that are casual fans of the sport. Like watching hockey, but only with friends? Don't pay anything; just arrange for watching at your friends house or meet up at the pub. If there's a particular game on that you want to watch without costing you anything, search online for a free stream of the game. There's always a couple of streams available. I've found a good resource is to visit the people from They usually have “game day” threads for each game – inside that thread someone will link to an online stream that is available. Just be warned, the quality will be subpar at best. If the game you're looking for is local, you can sometimes get TV for free if your area is broadcasting that channel over the air. Do some research and see what's available for free in your area.

Cheap Ways To See Hockey

Different TV providers have different TV packages that could be available. If over the air TV isn't available and you want to watch the game from home, you'll have to subscribe to someone. Do some research in advance and know what channel(s) the hockey games will be on. Just go for the local channels and maybe a “sports pack” if they are available. If you have an HDTV, consider what costs the equipment and upgrade to HD would cost – watching hockey becomes much easier and more pleasurable when you have the increased picture size. If you are not already subscribed, inquire about a promotional rate – you can always cancel the subscription in June when the hockey season is over.

NHL Center Ice

Already have the fancy cable package with the HD equipment? Are you looking to watch more hockey games that are not on your local TV channels? NHL Center Ice is often misunderstood. If you have a favorite local team and you only want to watch those games, then it is a waste of money for you. It will only show out of market games that would not normally be available on your TV, so if you moved across the country and are missing your team, then it may be a good option. This year, due to the lockout, NHL Center Ice is available for $50 for the 48 game season. If you haven't had it before and want to try it – this is the year. Normally the whole season is around $160+, so this is a good chance to see if you'll use it over the next few years. This is provided through your local cable provider. If you have a Digital Video Recorder you'll enhance the experience, as NHL Center Ice will only be broadcasting during game time, the rest of the time those channels will be blank.

NHL GameCenter Live

NHL Game Center is very different from NHL Center Ice. It does air live games, but it airs them through an online streaming service as opposed to through your cable provider. You do not need a cable subscription to take advantage of Game Center. You will, however, need an internet streaming device like a computer, game console, or hand held device. The nice thing about NHL Game Center is that all the games are “recorded” for you, so a day or two after the game you can rewatch games that have already happened. This is best if you know you're going to be missing a lot of games and will still want to watch them when you can. Some reviews have said that the streams are poor quality and laggy, but that may be dependent on your internet connection and the particular game.

Are you glad hockey is back? How much do you love hockey? How much are you paying to enjoy hockey this season?

About Alan Schram

Alan Schram writes about personal finance and his encounters with it in his everyday life. Alan is recently married and is looking to save money on expenses and reduce his debts.