Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Why the wait?

So, the Ducks dispatched with the Red Wings in six games, getting those pesky conference finals out of the way nice and early (May 22) and setting up — you would think — an early start to the Stanley Cup finals.

That's not what we're getting, however, and my guess is no one will be surprised by the fact that American television interests explain why.

You see, the league's cable partner, Versus, the savvy, rodeo-showin' enterprise that it is, negotiated and received the rights to the least two important games of the finals: Game 1 and Game 2. When those games would be, however, wasn't their domain, not when the big dog on the block, NHL Regulation on NBC, has a say.

And with Game 3 set to be punted to prime time on a major U.S. network, it only stands to reason that it fall on that prime Saturday spot where it can be hidden away and ignored (barring a big horsey race, mind you).

Now, with the conference finals ending on a Tuesday, and Anaheim's duck pond booked for one of those god-awful ice shows on Saturday, there was no way NBC was getting Games 3 and 6 on consecutive Saturdays beginning this weekend. Instead we've got a May 28 start on a Monday, followed by a Wednesday night game, followed by another two nights off — all in the interest of kowtowing to NHL Regulation on NBC's overlords.

What it means is that the Ottawa Senators will have played a grand total of two games, both on the road, in the two weeks leading up to Game 3 at home. What it also means is that the last possible date the season can end has been pushed to June 11, which, as we we've all come to learn, is the best possible month to play for hockey's ultimate prize.

At least there'll only be a two-day break before the year-end awards show.

NBC, after all, didn't want the broadcast rights.


At 8:20 a.m., May 23, 2007, Anonymous David Johnson said...

It is Wednesday, May 23 and the Stanley Cup finals have been set. If the series goes to 7 games a Stanley Cup champion won't be determined until Monday, June 11, a full 19 days from now. Nineteen days to play 7 games? That's nuts.

I remember the good old days when tams would play on alternating nights, Campbell conference on one night, Wales conference on the other night. The whols players took 8 weeks give or take a couple days and the schedule was easy to follow and everyone knew when they would play next without having to refer to a schedule. Funny thing is, that is when hockey mattered in most of the U.S. cities in which it played and hockey had first rights on most if not all arenas (even over basketball). Oh how times have changed. Now the NHL is a second rate citizen in many (most?) arenas and the NHL is messing with its schedule to appease a TV network that has limited availability and audience and another network that pays nothing to broadcast games and who willingly abandons games that go to overtime.

At 8:53 a.m., May 23, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

NBC has no business broadcasting NHL games. It should be on a major sports network like ESPN. The only reason that it works for CBC is that they don't have any other "real" programming.

I think NBC basically wanted to wait until May sweeps were over.

At 9:25 a.m., May 23, 2007, Blogger FAUXRUMORS said...

1) To our friends up in the Great White North. Don't blame NBC for the inane Finals schedule. Yes, the NHL formulated it to fit their needs, but it was Bettman et al who gave them this control
2) Much like the fiasco of the Preakness, its the NHL's fault for how all this plays out. THEY decide who their broadcast partners are, and what rules to live by
3) As has been the case in his tenure Bettman is being short sighted and taking many of the most loyal fans for granted

At 10:57 a.m., May 23, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hopefully during his annual "State of the Union" address on the CBC Bettman is ripped to shreds by Red Deer Ronnie McLean.
Only in the NHL do the paying TV customers of Canada get screwed over in favour of NBC's informercial deal.
We can't start this series now...We have that all star tribute to Dick Clark and Ed McMahon's Bloopers and Practical Jokes to air.
It's time to tell the slimy Commish and his welfare sucking American small market owners to screw off.
Canada is paying the bills in terms of TV deals, we should get first say.ippbp

At 11:10 a.m., May 23, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

....And here I trhough that Game seven would be saved for Fall sweeps!

We are seeing the systematic destruction of hockey for the false premise that showing the game on random weekends at random time will draw in a random fan on some random national network.

The fiasco involving the Sabres - Sens game was deliberate. It is a way for the NHL to prove to us that we need to eliminate OT and go straight to the shootout. It is too coincidental that the talking heads have decided to complain about double OT and then this happens.

At 11:37 a.m., May 23, 2007, Blogger Jeremy said...

I could see spreading out the games (even just a bit) in the first round or two, when there are so many series to watch that you can't possibly watch them all. It would have been great for many teams like the Canucks who were battling injuries in the first round -- I think they only got a one-day break between rounds.

But once it gets down to the conference finals and the weather outside is glorious, I would think they'd want to have a game on every night. As the semi-finals were starting, I was interested in the matchups and would have liked to watch, but I kept missing them...took it for granted that there would be a game on after supper and there never seemed to be.

I really like the matchup for the finals, but summer's here. Company coming, winery patios opening, beaches warming up...waiting a week between series just pushes hockey further out of everyone's minds...even in Canada.

At 3:17 p.m., May 23, 2007, Anonymous Kevin Forbes said...

Just took a real look at the 'revised' NBC/NHL logo. Very nice!

At 5:21 p.m., May 23, 2007, Blogger brian said...

Since the League is "gate-driven" it needs to stop trying to convert the heathen and cater to the faithful who attend the games by giving them what they want -- evening games at the same start times they've had all year.


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