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.