Hockey’s Premier Event Regulated to ‘the Bar Network,’ NBCSN. Meanwhile the NBA is Everywhere
The National Hockey League, which fairly recently canceled its entire season that got it kicked off ESPN and onto an obscure cable outlet, has blundered again.
It has a contract with NBC but few of its Stanley Cup FInal games are actually on NBC. Instead, they are on NBCSN, the obscure cable outlet that replaced Versus, the previous obscure cable outlet. You might as well call it the “Bar Network,” because the only place many Americans can see NBCSN is in a bar.
Furthermore, the NHL’s Stanley Cup Final schedule makes no sense. The first game was on a Wednesday (an odd choice, considering its mid-week location on the calendar) and Game 2 was not until three full days later on a Saturday. Where’s the fan and PR momentum from Game 1, which happened to finish in overtime with the upstart LA Kings taking a 1-0 series lead. These two games were in the same market, New Jersey.
Then, Game 3 was held two days later on a Monday (yes, a Monday, instead of a Sunday, a result of the Saturday game). The teams had to fly across the country (the Kings did not arrive in Los Angeles until 3:30 in the morning on Sunday; the Devils took a later charter and landed at noon. Then they played the next night (and the Devils seemed as if they were still in New Jersey, the Kings winning 4-0, with three of those goals coming in the third period).
Compare this to the NBA, which has a game on every single night. You know where to find it – TBS – and on weekends on ABC or ESPN. You can, but don’t have to, go to a bar to watch the NBA Playoffs.
The NHL is off-center ice on another matter, too. After the Stanley Cup Final, it’s going to lock out the players. Again, It was just back in 2004-05 that the league did the same, could not negotiate a settlement, and wound up canceling the entire season.
If that happens again, next season’s Stanley Cup Final may be on your local cable access channel.