Puck the Media’s Hockey Network of the Decade… NBC


(Today, Puck the Media features my picks for various decade-ending awards. I hope you enjoy them.)

Ready to go knockdown drag-out on this one? Here’s my thesis: Despite a lack of game coverage, despite turning down Doc Emrick’s mic to the point of almost inaudibility, despite having essentially a three-man booth, despite cutting from the OT of a Stanley Cup Playoff game to show horses walking around… NBC has saved hockey on network broadcast television in the states, has done an outright better job of televising it than any other network in the United States, competes neck-and-neck with CBC during the Stanley Cup Final as far as better coverage goes, and has – all things considered – done more to advance the way the sport of hockey is televised than TSN, VERSUS, CBC and others combined. For those reasons, NBC is the hockey network of the decade.

Think about it. Winter Classic? NBC. Inside the Glass? NBC. New camera angles to show different views of power plays? NBC. Best Stanley Cup Final ratings since the 70’s? NBC. Those theatrical debates between Pierre McGuire and Mike Milbury, before Milbury turned into the boogieman of hockey coverage? NBC. These are all things that have gotten hockey into the mainstream. Every single one of these ideas is a positive effort to make the sport more telegenic, more fan friendly, and closer to the players.

CBC’s HD work is fantastic, and TSN has a good studio show. VERSUS has been solid on the game telecasts. The point is, however, that all of them are merely pushing the status quo. NBC doesn’t broadcast enough games, we know that. They should not miss a week between January and the Stanley Cup Final, particularly after the Super Bowl. However, NBC tries new things. They break ground, at times without even trying. They’re willing to take chances on the sport that other networks simply haven’t. They are relevant to today’s hockey viewer without annoying the old guard. That is why they mattered more than any other hockey network this decade. Sue me.

Honorable Mention: You know who broadcast hockey this decade, they’re all in there.

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About stevelepore
Steve Lepore is the Managing Editor of Puck the Media. His work has been featured in The Hockey News. Feel free to contact him at stevemlepore@gmail.com

12 Responses to Puck the Media’s Hockey Network of the Decade… NBC

  1. Tony says:

    CBC IS BY FAR THE GREATEST HOCKEY NETWORK IN THE WORLD! NOTHING BEATS HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA….THE PASSION THEY HAVE FOR THE SPORT. THEIR OPENING INTRODUCTIONS, PLAY-BY-PLAY VOICES SUCH AS BOB COLE, JIM HUGHSON, AND MARK LEE CANNOT BE BEAT! CBC AT LEAST SHOWS THE NATIONAL ANTHEMS AND KNOWS HOW TO BROADCAST A GAME WIWTHOUT THE MILLIONS OF ADVERTISING THEMES! YOU GUYS ARE INSANE NOT TO CHOSE CBC!

  2. Chris says:

    You’re way off on this one Steve. CBC shows the Winter Classic, Saturday night doubleheaders (with as many as 4 games!), Hockey Day in Canada, nightly playoff doubleheaders! You’ve got to be freaking kidding me if you think NBC is the Network of the Decade. Not by a long shot! TSN blows NBC out of the water even.

  3. Chris says:

    CBC just debuted the All-Access Camera too. You know, the one which you control online. Last time I checked, NBC didn’t even stream their games online. CBC does.

  4. Josh says:

    “Pierre McGuire and Mike Milbury, before Milbury turned into the boogieman of hockey coverage? NBC.”

    It sounds as if you think that nonsense was a positive. I found those little vignettes unwatchable and entirely too contrived.

    “These are all things that have gotten hockey into the mainstream.”

    Ah, but *whose* mainstream? The fact of the matter is that you can’t compare the networks – the play different roles, and don’t even have access to the same content. Is Versus coming into its own, for what it does? Sure. Is NBC starting to do some things right with hockey? Absolutely. Is TSN challenging CBC for hockey broadcasting supremacy in Canada? On some nights, it is. Is CBC, for better or worse, still the standard-bearer? You bet they are. There’s just no comparison between them all – frankly, it’s a ridiculous game to play, to try and pretend there is.

    And you know? I’ll show you a couple million people who think the best hockey broadcasts are airing on a network you don’t watch, where they don’t even speak your language, Steve.

  5. Justin says:

    I agree with Steve in this because NBC is what has saved hockey on broadcast TV in the US. I agree with all of you that CBC does put a great product out there but up until last year we in the US didn’t even get a steady amount of CBC games (thanks NHL network for that). In order to see the CBC we had to have center ice and even then we didn’t get feed very often. I suppose this category should be best in the US and best in Canada.

  6. Trent says:

    CBC has the first NHL Outdoor game in 2003, the Heritage Classic between Edmonton & Montreal. ESPN had Barry Melrose at rinkside 10 years ago.

    I am not trying to take anything away from NBC as I rather enjoy the NBC broadcasts however.

  7. Al says:

    I think the point w/ this choice and Don Cherry before as studio analyst is more about relevance than quality. HNIC on CBC goes back to 1952 while TSN started in 1984(?), so they have a headstart over NBC/Versus. Also, the Canadian networks don’t have to worry about explaining minor things like icing, offsides, etc…

    If we’re judging by quality, CBC would be the best hockey network then followed by TSN. If we’re going by most impact over the decade, NBC is the winner because they gave the NHL network credibility in the U.S. after ESPN opted out of its contract. Everybody in the U.S. have and know what NBC is but not as many people get Versus or even know it exists.

    Aolng w/ the Winter Classic on New Year’s Day (More NBC’s idea than CBC’s) and inside-the-glass reporting, NBC has more playoff broadcasts than Fox and ABC did. NBC televised a game on both Saturday and Sunday during the first 3 weekends of the playoffs every year while Fox and later on ABC only did 1 game a weekend.

    Bottom line is NBC, post-lockout, has made the NHL more relevant and attractive to viewers in America. BTW, I’m a big fan of CBC’s and TSN’s broadcasts. I’m not bashing Canadian TV.

  8. Alex says:

    TSN is my winner of the decade because their broadcast is flawless from beginning to end – when I can catch them. (I’m from Hockeytown). They don’t speak to the viewer like they speak to average U.S. citizens, rather, they speak to knowledgeable viewers (Canadians obviously) who know exactly what they are talking about regarding the play or the game. They speak this way because they know that the viewer will get it without newb-coating it. NBC / VS dumb it down quite often.

  9. Ricky Muncie says:

    The thing about NBC is, you can’t forget that NBC switched from regional GAMES of the week to one national game of the week. In doing so, they completely cut out many teams from ANY coverage during regular aeason. For example, since the switch, the San Jose Sharks, one of the best teams since the switch to a national game of the week, have yet to appear on NBC’s Game of the Week in the regular season and only appear in playoffs if they face Detroit. They are not scheduled to appear this season either. Quite pathetic that because “NBC saved NHL on broadcast TV” that the NHL gives them so much control on dictating matchups televised and only picking from a small handful of teams.

  10. Rich says:

    NBC likes to point out every American that’s playing in the games they televise. They will tell you the player’s home town if they’re American. If they played college hockey, but are Canadian, they will point out the player’s college but never his home town or country. Are they subtly trying to suggest to their naive viewers that most of the players are American?

  11. Rich says:

    NBC likes to point out every American that’s playing in the games they televise. They will tell you the player’s home town if they’re American. If they played American college hockey, but are Canadian, they will point out the player’s college but never his home town or country. Are they subtly trying to suggest to their naive viewers that most of the players are American?

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