Hurricanes Renew with FOX in Deal That Will Get Every Game on TV By 2013-14

Real good news for the great fans in Carolina from Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News & Observer:

The Carolina Hurricanes have signed a new television rights deal that general manager Jim Rutherford calls a “big step” for the franchise.

The Hurricanes and Fox Sports Carolinas have reached a multi-year agreement that will bring the team added exposure and added revenue, and could enhance their opportunity to pursue some of the league’s best free agents. Beginning in the 2013-2014 season, all of the Canes games — regular-season and playoffs — will be televised by Fox Sports Carolinas or by the NHL’s national TV partners.

“Based on where we started when we first came into this market (in 1997), it’s big for us,” Rutherford said Thursday. “While not getting into the specifics, it’s a long-term deal with a nice increase in rights fees. It helps strengthen our business.”

Under the current television deal, 65 of the Hurricanes’ 82 regular-season games are being shown this season. The number of the televised games will remain the same in the 2012-2013 season.

NHL Net Switches From Caps to Sabres on Saturday

In the heat of the intense Eastern Conference playoff race, the NHL Network is making a change to it’s live game schedule this Saturday night, from one contender to another.

Instead of the originally schedule Capitals/Canadiens showdown, most markets will see the Sabres taking on the Maple Leafs, giving viewers the Hockey Night in Canada experience regardless, according to the NHL. Due to blackout restrictions, viewers in the Buffalo market will be able to see the Capitals/Canadiens game.

NHL Network airs the entire first half of the HNIC broadcast, starting with Scotiabank Hockey Tonight at 6:30 p.m. ET.

11 Games on NBC and NBCSN in the Season’s Final Week

NEW YORK – Mar. 29, 2012 – With NHL teams fighting to either make the playoffs or jockeying for crucial playoff positioning, the NBC Sports Group will conclude the 2011-12 NHL regular season with its most comprehensive final week of coverage ever, presenting 11 games over the final seven nights of the season across NBC and the NBC Sports Network.

Final-week coverage begins Sunday at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC with the Philadelphia Flyers traveling to Pittsburgh to take on the Penguins in the NHL Game of the Week. Later that night, the NBC Sports Network will air primetime coverage of the Rangers taking on the Bruins at 7 p.m. ET in New York.

After six more games are aired on the NBC Sports Network from Monday-Friday, the NBC Sports Group’s regular-season coverage concludes with a triple-header on Saturday, April 7, beginning with Chicago at Detroit at 1 p.m. ET on NBC. NBC Sports Network will follow with Philadelphia at Pittsburgh at 4 p.m. ET and Washington at New York at 6:30 p.m. ET.

NBC Sports Group Final-Week NHL Schedule (all times ET, subject to change):

Date Game Time Network

Sun., April 1 Philadelphia at Pittsburgh 12:30 p.m. NBC

Boston at New York Rangers 7 p.m. NBCSN

Mon., April 2 Washington at Tampa Bay 7 p.m. NBCSN

Tues., April 3 Pittsburgh at Boston 7:30 p.m. NBCSN

Anaheim at Vancouver 10 p.m. NBCSN

Wed., April 4 Detroit at St. Louis 7:30 p.m. NBCSN

Thurs., April 5 New York Rangers at Pittsburgh 7 p.m. NBCSN

Fri., April 6 Phoenix at St. Louis 7:30 p.m. NBCSN

Sat., April 7 Chicago at Detroit 1 p.m. NBC

Philadelphia at Pittsburgh 4 p.m. NBCSN

Washington at New York Rangers 6:30 p.m. NBCSN

BONUS GAME: NBC Sports Network has added bonus coverage and will be picking up tomorrow night’s (Friday) Dallas at Vancouver game at 10 p.m. ET.

COMMENTATORS: The team of Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick (play-by-play), Eddie Olczyk (analyst) and Pierre McGuire (‘Inside the Glass’ analyst) will call the action for Sunday’s game on NBC, NBC Sports Network’s Wednesday night game and NBC’s Saturday game in Detroit.

Dave Strader (play-by-play) and Brian Engblom (‘Inside the Glass’ analyst) will call Sunday’s game in New York. Rick Peckham (play-by-play) and McGuire will serve as announcers for Monday’s primetime coverage, with Strader and Engblom teaming up again for Tuesday’s game in Boston, as well as games in Pittsburgh on both Thursday and Saturday.

John Forslund (play-by-play) and Joe Micheletti (analyst) will be in St. Louis for Friday’s coverage, and Gord Miller (play-by-play) and Ray Ferraro (‘Inside the Glass’ analyst) will call New York’s last game of the regular season on Saturday night.

Liam McHugh and analyst Mike Milbury will cover all the intermissions for NBC Sports’ coverage. Additionally, McHugh hosts NHL Live and NBC Sports Network’s pre- and post-game studio show, where he is joined by analysts Milbury and Keith Jones.

NBCSPORTS.COM: NBCSports.com is the online destination for hockey fans. The website continues to stream the NHL Game of the Week, allowing users to follow all the action and providing them special features like “Star-Cam,” which follows marquee players throughout the game. NHL content areas on the site include ProHockeyTalk, one of NBCSports.com’s popular “Sports Talk” sites, also gives fans day-to-day coverage of the league with sharp analysis on every angle for the big stories of the day. NBCSports.com also has exclusive NHL videos wrapping-up all of the NHL action that day.

Dropping Bruins/Sabres Could Recall An NBC Mistake From Years Ago

The NHL and NBC continue to evolve with a special triple-header on the final day of hockey season, April 7th. They will be airing a Blackhawks/Red Wings game on NBC at 1 p.m. ET, followed by a doubleheader on NBC Sports Network featuring Flyers/Penguins and Capitals/Rangers. The three games were picked from a grand total of four games, the non-chosen to be sent back for the regional sports networks to air. That game featured the Buffalo Sabres taking on the Boston Bruins.

One can’t help but wonder if, after the Sabres’ thrashing 6-1 defeat of the Capitals Tuesday night (in a game that maybe NBC should have thought to flex in when the Lightning looked out of it around January) they aren’t regretting this decision. The Sabres are now a full two points clear of the Caps for the eighth and final playoff position in the Eastern Conference. It is clear that this will be a battle to the end for both teams, as neither seems capable of a 5-0/0-5 run down the stretch.

You have to wonder, if NBC wasn’t going to bother boosting their ratings with another Pens/Flyers game on the main network, why not just air Bruins/Sabres and Capitals/Rangers back-to-back? Wouldn’t that make for the most exciting doubleheader possible, attracting fans from at least four markets (Buffalo, DC and Boston and New York) to maintain their interest in staying tuned to NBCSN for well over five hours?

However, it isn’t the first time NBC has ended up making such a mistake. Back in 2007, the network seemed to think they were doing no harm by dropping a few games they had originally scheduled back to the local networks. This was when the network typically aired three regional games, but toward the end of that season, they were only choosing to air two per week. I think they only aired three games three or four times out of the nine scheduled blocks that season. Anyway, two of the games taken away were Devils games late in that season, which is why I have such a vivid memory of it. Oh well, the Devils aren’t a big ratings draw, and were secure in their playoff position, and it doesn’t look like either team they’re playing will be in a big must-win by then either…

But, as it turned out, one of them did, and as a consequence of dropping the game, missed out on one of the greatest, craziest regular season-ending games in National Hockey League history, as the Devils were defeated by the New York Islanders in a shootout at the Meadowlands, and the Islanders – in the season’s dying seconds – clinched a playoff spot just over the Toronto Maple Leafs. That’s right, NBC had the rights initially to Wade Dubliewicz’s and Richard Park’s heroics in New Jersey, a game I spoke to analyst Billy Jaffe, who as a benefit got to call the game on MSG, about late last year.

What an insane game. The Devils had clinched a division title and home ice in the post-season, so there was no real rooting interest. The Devils-Islanders rivalry, for someone my age, is fairly non-existant. I never even knew an Isles fan until sophomore year of high school, and even that was a chemistry teacher. I had no real problem with the Isles getting to the playoffs. In fact, as I recall in that interview, I was yelling out “Oh no!” with Billy Jaffe myself.

NBC ended up going with two much more meaningless games: a pre-Kane/Toews Blackhawks visiting the Dallas Stars, who’d clinched a playoff berth and a Pacific Division title. Meanwhile, the premiere game was the Sabres – again, clinched a playoff berth – visiting the Flyers, who were going through their worst season in franchise history. In retrospect, why on earth wouldn’t you air this game, at least regionally? It may only be two teams from one media market (and the lower rated of the two at that) but it probably would’ve broken some sort of record for non-Rangers regular season games in New York had it aired on NBC. It’s crazy to think that they didn’t.

I hope that there’s someway that NBC can revisit their decision to drop Bruins/Sabres, if only so they won’t miss out on whomever might become the world’s next Wade Dubliewicz.

NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Schedule in April

April 14, 3 p.m. ET - Conference Quarterfinal
April 15, 12 p.m. ET - Conference Quarterfinal
April 15, 3 p.m. ET - Conference Quarterfinal
April 21, 3 p.m. ET - Conference Quarterfinal
April 22, 12 p.m. ET - 
Conference Quarterfinal
April 22, 3 p.m. ET - 
Conference Quarterfinal
April 28, 3 p.m. ET –
Conference Semi-final
April 29, 3 p.m. ET  - 
Conference Semi-final

NBC, NBCSN to Air Tripleheader Headlined by Blackhawks/Red Wings on April 7th

Though prior listings had led me to believe that NBC would go with Flyers/Penguins three consecutive weeks to end the NHL season, that will not end up being the case.

The NBC Game of the Week on April 7th will be Blackhawks/Red Wings, live from Detroit at 1 p.m. ET. That will be followed by Flyers/Penguins, which will air on NBC Sports Network following an NHL Live in-between show at 3:30 p.m. ET. Capitals/Rangers will cap off the night at 6:30 p.m. ET. NHL Live follows, and everything will get wrapped up by a special hour-long NHL Overtime at 9:30 p.m. ET.

This will mark the second time this season NBC and NBC Sports Network have combined to air a triple-header. The networks have been combining to air two games each Sunday almost every week since January.

Has Ron MacLean Become Too Agenda-Driven on Hockey Night?

Ron MacLean is unquestionably one of the more respected men across hockey broadcasting. He fills a role similar to that of Bob Costas in the United States, although he used to be far less polarizing than he seems to have become in recent years. Used to be that most considered MacLean a consummate pro whom hockey fans comiserated with for his constant tolerance of Don Cherry over the years, and as one of the few interviewers across North America to attempt to get Gary Bettman off his talking points and on to something more interesting.

It’s true that MacLean is one of hockey’s most comforting voices. He hosts Hockey Day in Canada, an almost 10-hour broadcast, once a year with remarkable aplomb and affection for the sport. He is one of the most-watched personalities in Canada, based on Hockey Night’s perpetual ratings dominance, and you rarely hear anyone say a negative word about the guy. In the past couple of seasons, however, some things MacLean has said have gotten him in more trouble than the wildly wardrobed geriatric that sits beside him and figures out his puns on a seven second delay.

It started in 2010, when MacLean got flack for insisting that Vancouver Canucks’ star Alex Burrows was at fault, defending NHL official Stephane Auger – whom Burrows claimed to have told him “I’m gonna’ get you” – during an interview with then NHL dean of discipline Colin Campbell, which really felt more like MacLean cross-examining Campbell on the entire reputation of Burrows than anything else. MacLean, a certified referee with the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association, clearly took the side of Auger and took repeated shots at Burrows.

Now, that’s in the past, and MacLean has apologized to Canucks fans regarding Burrows (he has claimed that the piece had nothing to do with Burrows, but with officiating in general) on other occasions, but the entire issues seems to be entirely behind everyone, at least until Alex Burrows does something controversial again, which happens to be often.

But something caught my ear on Saturday, during the Satellite Hotstove segment featuring Eric Francis, Elliotte Friedman and Mike Milbury, which you can view here. The panel, which MacLean is supposed to be the moderator of, was discussing Duncan Keith’s five-game suspension for a headshot on Daniel Sedin. It starts out all well and good, but then MacLean spends a minute on his own attempting to prove (and successfully, mind you) that Duncan Keith has a history of retaliatory headshots, before then asking Mike Milbury his question. Later in the segment, he openly states that he felt Keith deserved 15-20 games for the hit.

Now you can agree or disagree with MacLean if you want, I personally don’t. That doesn’t matter. The point I’m making is: should Ron MacLean really be the person to say this when he’s supposed to be facilitating the discussion, rather than just saying something and having the rest of the panel react to it? Is he becoming too much like Don Cherry, who forces MacLean to either set him up or bounce off of him? Is this MacLean’s audition to replace Grapes when he rides off into the sunset?

I can’t speak to any of that, but there is someone whom Ron MacLean is starting to remind me more and more of, the comedian Bill Maher. Maher has hosted a politically centered, liberal-leaning panel show since the mid-90′s in a couple of different forms, most recently on HBO since 2002. However, Maher’s panel is clearly not meant to be one in the traditional sense, as he will butt in to give his opinion whenever he feels needed. This is also the case of many shows masquerading as “News Talk” on both the radio and cable news.

The question is: what should MacLean’s role be? Has he been around long enough to earn his “crotchety old man” stripes? Should he be allowed the leeway to give his opinions freely due to his history as a referee? My thing is this: if Ron MacLean is going to give his opinions, why not give him a dedicated segment? Why not call it “MacLean’s Hotstove”? Give him a person or two to bounce off of (like Elliotte Friedman, perhaps) and let him say whatever he wants to say.

However, MacLean sneaking in his opinions during what is supposed to be a panel discussion seems more like what he was doing with the Burrows situation, pushing his own agenda under the umbrella of Hockey Night in Canada. One has to wonder if perhaps they should reign it in, given the controversy over both Ron and Don recently threatening to get Hockey Night taken away from the CBC. I still admire MacLean quite a bit, but I’d prefer he perhaps stay out of the more controversial subjects and stick to what he does best: asking the tough questions and coming up with terrific puns.

Bruins Launching Digital Network

From D.C. Denison of the Boston Globe:

The Boston Bruins are launching an ambitious effort Monday to bundle all of their digital, mobile, and social online assets under one umbrella brand, so the team and its fans will more easily tweet, friend, and pin each other.

The new Bruins Digital Entertainment Network will include more than a dozen properties, including the team’s Facebook and Pinterest pages, Twitter accounts, a mobile app, and a YouTube video channel. The team is also planning to use the network to better understand the digital habits of its younger fans, who are heavy users of the Internet and mobile devices, and to develop new marketing and sponsorship initiatives.

“This is a recognition that the Bruins are really a media company,’’ said Amy Latimer, senior vice president of sales and marketing. “We generate so much original content, on so many channels, that it makes sense to pull it all together.’’

Latimer said the goal of the network, in planning for nearly a year, will be “to get our content to our fans, in whatever way they want to get it.’’

 

Your National TV Schedule for the Week of March 26

Monday, March 26

Tampa Bay vs. Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSp/TSN2
Play by Play: Mike Emrick
Inside the Glass: Pierre McGuire

Los Angeles vs. Vancouver, 10:00 p.m. ET, TSN/NBCSp
Play by Play:
 Gord Miller
Inside the Glass: Ray Ferraro 

Tuesday, March 27

Florida vs. Montreal, 7:00 p.m. ET, TSN
Play by Play: Dave Randorf
Inside the Glass: Mike Johnson

Tampa Bay vs. Boston, 7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSp/TSN2
Play by Play: Dave Strader
Color: Mike Milbury
Inside the Glass: Brian Engblom

Wednesday, March 28

NY Rangers vs. Winnipeg, 7:00 p.m. ET, TSN
Play by Play:
 Gord Miller
Inside the Glass: Ray Ferraro  

Detroit vs. Columbus, 7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSp
Play by Play: Mike Emrick
Color: Eddie Olczyk
Inside the Glass: Pierre McGuire

San Jose vs. Anaheim, 10:00 p.m. ET, NBCSp
Play by Play: Randy Hahn
Color: Drew Remenda

Thursday, March 29

Washington vs. Boston, 7:00 p.m. ET, NHL Network

Philadelphia vs. Toronto, 7:00 p.m. ET, TSN
Play by Play: 
Chris Cuthbert
Inside the Glass: Ray Ferraro

Friday, March 30

Montreal vs. NY Rangers, 7:30 p.m. ET, TSN/NHL Network
Play by Play:
 Chris Cuthbert
Inside the Glass: Darren Pang 

Dallas vs. Vancouver, 10:00 p.m. ET, TSN/NBCSp
Play by Play:
 Gord Miller
Inside the Glass: Ray Ferraro  

Saturday, March 31

Ottawa vs. Philadelphia, 1:00 p.m. ET, CBC/NHL Network
Play by Play: Dean Brown
Color: Greg Millen
Reporter: Bruce Rainnie

Buffalo vs. Toronto, 7:00 p.m. ET, CBC
Play by Play:
 Jim Hughson
Color: Craig Simpson
Inside the Glass: Glenn Healy
Reporter: David Amber 

Montreal vs. Washington, 7:00 p.m. ET, CBC/NHL Network
Play by Play:
 Bob Cole
Color: Gary Galley
Reporter: Cassie Campbell 

Winnipeg vs. Tampa Bay, 7:00 p.m. ET, CBC
Play by Play: Rick Ball
Color: Kevin Weekes

Calgary vs. Vancouver, 10:00 p.m. ET, CBC
Play by Play: Mark Lee
Color: Daryl Reaugh
Reporter: Scott Oake

Sunday, April 1

Philadelphia vs. Pittsburgh, 12:30 p.m. ET, NBC
Play by Play: Mike Emrick
Color: Eddie Olczyk
Inside the Glass: Pierre McGuire

Boston vs. NY Rangers, 7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSp
Play by Play:
 Dave Strader
Inside the Glass: Brian Engblom 

Your Announcers and Open Thread for Day 3 of the NCAA Tournament

West Final
Minnesota vs. North Dakota, 5:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU
Play by Play: Clay Matvick
Color: Dave Starman

Northeast Final
Minnesota-Duluth vs. Boston College, 8:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU
Play by Play:
 Joe Beninati
Color: Billy Jaffe
Reporter: Dan Parkhurst 

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