VERSUS Announcers for Tonight’s Red Wings-Blues Game Plus Open Game Watching Thread

I’d like to ask all PTM readers to come follow the game with me in the comments section of this thread tonight, if you’d like.  Bring your sense of humor, please.

Tonight, 7:00 PM
St. Louis vs. Detroit
Play by Play:
Dave Strader
Color: Darren Eliot
Reporter: Chris Simpson 


Will NBC Take a Shot on Sharks/Devils?

The NHL On NBC will present to you the Red Wings-Penguins game this Sunday at 12:30 PM, but there is more pressing news for the network early in the week.  By tomorrow, they must inform six teams involved in three games whether or not they will be flexed on to the Peacock’s schedule.  Your choices are

  • Colorado vs. Detroit
  • NY Rangers vs. Philadelphia
  • San Jose vs. New Jersey

Now, the most obvious choice out of the three is Rangers-Philly, and why not?  Both teams are very talented and likely playoff bound.  Plus, it’s a big rivalry game between to huge markets filled with passionate fans.

Colorado and Detroit would be an awesome pick if this were 2001 or even 2004, but times have changed.  The Avs are fluctuating in playoff bubble limbo and the Red Wings are so clearly in cruise control at this point that their fanbase probably can’t muster up much excitement for a Sunday afternoon battle with the Avalanche.

The one choice that interests me, and maybe it’s only because I am a Devil fan, is the Sharks-Devils game.  The fact that NBC even listed it as a possibility is beyond crazy.  But the fact remains, even with the rivalries involved, San Jose-Jersey is the best game of the three, as it features the cruisin’ first-place in the West Sharks vs. the red hot, now exciting to watch Devils.  A subplot with Claude Lemieux returning to North Jersey for the first time in years is cool to follow too.

Now, you don’t have to be Nielsen himself to know that Sharks-Devils would likely do terribly in the ratings.  It’s a team that can’t draw a 1.0 locally versus a team that can, but almost certainly won’t for a game at 9:30 AM local time.

Still, if NBC’s flex scheduling policy is truly to get the best games on the air, they’ll take a shot on this one.  We’ll know by tomorrow.  What would you all do?

NBC to Decide on NHL Within Next Few Weeks

From Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun:

 But the success (or failure) of hockey on NBC over the next few weeks could lead to a breakthrough for the National Hockey League, which could use a boost in revenue.

The U.S. network is in the final year of its two-year deal with the NHL and actually is riding some momentum.

The Winter Classic between Detroit and Chicago on New Year’s Day drew an audience of 4.4. million Americans, the most-viewed NHL regular-season game in 34 years.

If the league can build on that, could it possibly command a deal with any of the big four networks that brings in significant revenue?

The NHL’s senior vice-president for broadcasting, John Shannon, told Sun Media this week that talks won’t heat up on renewing the deal until after the Super Bowl hangover subsides. That also will give both NHL and NBC executives a chance to see how the next few weeks draw, beginning with Saturday’s Stanley Cup final rematch between Pittsburgh and Detroit.

NBC certainly has room in its schedule in the dead zone on the calendar for sports programming. While CBS loads up on college basketball, ABC has the NBA and Fox gets fat on NASCAR, NBC has little right now.

Sources say the NHL currently makes roughly $10 million US per season in its revenue-sharing arrangement with the network. That’s a 10th of the take from Canadian networks, a gap the league would like to see narrow.

Very interesting.  Basically, this means two things:

  1. Our post later today that implores NBC to pick Sharks-Devils as the February 15th flex game will likely fall on deaf ears.
  2. Hockey fans need to get out the view this Sunday and for the next few Sundays.

Look, as we’ve said a number of times, the NHL isn’t making more than $10-20 million a year on a broadcast deal.  It simply isn’t happening, unless it factors in some type of cable/broadcast package, a la ABC/ESPN.  But if hockey fans will turn their TV’s to NBC the next few weekends, there’s a chance hockey might be able to stave off deportation to cable for a few more years.

VERSUS’ Possible Future Plans: No NHL2Night, Possible Third Weekly Game?


Photo Courtesy SBJ

Photo Courtesy SBJ

Tripp Mickle of Sports Business Journal has a terrific report this week on Gary Bettman’s burgeoning relationship with new VERSUS President Jamie Davis.  The story includes this fantastic nugget of information:

Bettman extended a special invitation to Davis and his wife to join NHL family and friends for a cooking class at L’Académie Culinaire on Jan. 24. Davis said the cooking class, which was hosted by Bettman’s wife, was the weekend’s most memorable event for him.

That just shows you that, during All-Star weekend, a cooking class can be the most entertaining experience.  Anyway, there are some more pressing details in the story, including Davis’ plans for VERSUS hockey coverage in the future:

For all his optimism, Davis still faces challenges at Versus. The NHL remains its most high-profile sports property, and some league officials would like to see talent improve on the network, while others favor more shoulder programming like the league had on ESPN prior to 2005 with “NHL Tonight.” There’s also the question of whether Davis would be willing to give up Versus’ cable exclusivity in order to share the NHL with ESPN.

Davis said he doesn’t plan to add any shoulder programming and isn’t open to giving up cable exclusivity to ESPN, but he may seek a third, weekly “bonus” game in the future.

“Hockey’s on a roll,” Davis said. “The fans are finding hockey on our network and would like more. If we can make it work and give them more, we’d love to do that.”

“If we can make it work”?  What else is on VERSUS?!?!?  I think I speak for everyone when I say, Wednesday-Friday features literally nothing to any interest of anyone, save for the occasional WEC/Boxing event.  Saturdays and Sundays feature college sports (which, as Mickle reports, VERSUS wants more of, and that is a great sign) and hockey owns Mondays and Tuesdays, but at least until VERSUS can acquire another major sporting property, they need to fill the gaps with more pucks.

We do agree with NHL executives that studio talent needs to improve, and they need to get an NHL 2Night-style show to be taken seriously.  However, if this is what Mr. Davis seems to think is right, we’re willing to go along with him.  But if Gary’s going to be all buddy-buddy with this new dude, at least negotiate a nightly highlights show in the next contract, which as Mickle reports, is open for renegotiating very, very soon.

Oh Jack Edwards, How We Missed You:

There.  Are.  No.  Words. 

On a serious note, someone needs to tell Edwards that there’s a fine line between being professional and having some fun with the game (see Mike Emrick, Mike Lange, Sam Rosen, Howie Rose or any announcer worth half his salt) and just being a pathetic homer who sounds like he wants to gang up on this poor kid with Thornton in an alley.

I get why some people love Edwards, but there are plenty of good reasons to hate, and most of them are on display right here.

Seriously, prison stripes?  Though it does help our joke that the Habs jereseys made them look like gay prisoners.

Anyway, non-Hardenbergh folks, should something be done about this?  Like a reprimand from NESN, or something?  I’m just not sure what to make of this all.

Puck the Media Takes You Inside the NHL’s “Super Suite”

If you watched any of NBC’s Super Bowl pre-game coverage, you may have noticed that they used an extremely annoying segment called “Super Suite”, in which NBC’s formerly portly weatherman Al Roker interview a seemingly random collection of celebrities, some of whome were not as up on their football acumen.  

What you may not know is that NBC secretly experimented with this concept in Detroit during last year’s Stanley Cup Finals.  We at Puck the Media have obtained the transcripts from that ordeal, and would like to share it with you, the reader.  Enjoy.

Read more of this post

So, Did We Miss Anything?

We’re not gonna’ lie, we completely zoned out on the 2nd half of the Super Bowl.  After Mr. Springsteen left the stage, we really had no interest.

But we definitely didn’t notice any hockey promos during the portion of the game we watched.  So I ask the readers, did anything – pregame, post-game, in-game – happen to mention at very least the Championship rematch between some of the league’s biggest stars that happens to be airing on the same network next week?

By the way, did anyone else find it hilarious that The Boss really nailed home the fact that he could care less about football?  Other than that and the cut-down songs, it was an awesome show.  But back to hockey, please leave any mentions in the comment sections, we’ll repost it later.