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.

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

  1. steven says:

    I think versus’ lack of expereinece doesn’t make them a good fit for the NHL. The league was better off with ESPN. No mater what Bettman says.

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