To End the Day, A Clarification

We spoke to the friendly NHL Manager of Communications Schuyler Baehman earlier today.  We’ve exchanged e-mails before and he’s just as affable on the phone as he is in typed word.  But he did want to tell us this one nugget of info: The dates for the Stanley Cup Final, while correct, CAN change if the Conference Finals end particularly early.

Just wanted to clarify that, as I know some of you were worried at a potential 12 day break of hockey.  See you all tomorrow, and thanks for reading.

How Will A Fighting For Their Lives Minnesota Team Do on NBC (Ratings-wise, Not Real-Hockey Wise)

It might be surprising to many people who know Minnesota and it’s hockey fans that the Wild have only appeared on national TV four times in their history prior to Sunday’s telecast of The NHL on NBC Game of the Week.  Three of the four were playoff games in which the network (at the time ABC) either was relying on a stronger market to carry the ratings (Two games of the Wild’s 2003 playoff series vs. Colorado) or they had no choice but to air that or a game featuring a Canadian club (Game 1 of the 2003 Western Finals vs. Anaheim).

Well, it may actually surprise some of you to find out that, until last year’s big-market filled last couple of rounds, the Wild/Ducks Game 1 on ABC was one of the most-watched hockey games of the decade.  Which brings us to Sunday afternoon on NBC.  The Wild are on the road against the Detroit Red Wings, so you can add the Team of 18,000 to whoever else watches Wild games.  It’s going to be a desperate, important game.  What do you all think the game will draw in the Twin Cities and nationally?

Emrick Highlights Hockey’s Little Representation in Sports Emmy Nominations

As you all know, we love Doc Emrick.  Great guy, great announcer.  Good news today is that for the 2nd straight year, Doc’s been nominated for a Sports Emmy for his work on The NHL On NBC Game of the Week.  To which we say well done, sir.  If anyone at all deserves recognition for that train wreck of a production, it’s you.  Here’s Doc’s competition:

Outstanding Sports Personality ‑ PLAY‑BY‑PLAY

Al Michaels, NBC

Dan Hicks, NBC

Jim Nantz, CBS

Joe Buck, FOX

Mike Emrick, NBC 

It’s a shame that Doc’s up against three real titanic names in sports broadcasting.  He deserves as good a chance as the rest of them.  He’s like when you see a cable show get nominated for Best Drama at the regular Emmys.  

Anyway, hockey’s only other recognition is in the promotional department, and it comes as little surprise.  The baseball-themed promo for 2009’s Winter Classic was entertaining and compelling in it’s 30-second run-time, so well played by the Academy to nominate it.  Here’s that category:

2008 NFL Training Camp – In Rhythm, NFL Network / NFL.com/NFL Network

2009 Winter Classic, NBC

ESPN Monday Night Football ‑ Is it Monday Yet? – Customers, Cubicles, Class,ESPN/MJZ
NASCAR on FOX 2008 – Engine City, FOX/Buf

NBC Sunday Night Football ‑ Kick‑off Weekend – Manning Brothers, NBC 

So there you go.  The Sports Emmys will be handed out April 27th.

Your Mid-Day YouTube Compulsory: Too Many Devil Fans Referencing This Last Night

NBC Sports Stanley Cup Playoff Broadcast Schedule, Who’s Ready For a Surprise?

Thanks to reader Dave Sullivan for pointing to this on NBC Sports’ Website.  NBC has posted it’s entire playoff schedule for this year on it’s website, and if you’ll direct your attention (post-jump) to the Stanley Cup Finals, there is some interesting news, we’ll comment after you read it.  

Saturday, April 18
Conference quarterfinals, Game 2, 1 p.m. ET

Sunday, April 19
Conference quarterfinals, Game 2 or 3, 3 p.m. ET

Saturday, April 25
Conference quarterfinals, Game 5, 3 p.m. ET

Sunday, April 26
Conference quarterfinals, Game 5 or 6, 2 p.m. ET

Saturday, May 2
Conference semifinals, Game 1 or 2, 1 p.m. ET

Sunday, May 3
Conference semifinals, Game 2, 2 p.m. ET

Saturday, May 16
Conference finals, Game 1, 1:30 p.m. ET

Sunday, May 17
Conference finals, Game 1 or 2, 3 p.m. ET

Saturday, May 23
Conference finals, Game 4 or 5, 3 p.m. ET

Sunday, May 24
Conference finals, Game 4 or 5, 3 p.m. ET

Friday, June 5
Stanley Cup finals, Game 1, 8 p.m. ET

Saturday, June 6
Stanley Cup finals, Game 2, 8 p.m. ET

Friday, June 12
Stanley Cup finals, Game 5, 8 p.m. ET

Sunday, June 14
Stanley Cup finals, Game 6, 5 p.m. ET

Tuesday, June 16
Stanley Cup finals, Game 7, 8 p.m. ET

So there it is.  NBC will not only air Games 1 & 2 on back-to-back days (the lowly rated Friday & Saturday), but they will take one of it’s games outside of primetime (Game 6, airing at 5PM ET).  Now, this is fairly radical and it’s not without problems.  First of all, Games 6 & 7 will air on the same nights as a potential Game 5 & 6 of the NBA Finals on ABC.  Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals’ 5PM ET airtime cancels out it’s challenge with Game 5 of the NBA Championship series, which airs at 8PM ET.  But there is that Game 7 on the Tuesday night at close to the same time as an NBA Game 6.  How hard will Gary Bettman get hammered when this comes to fruition?

Another problem.  You saw that the Conference Finals will at least be at Game 4 or 5 by May 24th.  That means there will be a minimum of six days between a Game 7 of a Conference Final and Game 1 of the Stanley Cup.  There could be as many as TWELVE days!  And NBC isn’t rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic for what could be one of the biggest weeks in the network’s history.

Gary Bettman is going to get a lot of negative press for this.  But there are positives, in that the NHL keeps most of it’s championship series on national TV.  Also, with it’s network TV situation in flux, why not try something different?  Most of all, and likely much to the delight of hockey fanatics, no more going with two off-days between games.  It has happened at least once in every Stanley Cup Final since 1996, and has been scheduled every year since 1994.

What’s your reaction to this?