Guest Chair: Real Winners From the Olympics

Here’s a guesting opinion from Blake Rosekrans on VERSUS’ coverage this week.  Would you like to sit in the guest chair?  E-mail Steve at

Growing up in Michigan I admit to having a skewed perception of hockey nationwide. What a great place for a hockey fan to live: the Red Wings, the Michigan/Michigan State rivalry, and the US Development program along with a slew of outstanding amateur hockey.

Stepping outside of one of the “hockey hotbeds” of the country offers a gloomier perspective on the game, even if you stay above the Mason-Dixon Line. It shocks me that people don’t watch and it’s hard to buy the reasoning why.

Hockey is a simple game and it’s enhanced beautifully by HDTV. Those of us that know and love the game, can’t peel our eyes off the TV for a minute – even for a quick press of the channel return button, in the face of a great football or basketball game. In the post-lockout era hockey fans have been given new hope with offensively focused games and very marketable young stars (damn you, Crosby). However, no hope has been greater than the TV ratings of Sunday’s gold medal game. Maybe, just maybe, the average fan WILL catch on to our sport.

The game capped off a great 2010 Vancouver Olympics – surely some of the best hockey I have ever seen: USA’s upset of Canada, Slovakia’s farewell tour run through Sweden, Canada’s OT win against the Swiss and Finland’s run to the Bronze. All of these events culminated in 1-in-3 American TV’s tuned to the gold medal game, where ultimately Canada got its revenge. With hockey on the world’s biggest sporting stage there are several winners coming out of Vancouver:

North America

Yep, we’ve got the best professional league in the world and two hockey powers: Canada and the United States.  You shouldn’t need more proof than Canada and USA dismantling Russia and Finland, respectively.


On a world stage, the league basically received two weeks of free advertising of the best product they can offer. The youngest and most marketable stars shined (again, damn you, Crosby). Most importantly, as Bettman, the owners and the player’s association debate going to Sochi for the 2014 games, there were no major injuries that will affect clubs as they compete for playoff position.

It’s a great jump off point for fans as the NHL gears up for a playoff run. Fans who pick up the NHL from the Olympics, will track down players they followed in Vancouver, while more seasoned fans can’t wait to see who will drop the gloves with Olli Jokinen first.


Let’s not forget: one of the best games this year was a Sunday Game of the Week featuring the Blackhawks and Red Wings a few months back, and there’s a rematch this coming Sunday! So, NBC should have the best sports TV story of the day for the third consecutive Sunday and with Washington/Chicago and Buffalo/Carolina on deck, there’s no reason to believe that will slow down.


If there’s one thing Versus does well it is TV spots (see: herehere and here ). They never fail to give me chills and I’m sure you took note during the Olympic Games. What a great move by the channel to get hockey in front of the country every night this week to build on the Olympic momentum. Every morning for the next week I’ll be patiently waiting (and hoping) to hear that the Versus/NBC ratings blow expectations out of the water.

Me, you and hockey fans in the United States

Thanks to Versus, NBC, NHL Network and NHL Center Ice (for under $80 through the end of the season – a steal from Comcast, I might add) I’ll be sitting on my couch, clutching my remote with the option to watch every game, until Lord Stanley’s Cup is hoisted in late June.

I guess the only losers here are those with DirecTV, who are unable to see the games on Versus due to the ongoing carriage dispute. Ah! Just thinking about the NHL Playoffs without Versus – I can feel my blood pressure going up as we speak.

Happy watching, hockey fans. Hopefully Steve will let me write for the site again; until then follow me on Twitter @brosekrans .


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