Your Announcers and Open Thread For Sharks-Blackhawks

San Jose vs. Chicago, 8:00 PM ET, VERSUS (HD)
Play by Play:
Mike Emrick
Color: Eddie Olczyk
Inside the Glass: Pierre McGuire

Caps Set New Ratings Milestone

Via Dan Steinberg:

When this Caps season ends, there will be another blog post about another year of record ratings. In the meantime, we can take the milestones as they come.

So here’s another one. Two seasons ago, the Caps’ local broadcasts on Comcast SportsNet didn’t hit the 2.0 ratings mark until the playoffs. Last season, the Caps hit at least 2.0 14 times in their 76 CSN broadcasts.

Well, Friday’s game against the Hurricanes averaged a 2.18 on CSN in the D.C. market, good for about 51,000 homes., according to Nielsen data. That was the 15th time the Caps have hit at least 2.0 this season, which is obviously something that’s never happened before. And they needed just 59 broadcasts to get there.



Should NBC Pick Tampa-Chicago for Game of the Week After First Match-up Draws Good Numbers For VERSUS?

This story is going to be Part 1 of my campaign this week to get NBC to choose Tampa Bay vs. Chicago as the April 3rd Game of the Week over Rangers-Flyers and Wild-Red Wings. I can’t honestly say I’ll have any further arguments on the case, but I think this could make a pretty strong point. However, it will likely be a better game than either of the other two, and the numbers for the two teams’ first game this season shows that there is a substantial interest in both outside of local markets.

VERSUS’ “bonus” telecast of the Wednesday night game between Chicago and Tampa Bay drew 285,000 viewers. The game did not air on VERSUS in Chicago, though it did in Tampa Bay. Comcast Sportsnet aired the game in the Windy City. This was the most-watched game of the season on VERSUS when either local market had been blacked out. The only prior bonus game even close to Wednesday night was the much-ballyhooed Montreal-Boston grudge match on February 9th, which scored 263,000 viewers.

The Wednesday night broadcast drew nearly as many viewers as the network’s two exclusive games that week, Washington-Tampa Bay (341,000 viewers) and Colorado-Minnesota (299,000). The episode of Hockey Central that aired after Blackhawks-Lightning had higher viewers (125,000) than the episode that aired after the games on Monday (111,000) or Tuesday (120,000). Tuesday night drew the most viewers of the week for NHL Overtime (45,000). The game out-drew 23 exclusive VERSUS games this season.

So, here you are NBC. 285,000 folks who were either Tampa fans, out-of-town fans or were just curious to check out the Blackhawks and Lightning watched. You can pick another potential snoozer between the Rangers and Flyers, another re-peat, somewhat dull pick in Wild-Red Wings, or you can take this. Give Steven Stamkos a national platform for the first time in his career, show a team outside of your typical 7 (Rangers, Flyers, Penguins, Capitals, Bruins, Red Wings, Blackhawks) that really deserves the stage and a chance to get the same 0.8 final rating that the league seems to get whether they have an “established” match-up or not.

Do the correct thing and get this game on the air.

(Source: Son of the Bronx)

Hawks/Caps on NBC Down From Last Year, Even with Last Week

According to Sports Business Daily (reg. required), the NBC broadcast of Blackhawks-Capitals on Sunday afternoon drew an 0.9 overnight rating, down 10% from the similar broadcast last year (WSH/CHI, 3/14/10: 1.0) though drawing the same as the NHL On NBC broadcast last week (PHI/NYR, 3/6/11: 0.9). This marks the third sub-1.0 overnight rating of the season for NBC, and the third in four weeks. The only sports programs that drew lower ratings on network TV this weekend were the Atlantic-10 Championship, the U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix, and a Daytona 500 special.

Everything took a hit this weekend because of college hoops. The NBA drew only a 1.7 on ABC for Magic-Suns, which may be an all time low for the league on that network, and was down 43% from last year. College basketball dominated the weekend, and the time change (couple with the fact the game was airing at 11:30 in Chicago anyway) may have hurt NBC as well.

The NHL on NBC has an average 1.2 overnight rating to this point in the season, down 8% from a 1.3 at this point last season. The NHL On NBC returns with Rangers-Penguins next Sunday at 12:30 PM ET.

NHL On NBC Overnights This Season
January 1 – Washington vs. Pittsburgh:
January 23 – Philadelphia vs. Chicago:
February 6 – Pittsburgh vs. Washington:
February 13 – Boston vs. Detroit:
February 20 – Regional Coverage*:
February 20 – Pittsburgh vs. Chicago*:
March 6 – Philadelphia vs. NY Rangers: 0.9
March 13 – Chicago vs. Washington: 0.9
Season-to-Date Average: 1.2

NHL on NBC Overnights for 2009-10 Season

Jan. 1, Philadelphia vs. Boston*: 2.6
Jan. 17, Chicago vs. Detroit:
Jan. 24, Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia:
Jan. 31, Detroit vs. Pittsburgh:
Feb. 7, Pittsburgh vs. Washington:
Mar. 7, Detroit vs. Chicago:
Mar. 14, Washington vs. Chicago:
Season-to-Date-Average: 1.3


Milbury and McGuire Talk Fighting

Courtesy of NBC, here’s Pierre McGuire and Mike Milbury’s conversation on hits to the head and fighting during the first intermission of NBC’s telecast of Chicago-Washington on the Game of the Week Sunday:

Milbury on Zdeno Chara’s hit on Max Pacioretty: “This collision crystallized all of the players concerns about getting hurt. Too many concussions, too many injuries. The GMs have got to decide about what’s an acceptable level of risk for players in the NHL, whether it’s hitting or any other aspect of the game. And they’re not going to get it done at the meetings down in Florida this week. They’re going to have to: put together a blue ribbon committee to make some recommendations; take their time over the summer; and revisit the rules they made in 2004 that changed the game. (There is) so much speed, 40 percent more hitting (today) than in 2004. Concussions are off the charts. “They’ve got to look at the equipment, the playing surface, and they definitely have to take a look at how the players get educated to this stuff because ultimately they’re responsible. One thing they can go to the meetings and come away with immediately is make this one simple change: take away the partitions…get the things out of there so the players don’t run into them. They do that all the time. The Pacioretty hit, which is deemed not suspendible, never would have happened if those things aren’t there.”

McGuire: “I agree with you in terms of the partitions. Last winter during the Olympic Games in Vancouver I worked about 45 games (most from the inside-the-glass position). There was never any glass between the two benches. There was no problem. I worked a game last year in the National Hockey League between the Florida Panthers and the Montreal Canadiens. There was never a problem with no glass. That’s the first big step. “But I also think there’s another step they have to go to. They really have to get rid of this seamless glass…Get rid of it.”

Milbury: “All around. And one step more. There going to have to look at the role of fighting and whether or not it has to be changed in any way shape or form. There’s too much of this going on. We’ve got to accept that we’ve got to make some changes in terms of player safety.

McGuire: “The one positive thing about this is that everybody’s paying attention to it and I think we’re going to have some good ideas to help fix it.”

Another Paean To the Washington Hockey Boom

During Friday night’s Washington Capitals Southeast Division showdown against the Carolina Hurricanes, the young, raucous crowd was polled twice for trivia questions. The first question went as follows:

  • Which of the following players has a hat trick against the Hurricanes
  1. Robert Lang
  2. Calle Johansson
  3. Alex Ovechkin

90% of the crowd voted for Alexander the Great, and they were incorrect, as the right answer was Robert Lang. The next question and response was slightly more troubling:

  • Which of the following players scored his first NHL goal vs. Carolina
  1. Jeff Schultz
  2. Eric Fehr
  3. Jason Arnott

37% (the slight majority) of the fans voted Arnott. Now, Jason Arnott played his first NHL game and scored his first NHL goal in 1993, when the Carolina Hurricanes were still in Hartford.

What’s the point I’m trying to make here? I’m not really sure of it, but I think it’s that Capitals fans of the older days (B.8.) and hardcore NHL fans should learn to be okay with the fact that the Capitals bandwagon exists. I’ve seen many criticisms throughout social media and the blogosphere mocking the fanbase (even from their own fellow fans) for hopping on just because of Ovechkin and the team’s (regular season) winning ways. However, the Capitals are building traditions in a way that cultivates that fervor in the right way: creating obsessed, fairly knowledgeable hockey fans, just like anyone who reads this blog.

Here’s the thing: this team is a hit with the younger set of the Washington/Maryland area in a big way, and it shows in the atmosphere: it is very much that of an ACC or Big East college basketball game, a lot of crowd encouragement, a segment where Tom Green phones in his “UNLEASH THE FURY” line from Road Trip, characters like “The Horn Guy”, a miniature mascot and tons of other stuff to keep their attention. Knock it all you want, but it works: other than as a lacrosse/soccer player, I’d never known my cousin for a sports guy. He knew more about the Caps than I did, and I was headed for an NHL press box. Most of the fans I talked to that night were that way: maybe not 100% on the NHL history quiz, but they know the team backwards and forwards.

Fact is, this is all a good thing for the NHL. Do you think baseball fans really care that every Yankee fan can’t go toe-to-toe on Ruth and DiMaggio and Mantle? Maybe a few do, but they’re wasting their time, because the Yankees and their fanbase are great for baseball, in some cases providing the revenue to (supposedly) keep some teams competing. I’m not saying the Capitals are like the Yankees, but the fanbase reminded me of a little bit of that.

This might be painful to hear for the elder statesmen Caps fan, but honestly, what is their really worth remembering all that much from the pre-Ovie days? A failed Stanley Cup trip in 1998, Rod Langway, Petr Bondra, the abortion of Jagr and … a whole lot of blah. Ted Leonsis brought superstars, and ones with personality to boot to this city, and the people came in droves (Sunday was the team’s 97th consecutive sellout) something that hadn’t worked before in Washington. They have an entire area that won’t follow the teams of their parents, who may have migrated from other places or just didn’t care about the Caps. They’re building their own traditions, and if more teams with success would find a way to sell their fans on the current team, more hockey teams might be thriving the way Washington is. Call it a call to hockey teams to live for the now.