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2011 Final A Success On Many Fronts

NEW YORK (June 20, 2011) – After a regular season that saw

record-breaking business success, highlighted by record revenue for the

fifth consecutive year, the most significant U.S. media rights deal in

League history and the NHL® named as “League of the Year” by Sports

Business Journal, the NHL built on that momentum during a Stanley Cup®

Final that attracted the largest audience across all platforms in the

history of the sport. The landmark series, in which Boston defeated

Vancouver in seven games, was highlighted by the most-watched NHL game in

the U.S. in 38 years; the highest audience for any NHL game in Canadian

television history; record TV ratings in Boston; and the hottest of all hot

markets in Beantown fueling a Shop.NHL.com one-day sales record.

 

“There has never been a better time to be associated with the NHL,” said

NHL COO John Collins. “On the ice, we saw a Stanley Cup Playoffs filled

with tremendous performances and improbable comebacks capped off with a

dramatic Game 7 in the Final. What’s most gratifying is how our fans

responded in such a big way, driving new milestones of engagement across

all platforms. What a great way to end another record year of growth.

 

“Off the ice, the corporate community has become increasingly aware of

how the NHL can drive their business. Our partners have played a big part

in our success and continued growth the past five years and we firmly

believe the best is yet to come.”

 

Below are business highlights from the 2011 Stanley Cup® Playoffs:

 

MEASURABLE BUZZ

· According to news sources, more than one million fans attended the

Bruins victory parade – Boston’s largest crowd ever for a

championship celebration, surpassing the turnout for events in recent

years honoring the Red Sox, Patriots and Celtics.

· According to Fansnap.com, tickets for the Stanley Cup Final were

driving a higher price on the secondary market than for the NBA

Finals by approximately $600 per ticket.

 

MERCHANDISE SALES UP OVER LAST YEAR’S RECORD

 

Arena

· In-arena “per caps,” the average amount spent per fan per game, were

up 11 percent over last year for the entire Stanley Cup Playoffs.

· In-arena “per caps” were up four percent for the Final.

· Game 4 resulted in the highest-ever sales at the TD Garden for a

sporting event since it opened in 1995.

· In-arena jersey sales were up 87 percent during the Conference Finals

and Stanley Cup Final

 

Retail

· North American Stanley Cup Playoff sales are on pace with last year’s

record.

· Stanley Cup Championship T-shirts sales are up eight percent with

Reebok t-shirt sales up 51 percent and Boston based Old Time Sports

up 35 percent.

· Top selling products include jerseys, official locker room products,

commemorative pucks, car flags and accessories, name and number tees

and collectibles

 

Shop.NHL.com

· Sales on Shop.NHL.com from the day after Game 7 set a new single-day

mark.

· The four-day post-Final total was up 30 percent over the same period

last year.

 

Quotes about the NHL’s retail performance:

 

“After almost 40 years of waiting for another Stanley Cup, Bruins’ fans

have responded with an energy that we haven’t seen since the Red Sox in

2004.”

— Jed Berger, VP Marketing, Modell’s Sporting Goods

 

“Customer demand in our Bob’s Stores with Bruins Stanley Cup Champions

product has been beyond even our lofty expectations.”

— Lynn LaRocca, AVP, Marketing Director, Bob’s Stores

 

“This year Stanley Cup Championship merchandise sales are up 30 percent

and last year was our best year ever.”

— Bob Magnuson, President, Old Time Sports

 

“We are thrilled with the strong Stanley Cup North American sales

increases, to outpace some of the 2010 records speaks to the momentum

for NHL in the marketplace.”

— Simon Drouin, Reebok NHL Director of Sales)

 

 

STANLEY CUP FINAL SETS VIEWERSHIP MILESTONES

The 2011 Stanley Cup set numerous viewership milestones and records,

including the highest average North American viewership for any Stanley Cup

Final in history – 11.5 million viewers (records go back to 1994). Game 7

of the series led the way, averaging a record 18.3 million viewers in the

U.S. and Canada, also a North American viewership record for any NHL game

on record.

 

Game 7 drew 8.54 million viewers on NBC in the U.S., the best for any NHL

game in 38 years, up three percent over last year’s deciding Game 6 and

seven percent over Game 7 in 2009. In Canada, the 8.76 million viewers on

CBC for Game 7 is an all-time best for any NHL game on the network and the

second most-watched sports program ever on CBC, behind only the 2002

Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Final between USA and Canada (8.96 million). The

8.76 million viewers is a 148-percent increase over the last Stanley Cup

Final Game 7 in 2009 (Pittsburgh-Detroit, 3.528 million viewers). On

French-language RDS, the game attracted 1.043 million viewers, 50-percent

higher than the last Game 7 to feature a Canadian team (2006:

Edmonton-Carolina, 695,000 viewers).

 

CBC averaged 6.153 million viewers over the seven-games series, the best

ever for CBC, a 98-percent increase over last year’s Final (3.10 million

viewers) and an 186 percent increase over the last seven-game Final in 2009

(2.154 million viewers).

 

The Stanley Cup Final seven game series (Games 1, 2, 5, 6, 7 on NBC and

Games 3, 4 on VERSUS) averaged 4.6 million viewers and a household rating

of 2.7/5, surpassing the 2004 series (3.3 million, 2.2/4 on ABC/ESPN) as

the most-watched combined network/cable Stanley Cup involving a Canadian

team ever and up 39 percent from that series. The combined viewership was

up 160 percent over the last Final with a Canadian team (Ottawa-Anaheim,

1.76 million viewers).

 

The Bruins’ first title since 1972 energized Beantown with the Boston

market averaging a 28.1/44 rating for the seven games (five on NBC and two

on VERSUS), 12 percent higher than the Boston Celtics’ seven-game average

in Boston on ABC for last year’s NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers

(25.0/40). The 43.4/64 for Game 7 was the best-ever rating for an NHL game

in Boston.

 

OTHER RATING & VIEWERSHIP MILESTONES

 

· Game 1 on NBC delivered a 2.7 national rating, up 17 percent over

last year (2.3) despite that series featuring the No. 3 and 4 U.S.

television markets (Chicago-Philadelphia).

· The 4.56 million viewers on NBC were the most for a Stanley Cup Final

Game 1 since 1999 (Buffalo-Dallas, 5.07 million viewers on FOX).

· The two-game Stanley Cup Final metered market average on VERSUS of

1.95 was up 231percent over the last time the Final featured a

Canadian team (2007, Ottawa-Anaheim, 0.59 on VERSUS).

· Game 4 on VERSUS produced a 23.64 HH rating in Boston, finishing No.

1 in the time period in the market and beating the Yankees-Red Sox

game on NESN by 141 percent (9.8 local rating).

· The 2.76 million viewers on VERSUS for Game 3 made it the most

watched Stanley Cup Final game featuring a Canadian club on U.S.

cable since 1994 (Vancouver-NY Rangers Game 7).

· The 4.6 million viewers for Game 1 on NBC was 169-percent higher than

the first network broadcast of the 2007 series (1.6 million viewers

for Game 3), the last time the Final featured a Canadian participant.

· Overall, this was the second most-watched postseason (second only to

last year) on U.S. cable in nine years.

· NBC’s five-game average audience of 5.31 million and 3.1/6 is the

best for a network Stanley Cup Final featuring a Canadian team in 38

years (6.8/15 and 7.4 million for three games in 1973 on NBC).

 

NHL.COM

· Average daily unique visitors during the Stanley Cup Final gained 26

percent over last season.

· Total visits were up by 28 percent.

· Video starts increased by 26 percent

· Mobile page views gained 39 percent

· For the entire Stanley Cup Playoffs, traffic increased by 18 percent

in the U.S. and 32 percent in Canada.

· All six Canadian NHL markets showed UV growth led by Vancouver, up 91

percent over last year.

· In the U.S., among the NHL markets showing substantial growth were

Tampa-St. Pete (+149 percent), Nashville (+84 percent); Boston (+31

percent) and New York (+25 percent).

 

GAINS ON SOCIAL MEDIA

During the Stanley Cup Final, the NHL has added 48,000 Facebook LIKES and

10,000 Twitter followers. When calculated as a weekly average, this

represents a 71% increase on Facebook over the regular season (weekly

acquisition average) and a 134% increase on Twitter over the regular season

(weekly acquisition average), despite fewer teams and games.

 

NHL NETWORK

The NHL Network had the series covered from all angles with its team of

experts and guest analysts. NHL On The Fly at the Stanley Cup Final:

Pre-Game presented by Cisco was on the air each game day at 6 p.m. and

followed up each game with a post-game show immediately following the

conclusion of every game to bring viewers instant analysis, coverage of

post-game news conferences and all the news and notes. Both pre- and

post-game shows originated live from fan plaza and concourse areas in

Vancouver and Boston.

 

NHL Network’s daily signature show, NHL Live™ also broadcast Monday through

Friday from 4 – 6 p.m. during the 2011 Stanley Cup Final with the latest

series information and reports from Vancouver and Boston.

 

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING ABOUT THE STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS AND THE NHL

“You have to look at the NHL as the most stable of all the major sports

leagues right now.”

— David Carter of Sports Business Group in Forbes.com

 

“Memorable, unpredictable, crazy, finger-biting, tire-deflating,

comeback-full spring of some of the best hockey we’ve ever seen.” – Toronto

Sun

 

“March Madness on ice.” – Denver Post

 

“Year after year, especially over the past decade, the Stanley Cup playoffs

teach us one paramount lesson: Expect the unexpected.” — Pierre LeBrun,

ESPN.com

 

“April/May Madness has suddenly become one of the NHL’s biggest marketing

tools. The modern postseason has almost a fundamentalist revival feel to

it, the rows of arena seats converted into pews where color-coordinated

worshipers lift hands aloft with every fortunate bounce of the puck.” –

Adrian Dater, SI.com

 

LANDMARK BUSINESS YEAR FOR NHL

In a season that saw outstanding on-ice performances with a dramatic

playoff chase that went down to the last minute of the last game of the

season and capped by a seven-game Stanley Cup Final, the NHL experienced

unprecedented success off the ice achieving a myriad of business records

and milestones. Led by dramatic increases in sponsorship and merchandise

sales, landmark corporate investment in its big events and impressive

digital growth, the NHL is on pace for its fifth consecutive year of record

revenue approaching nearly $3 billion in total revenue. League generated

revenue has increased by 15 percent for this year and has increased by 150

percent over the past five years. Sponsorship sales set an all-time record

with gross sales increasing by 33 percent over last year as the League

added to its blue chip roster of corporate partners attracted by the

most-coveted fan demographic in all of sports. The NHL received rave

reviews for partnering with HBO on 24/7 and recently announced a new

10-year television agreement with the NBC Sports Group. For its business

achievements, Sports Business Journal named the NHL as its “League of the

Year.”

TSN Promotes Draft Coverage, Which Will Be Simulcast on VERSUS Again

Toronto, ON (June 17, 2011) – With a bevy of future NHL stars in the stands led by No. 1-ranked Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Red Deer Rebels, TSN is on the clock with each team as they make their First Round selections at the 2011 NHL ENTRY DRAFT, live and in prime-time on Canada’s Sports Leader. Coverage begins on Friday, June 24 at 7 p.m. ET on TSN and continues through to the end of the First Round.

 

TSN’s live coverage of the 2011 NHL ENTRY DRAFT is also being simulcast on VERSUS in the U.S.

 

James Duthie hosts TSN’s coverage directly from the DRAFT stage at Xcel Energy Center in Minnesota, interviewing GMs and players following their selections. Duthie is joined by TSN’s Draft Panel with Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie, analyst Pierre McGuire and commentator Gord Miller teeing up each selection and delivering instant analysis.

 

Hockey Insider Darren Dreger takes fans on to the DRAFT floor, providing the latest news on picks, trades and trade speculation, while reporter Ryan Rishaug is in the stands, conducting interviews with players and family members.

 

Fans can get in on all the action at the DRAFT by following TSN’s hockey experts on Twitter and joining the conversation on the social media website by using the Twitter hashtag #TSN. TSN’s Fan Page on Facebook will also be a key place for fans to interact and post comments during the DRAFT. The best tweets and comments from fans and from around the NHL will be featured during TSN’s live broadcast next Friday. (See below for a list of TSN personalities on Twitter.)

 

Fans can also get in on all the action and excitement behind-the-scenes at the DRAFT by following TSN’s hockey experts on Twitter (hashtag #TSN) and be a part of the conversation by visiting TSN’s Fan Page on Facebook. (See below for a list of TSN personalities on Twitter.)

 

Leading up to next Friday, TSN ranks the consensus Top 30 candidates in the BOB MCKENZIE’S NHL DRAFT RANKING SPECIAL on Monday, June 20 at 7:30 p.m. ET; plays GM in the NHL MOCK DRAFT on Tuesday, June 21 at 7:30 p.m. ET; and gets fans primed for the First Round during the NHL COUNTDOWN TO THE DRAFT on Thursday, June 23 at 7 p.m. ET. All shows are also available on-demand at TSN.ca.

 

TSN also sets the table for the 2011 NHL ENTRY DRAFT with comprehensive coverage across all of the network’s properties and platforms next week, including SPORTSCENTRE, OFF THE RECORD WITH MICHAEL LANDSBERG, THAT’S HOCKEY and THAT’S HOCKEY 2NITE, plus online at TSN.ca and on the AM dial on TSN RADIO 1050.

 

Below is an overview of TSN’s all-encompassing coverage of the 2011 NHL ENTRY DRAFT:

BOB MCKENZIE’S NHL DRAFT RANKING SPECIAL

Monday, June 20 at 7:30 p.m. ET on TSN

The 30-minute original TSN production has Hockey Insider and draft expert Bob McKenzie ranking the consensus Top 30 candidates, representing the DRAFT’s most likely First Round choices. McKenzie is joined in the TSN studio by NHL ON TSN host James Duthie. Over on TSN.ca, the website features McKenzie’s complete 60-player prospect list, including player bios and scouting reports from former NHL scout and McKeen’s Draft Guide director of scouting, Grant McCagg.

 

NHL MOCK DRAFT

Tuesday, June 21 at 7:30 p.m. ET on TSN

Host James Duthie is in studio for the 30-minute show as TSN’s Pierre McGuire and former NHL general manager Craig Button predict who they think would be the best fit for each NHL team picking in the First Round of the 2011 NHL ENTRY DRAFT. The results of McGuire and Button’s mock draft will also be featured online at TSN.ca.

 

NHL COUNTDOWN TO THE DRAFT

Thursday, June 23 at 7 p.m. ET on TSN

Hosted by James Duthie, the 60-minute special live from Xcel Energy Center in Minnesota sets the stage for next Friday’s draft with insight from TSN’s hockey experts, including Hockey Insiders Bob McKenzie and Darren Dreger, analyst Pierre McGuire, commentator Gord Miller and draft analyst Craig Button.

 

The show includes features on George Pelawa, the Minnesota high school hockey standout who died tragically in a car accident 25 years ago after being drafted 16th-overall by the Calgary Flames in the 1986 NHL Entry Draft, and on Niagara IceDogs forward Ryan Strome, whose spectacular goal this season against the Plymouth Whalers went viral on YouTube. Draft-eligible Strome joins Duthie for an interview during the COUNTDOWN special, along with top-rated prospect Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Red Deer Rebels and Edmonton Oilers’ GM Steve Tambellini, who is picking first overall at the draft for the second year in a row.

 

SPORTSCENTRE

Reporters Brent Wallace and Katherine Dolan are at the 2011 NHL ENTRY DRAFT filing daily reports from Minnesota beginning Wednesday, June 22. Along with all the latest news and trade speculation from the DRAFT and around the NHL, SPORTSCENTRE features insight and analysis from TSN’s hockey experts, plus a special “Cabbie Presents” segment from SPORTSCENTRE correspondent Cabbie Richards in Minnesota.

 

OFF THE RECORD WITH MICHAEL LANDSBERG

Weekdays at 5 p.m. ET on TSN (6 p.m. ET on TSN2)

Host Michael Landsberg travels to Minnesota for two episodes on Thursday, June 23 and Friday, June 24 as he debates all the hot-button issues surrounding this year’s DRAFT and gives fans a sense of what’s going on behind the scenes at the event.

 

THAT’S HOCKEY

Thursday, June 23 and Friday, June 24 at 5:30 p.m. ET on TSN

Gino Reda hosts THAT’S HOCKEY from Xcel Energy Center for two days, bringing fans in-depth analysis from TSN’s hockey experts in Minnesota at the 2011 NHL ENTRY DRAFT, plus interviews with draft-eligible players and NHL team representatives leading up to next Friday’s event.

 

THAT’S HOCKEY 2NITE

Monday, June 20 and Tuesday, June 21 at 8 p.m. ET on TSN

In the first of two special 30-minute episodes of THAT’S HOCKEY 2NITE, host Steve Kouleas and analyst Craig Button examine the “next generation” of players in each Canadian NHL team’s farm system, as well as current players 21-and-under. The second episode features Kouleas and Button looking back at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft and “re-drafting” the Top 30 picks based on one more year’s worth of player development. Results of the re-draft will also be available on TSN.ca.

 

TSN.ca

Along with all the latest news, analysis, blogs and exclusive web hits from the 2011 NHL ENTRY DRAFT, TSN.ca features a live chat with former NHL GM Craig Button during the First Round and tracks each pick as it happens live in Minnesota. Fans can also join the by commenting on TSN.ca’s special series of DRAFT articles leading up to next Friday’s event.

 

For those fans on-the-go, TSN.ca keeps everyone up-to-date on the DRAFT with the TSN MOBILE app for iPad, iPhone and BlackBerry.

 

TSN RADIO 1050

TSN RADIO 1050 has its finger on the pulse of the 2011 NHL ENTRY DRAFT with comprehensive coverage on all of its shows, including THE MIKE RICHARDS SHOW and CYBULSKI & COMPANY, which are broadcasting live from Minnesota on Thursday and Friday next week.

 

NHL NETWORK

NHL Network has live coverage of Rounds 2 through 7 from the 2011 NHL ENTRY DRAFT on Saturday, June 25, beginning at 11 a.m. ET. Host Brian Duff is at Xcel Energy Center with analysts Craig Button and EJ Hradek and reporter Deb Placey, delivering in-depth analysis and interviews from the DRAFT.

 

NHL Network also readies fans for the DRAFT next Friday with a 60-minute PRE-DRAFT SHOW at 6 p.m. ET and wraps-up the First Round with a POST-DRAFT SHOW at 11 p.m. ET.

 

Where in the World Will Puck the Media Be this Summer? A Guide to the Site the Next Few Months

I have a tendency to sort of come and go during the summer months, so I thought I’d let you know what’s coming up.

Awards and Draft – I’ll have my thoughts on the coverage of both events, including my annual plea for VERSUS to produce it’s own coverage of the draft rather than hopping on TSN’s, throughout this week.

2011-12 NHL Schedule – I am not sure of when the league’s schedule for next season will come out. It happened during the similar week last year, and I have heard some rumor to that happening this year. When it does come out, we’ll scope through it and look at some of the potential TV games (Black Friday? Winter Classic? HNIC?) throughout the year.

2011-12 NHL TV Schedule – You know Puck the Media is the place to be for all 2011-12 NHL TV schedule news, when that all comes out in August, I’ll be around.

That still leaves a huge gap in July. I’m sure I’ll get around to some interviews (I plan to post a full conversation I had with Mike Emrick and John Shannon on the Glowing Puck later this summer) and the occasional piece, but I’d love some suggestions from you folks on what you’d like to see. The comments section grew into a very lively place this season, and I’d love to read some ideas.

Thank you for supporting Puck the Media during an up and down, in and out 2011-12 season. Enjoy your summer. No matter what, it appears I’ll be ready and raring to go come September and October. For now – well, for after this week – a bit of a break.

Four Things I Liked (and Four More I Didn’t) From NBC and VERSUS’ Coverage of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final

Twitter has allowed us the chance to see the unfiltered opinions of everyone on the planet, and it is probably going to be what ends up destroying society. You knew that already, but here’s the thing: it makes it even more difficult to do a website that relies on some opinion once and a while when everything you see is opinion due to the very necessary evil of having Twitter as both a device for promotion or interaction.

So, chances are, if I know you on Twitter, I already know what you think of the production NBC and VERSUS did on the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, the first as a pair of networks working under the same umbrella. Meaning that the same three people worked a hockey telecast for the entire seven-game series for the first time since 2004 and only the second time since 1994. Meaning that VERSUS was used even more as a support mechanism for what NBC was doing. Meaning that Darren Pang and Mike Milbury and Keith Jones could show up on both networks throughout the night.

Is it good that I get to hear all this opinion on what is ultimately something that should be secondary to the game? Not at all. That said, here are my thoughts on what the NBC Sports Group did both right and wrong with the 2011 Stanley Cup Final.

Right

1. Mike Emrick

I say it often, but Emrick has become the dean of hockey announcers now that Bob Cole has faded into old age stereotypes. Despite losing a tad of his own fastball (I’m fairly certain Brad and Andrew Ference are not related), Doc remains hockey’s best off-ice ambassador. He’s the only announcer who can completely lose it at any moment, and still retain dignity and class and gravitas while doing it (I’m looking at you, Gus Johnson). The final half-minute or so was terrific and stirring as usual, after a year in 2010 where none of the championship calls ended up looking good in retrospect. Emrick is probably the most-liked major network announcer (can you imagine fans pouring out the love for Buck or Costas or Nantz?) and for good reason: it’s because he’s better than everyone else, but still maintains the immense likability, personality and charm that makes this sport so terrific.

Also, in a hilarious turn of events, Doc was featured on Jimmy Kimmel Live’s weekly recurring segment, “This Week in Unnecessary Censorship.”

2. Liam McHugh 

Of NBC’s three hosts over seven games (McHugh, Bill Patrick and Dan Patrick) McHugh was best at remaining on point, on key and supporting his analysts. Look, the fact is, when Dan Patrick is at a desk it’s most likely he’s the most recognizable figure to the casual sports fan, so he’ll tend to overplay things. McHugh manages to retain his lively personality from hosting the at times fun, but at times unwatchable The Daily Line, without making things about himself, as studio hosts are won to do. His rise at VERSUS has been the biggest surprise of the NHL TV season, and I hope he sticks around now that there’s a lot more hockey to be done at the network.

On another note: NBC needs to have a permanent hockey host, whether it is McHugh or somebody else. When he was with Milbury, or Milbury and McGuire, the discussion got quieter and 400,000% more intelligent. It was like going from Tucker Max to Malcolm Gladwell. He seemed to fit well with that team, so I hope they keep him around. Regardless, I certainly hope NBC doesn’t leave Milbury and McGuire to themselves again.

3. Let’s See That Pretty Face

During NBC’s broadcast of Game 2, they had the line of the Sedin twins and Alex Burrows introduce themselves. I’m not sure if it was to get viewers better acquainted with the Vancouver Canucks, to make Burrows a little less of a villain (or perhaps more of one) after the Game 1 biting incident, or just to try something out, but I liked it. I think NBC should expand upon it: next season, do what the NFL does. Have each team playing’s top line, top defense pair, and starting goaltender introduce themselves on camera. We’re always complaining about how we don’t get the players out there and how they’re unrecognizable … well this is the perfect way to solve that problem. Let people connect with the players on a visual level.

4. The amount of coverage

Hockey coverage on television was not in a good place in 2006, and that was especially true during the Stanley Cup Final. OLN did okay with Games 1 & 2, airing pre-game and post-game, but then disappeared for the series. There was no NHL Network, so when NBC went on and off the air, it was surrounded by nothing. It was hard to get into it when it was just a game telecast.

Flash forward to 2011, Games 3-7: I can tune into NHL Live at 4:00 p.m. ET and go straight through on NHL Network’s On the Fly (which was awesome during the Final) until 7:30 p.m. ET, and then follow either On the Fly or VERSUS’ Hockey Central up until game time. Following the final whistle, I can go over to VERSUS for Hockey Central until at least 11:30 p.m. ET, and On the Fly until about Midnight, and after Game 7, I could’ve sworn I was seeing new material until at least 2:00 a.m. ET. That’s 8-10 hours of hockey.

Television is all about building block programming, and getting a chunk of viewers to stay with something for hours and hours. It’s why college football and basketball rule Saturdays and the NFL rules Sundays during the fall and winter: you tune in at Noon, and you can watch live programming until around midnight that day. It encourages and rewards you for staying tuned 12 hours straight. The NHL and their TV partners have finally made it so that hockey fans can put the same experience around their league’s biggest event, and it’s a very good thing.

Wrong

1. Lack of Interviews 

I could be wrong on this account, but on NBC’s coverage of Game 7, after the Bruins had won I don’t think I saw more than four interviews with people from around that franchise. There should be a lot more. Every key player on the team should have a microphone in their face. Send Dan Patrick or Darren Pang down to ice level to get everyone. I wanted to see (and this includes some I did) Tim Thomas, Zdeno Chara, Claude Julien, Brad Marchand, Mark Recchi, Peter Chiarelli, Cam Neely, Patrice Bergeron, Tyler Seguin, and perhaps even Jeremy Jacobs, and I don’t think lone man on the ice Pierre McGuire got half.

The Stanley Cup is the coolest, most iconic image associated with hockey, and especially associated with the NHL. There is no player that draws fans to this game more than the promise of the Stanley Cup being presented does. Connect more of the athletes with that moment, so that everybody around this country knows who the key players in winning sports’ most difficult professional tournament were.

2. Reporters

I think inside the glass is the greatest innovation in televising hockey since I was born, but it does not provide you with the amount of interviews you want. Have one or two reporters on site to check out the atmosphere around the game. It was really cool when we got to see Darren Pang interview Wayne Gretzky during Game 6. Sure, it can be annoying, but heck, let’s show people how much of a draw the Stanley Cup Final is. Get someone to put mics in the faces of Denis Leary and Michael J. Fox (who attended at least one game together) and let them trash talk. Talk to Michael Buble, the multi-platinum crooner who cancelled a concert in Connecticut so he could fly cross-continent to watch Game 7, and again, have more access to players. I was not thrilled that people like Bob Harwood (who finished up the year on NHL Network) were let go when NBC’s folks took over VERSUS. I think the networks should find a way to let ice-level reporters and inside the glass co-exist.

3. The “analysts as coaches” thing. 

Are we really back to this, guys? This sounds a lot like the notes networks give, but I find it just plain weird and off-putting when NBC has the studio analysts (in this case, Mike Milbury and Keith Jones) “play pretend” as the coaches of both teams. The two analysts seemed confused by the gimmick and how far they should take it, and I’m sure everyone in the audience couldn’t say anything but “… what on earth is this?” I don’t think it adds anything that you couldn’t get from just straight analysis (does anyone buy that either of these guys know what the coach would or should say to his players?) and it just plain comes off as odd.

4. The Green Men

Now, I like The Green Men. They completely cop to the fact that they are unoriginal (the whole gag of spandex, uni-colored suits is stolen from FX sitcom It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) and just doing it for the love of the team and a bit of attention. How is it that NBC managed to ignore them during the entire seven-game series? The Green Men were flown out to Boston for Games 2, 3 and 6, so they were at all of them. Yet, NBC found a way to almost entirely block them out.

Love them or hate them, isn’t there a story to be made there? For a network that’s biggest angle on the Canucks seemed to be “Hey, guys! Remember Ryan Kesler from the Olympics? America, booyah!” wouldn’t focusing on just what sort of wacky person follows the Canucks do wonders to make the team more recognizable? I can picture my barber going “oh yeah, well Vancouver has those guys in the green suits? ain’t that somethin’ else?” I think we could’ve used a little more of a display of just how crazy hockey fans in Canada were than just the simple, incorrect platitude that all of Canada was rooting for a Cup.

Conclusion 

So it would seem that this stuff evens out. I’d still give NBC and VERSUS a beyond-passing grade for their coverage of the Stanley Cup Final. None of the things that annoyed me had anything to do with their ability to cover the actual game on the ice from all the angles. It was all superfluous. On the other hand, the things I did like were things that I had to see during game action, for the most part.

The added coverage and sheer number of people working the event helped too. Though I’d love to see VERSUS do a half-hour NHL Overtime show every night during the Final, off days included, I thought on game days NBC, VERSUS and NHL Network shone like gold to bring hockey fans a cornucopia of pleasure for the eyes. They can tap into it even more, but with 10 years up ahead on these networks, it is hard not to feel like they are well on their way in the right direction. Whenever you see that NBC commercial about them televising hockey’s biggest moments for the next 10 years – another awesome bit of business during the Final – you totally believe them.