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Albom doesn't get it

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The NHL had a very, very good thing with ESPN before the lockout.

In the late '90s maybe. By the time of the lockout, the NHL was already trending downwards in a big way and mostly had been relegated to the Deuce. More people have been watching the NHL on Versus this year and last year than they did on ESPN earlier this decade.

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As with most things NHL, there is really only one villain. It's the same guy that's taken the sport away from his most diehard fanbase and diluted the league talent level to chase owner expansion fees. The same guy that played hardball with ESPN and lost.

Once the NHL gets a real commissioner with real vision then maybe they'll start moving back up the national sports landscape. Until this time, I don't blame any of the networks for treating the sport like 2nd tier programming in most markets.

I think you are probably right, Bettman has achieved the opposite of what he was trying to accomplish. Way too many teams, and less exposure. Sure if you live in Detroit you get all the Hockey you want, but in many places it's popularity has diminished.

I think Hockey was moving in the right direction coming out of the 80's with the Islander/Oiler powerhouse teams, but it's been on a steady downward spiral since then, right about the time Bettman took over, and starting fixing things that didn't need fixing, and not fixing issues that needed fixing.

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I'm pretty sure ESPN told the NHL to take a hike, not the other way around, and this was a business decision also. That's because hockey takes 5-6 seat behind football, basketball, baseball, golf, maybe even cage fighting and demolition derbies ... lol

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another advantage to being on ESPN is they're more likely to promote it more within their existing programming. You think Sportscenter is just a news show? If it's in their interests for the game to grow then they'll talk about it more. Then maybe the frat boy in his dorm room in Iowa who watches Sportscenter when he wakes up at 11:30 am might start to become a fan.

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This is like asking if you can use someone's bathroom while yours is being repaired and then dictating when it should be available to use. It's NBC's network.

Duly noted, but I don't think anyone, NHL included, is demanding to dictate NBCs treatment of the sport, just that they consider moving the SC Final a little higher on their priority list (the profits/revenues issue aside) .......

but in any case I would like to know there's at least some toilet paper to use in that bathroom, if I even decide to use it. Maybe I'm wrong, I shouldn't expect even that, but if NBCs bottom line is advertisers and the revenues generated, then throw me, the viewer a bone too.

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another advantage to being on ESPN is they're more likely to promote it more within their existing programming. You think Sportscenter is just a news show? If it's in their interests for the game to grow then they'll talk about it more. Then maybe the frat boy in his dorm room in Iowa who watches Sportscenter when he wakes up at 11:30 am might start to become a fan.

That to me would be the main advantage of ESPN.

The good news is, the NHL is more attractive than it was just a few years ago coming out of the lockout. No, it's not the NFL, MLB, NBA or NASCAR and never will be. But ratings on network and cable have bounced back to late '90s level, the wide open play is more appealing than the trap, there are at least a couple of marketable stars in Crosby and Ovechkin, and NHL average attendance was higher than NBA attendance this year. Local ratings for hockey except in a few dog markets like Miami, Atlanta and Phoenix are more than respectable. The NHL shouldn't be the butt of jokes anymore and finally ESPN is once again interested in bringing the NHL back - on ESPN's terms of course, as the NHL still has little bargaining power.

The ideal scenario would be a few games on NBC (Winter Classic, a couple of afternoon playoff games, maybe 1 game of the Finals) just to say they have a "network deal", and ESPN & Versus sharing the rest. A bunch of regular season games and playoff games on Versus & ESPN2, maybe a regular season game of the week on ESPN, and playoff games on ESPN when the NBA schedule allows. But I don't think that's where it's headed. I think talks have been focused on ESPN taking the place of NBC. So while it's true that ESPN2 is more widely available than Versus, as lesgo pointed out, ESPN2 would be a downgrade from NBC.

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I'm pretty sure ESPN told the NHL to take a hike, not the other way around, and this was a business decision also. That's because hockey takes 5-6 seat behind football, basketball, baseball, golf, maybe even cage fighting and demolition derbies ... lol

Right, but what led up to that? Bettman's poor negotiating and decision making. He leveraged an offer from fledgling cable network looking for credibility against ESPN and ended up with more short term money but far less national visibility.

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I'm pretty sure ESPN told the NHL to take a hike, not the other way around, and this was a business decision also. That's because hockey takes 5-6 seat behind football, basketball, baseball, golf, maybe even cage fighting and demolition derbies ... lol

The NHL really has a lot more to offer ESPN now. ESPN isn't dumb, when they made their last offer, ratings were horrible, and the game itself warranted the ratings. Now, they have a product they can market.

Think of all the changes that have happened since they last carried hockey: Marketable young stars came up (ovie, crosby, toews, kane), growth in big markets Boston and Chicago, the outdoor game success, increase of goals-per-game, and increasing ratings.

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The NHL really has a lot more to offer ESPN now. ESPN isn't dumb, when they made their last offer, ratings were horrible, and the game itself warranted the ratings. Now, they have a product they can market.

Think of all the changes that have happened since they last carried hockey: Marketable young stars came up (ovie, crosby, toews, kane), growth in big markets Boston and Chicago, the outdoor game success, increase of goals-per-game, and increasing ratings.

You left out the most important new advantage since their last deal. HD

The game is so much better when viewed in HD. The speed is much more evident and the puck is much easier to follow. The entire presentation is far better than what they had prior to the HD platform becoming commonplace.

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You left out the most important new advantage since their last deal. HD

The game is so much better when viewed in HD. The speed is much more evident and the puck is much easier to follow. The entire presentation is far better than what they had prior to the HD platform becoming commonplace.

The glowing puck is crying.

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The NHL really has a lot more to offer ESPN now. ESPN isn't dumb, when they made their last offer, ratings were horrible, and the game itself warranted the ratings. Now, they have a product they can market.

Think of all the changes that have happened since they last carried hockey: Marketable young stars came up (ovie, crosby, toews, kane), growth in big markets Boston and Chicago, the outdoor game success, increase of goals-per-game, and increasing ratings.

You're right, so why isn't ESPN or the national networks following up on this? Seems to me the time is right. Someone suggested the possibility for better exposure may be happening but in the longer term will be difficult because the NHL still has little bargaining power. Perhaps this is because hockey generally still is a lower priority by those controlling the airwaves. Wrestling, cage fighting, demolition derbies and the like are still big. Nothing against those who like this stuff, but I could sit through the worst hockey game ever, over some of the garbage I see broadcasted these days. Hope this changes because it would be better for everyone, the fan, the league and the networks.

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The glowing puck is crying.

How about changing the pants to long legged style again? That would be a good move lol.

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You're right, so why isn't ESPN or the national networks following up on this? Seems to me the time is right. Someone suggested the possibility for better exposure may be happening but in the longer term will be difficult because the NHL still has little bargaining power. Perhaps this is because hockey generally still is a lower priority by those controlling the airwaves. Wrestling, cage fighting, demolition derbies and the like are still big. Nothing against those who like this stuff, but I could sit through the worst hockey game ever, over some of the garbage I see broadcasted these days. Hope this changes because it would be better for everyone, the fan, the league and the networks.

Because the NHL and Versus just extended their TV deal for 3 more years 4 months ago.

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You're right, so why isn't ESPN or the national networks following up on this?

They are. Talks have been ongoing since early spring. Their is an out on the Versus deal, at least on the exclusivity. The NHLPA is strongly in favor of ESPN. The NHL is worried about a low rights fee.

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Because the NHL and Versus just extended their TV deal for 3 more years 4 months ago.

Didn't know that. I had read recently that VS contract expires the end of this year, but no deal had been reached yet. Hadn't seen anything on NBC, except that the NHL received little if any money from NHL to air their games. That sucks then. I guess if VS or NBC isn't your thing, it comes down to getting our hockey fixes from the local markets broadcasters, like FSN-Detroit and the like. Just as well for me too, except that FSN-D doesn't carry many playoff games. That sucks too.

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Didn't know that. I had read recently that VS contract expires the end of this year, but no deal had been reached yet. Hadn't seen anything on NBC, except that the NHL received little if any money from NHL to air their games. That sucks then. I guess if VS or NBC isn't your thing, it comes down to getting our hockey fixes from the local markets broadcasters, like FSN-Detroit and the like. Just as well for me too, except that FSN-D doesn't carry many playoff games. That sucks too.

I didn't know it either but I was curious.

Link

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Versus is the best thing ever if you're an out of market Pens, Flyers, Rangers, or Caps fan. You're guaranteed to see at least two of these teams in HD every week.

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You left out the most important new advantage since their last deal. HD

The game is so much better when viewed in HD. The speed is much more evident and the puck is much easier to follow. The entire presentation is far better than what they had prior to the HD platform becoming commonplace.

You're right, I can't believe I forgot that!

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If I was NBC, I would be more interested in having games 1 and 4 than 1 and 2. 1 the opener - 4 could be a clincher, evener - at the other venue.

Why couldn't we have

Game 1 5/31 Sunday NBC in Det

Game 2 6/2 Tuesday VS in Det

Game 3 6/4 Thursday VS in Pitt

Game 4 6/6 Saturday NBC in Pitt

Game 5 6/9 Tuesday VS in Det

Game 6 6/11 Thurs NBC in Pitt

Game 7 6/13 Sat. NBC in Det

Could have met in the middle, with the series not waiting a week, but not playing back to back.....

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If I was NBC, I would be more interested in having games 1 and 4 than 1 and 2. 1 the opener - 4 could be a clincher, evener - at the other venue.

Why couldn't we have

Game 1 5/31 Sunday NBC in Det

Game 2 6/2 Tuesday VS in Det

Game 3 6/4 Thursday VS in Pitt

Game 4 6/6 Saturday NBC in Pitt

Game 5 6/9 Tuesday VS in Det

Game 6 6/11 Thurs NBC in Pitt

Game 7 6/13 Sat. NBC in Det

Could have met in the middle, with the series not waiting a week, but not playing back to back.....

You make too much sense.

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Someone said NBCs decision was in deference to Conan O'Brien and the Tonight show, avoiding games 3 & 4 (Versus is coverning those), thereby eliminating any possibility they might have to cut into O'Brien should a game go into OT. Apparently NBC had the option of which SC Final games they would cover.

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I can't understand why it isn't in ESPN's interest to show hockey ahead of everything except the other 3 major sports. Do they honestly think people would rather watch college softball or poker than playoff hockey? That's just silly.

Sportscenter shows hockey highlights every night during the playoffs, and none for half of these garbage "sports" they program on their own network. If they're already giving the NHL free exposure over their own programming, why wouldn't they want to show it?

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If I was the NHL, I'd do absolutely positively the same thing. Not playing for five or six days makes zero sense. Those that are semi-excited, forget about it and lose interest in the 70 to 80-degree weather.

The NHL has it's top name and it's top team in the finals FOR A SECOND SEASON IN A ROW. It's fresh on the mind and a weekend is coming up. Play the freakin two games in a row. They are at the same venue. It's not going to kill anyone and it does put emphasis on depth - something a great team should have.

I love it. I'd love to see this happen in every sport - two games, a break and then two more games. In fact, I think the NHL did this one year about 15 years ago in the first round and I really enjoyed it.

The NHL is dead set 100 percent right with this move. And it's not like players aren't used to playing back-to-back days. Deal with it. Create some interest with these two dates.

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And the part about games being rescheduled - check the NBA playoffs. You never know when a series is going to start two weeks in advance - minus possibly the NBA finals.

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I can't understand why it isn't in ESPN's interest to show hockey ahead of everything except the other 3 major sports. Do they honestly think people would rather watch college softball or poker than playoff hockey? That's just silly.

The rights for poker and college softball don't cost $72M/year. It would seem that the production costs for these events would be far less than traveling back and forth across North America covering NHL. Obviously, I'm not privy to their books but I'd be surprised if they didn't make more money on poker & softball than NHL hockey despite lower viewership.

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