So the national television game schedules were released by the NHL on Thursday, and all in all it's what you would expect. It features a lot of the Red Wings, Bruins, Capitals, Flyers, Blackhawks, Rangers and Penguins -- the usual suspects.
It's clear why they are on the tube so much. They have earned it with their play on the ice and the fan support off it. It's only smart business for a league that is the lowest of the USA's four major sports leagues in interest and viewership.
But how about the teams making the fewest appearance? It's some of what you'd expect. The Columbus Blue Jackets, at this point, will not grace the networks of NBC or Versus (or whatever the station will be named this season), not even once. The Florida Panthers will be seen nationwide on one occasion -- a date with the Penguins. Those are pretty understandable. It would be nice to see a little more of them, but it makes sense. They are rebuilt rosters, but have been bad for some time and don't exactly have large followings (we're being kind).
Next on the list, though, is the Nashville Predators. The Preds will be seen on national TV just twice. The only thing against the Preds is that they are in a small, southern market. But the quality of the team warrants a few more games than this. It's possible they will get flexed onto national coverage late in the season, but either way, it's a shame they are being left out save two games. After all, the Predators did make it into the second round of the playoffs last season, hockey's equivalent of the Elite Eight.
While upset, the people over at the Section 303 blog, a Predators destination, aren't surprised by the stiff.
Staying in the Western Conference, the Minnesota Wild will get quite a bit more air time despite not making the playoffs for the third straight season last year. In all, the Wild will be broadcast from sea to shining sea 10 times.
Here are the U.S. channel schedules, starting with NBC. I hope you like the Keystone State battles. (Source: NHL.com)
|Mon.||1/2||N.Y. Rangers||Philadelphia||1 p.m.||Winter Classic|
|Sun.||2/12||Washington||N.Y. Rangers||3 p.m.||NBC/VS Flex|
|Sun.||2/12||Philadelphia||Detroit||7:30 p.m.||NBC/VS Flex|
|Sun.||2/19||San Jose||Detroit||12:30 p.m.||N/A|
|Sun.||2/19||St. Louis||Chicago||3 p.m.||N/A|
|Sun.||3/4||Boston||N.Y. Rangers||3 p.m.||NBC/VS Flex|
|Sun.||3/4||Philadelphia||Washington||7 p.m.||NBC/VS Flex|
|Sun.||3/11||Los Angeles||Chicago||7 p.m.||NBC/VS Flex|
|Sun.||3/11||Boston||Pittsburgh||7:30 p.m.||NBC/VS Flex|
|Sun.||3/18||Pittsburgh||Philadelphia||3 p.m.||NBC/VS Flex|
|Sun.||3/18||Washington||Chicago||7 p.m.||NBC/VS Flex|
|Sun.||4/1/||Boston||N.Y. Rangers||3 p.m.||NBC/VS Flex|
|Sun.||4/1||Philadelphia||Pittsburgh||7:30 p.m.||NBC/VS Flex|
|Sat.||4/7||Buffalo||Boston||3 p.m.||NBC/VS Flex|
|Sat.||4/7||Washington||N.Y. Rangers||3 p.m.||NBC/VS Flex|
|Sat.||4/7||Philadelphia||Pittsburgh||4 p.m.||NBC/VS Flex|
|Sun.||4/7||Chicago||Detroit||4 p.m.||NBC/VS Flex|
Now here's the full schedule for Versus/NBC Sports Network.
Finally, here's how it will go on the NHL Network.