There were no game broadcasts originally slated to hit NBC between Feb. 7-26, but the NHL anticipated that games would be added to the telecast schedule at a later date, per Brooks. And yet, now, with the league firmly entrenched in its plans not to sanction player participation in the Olympics, NBC appears entrenched in a decision not to show any NHL games during that time frame.
"This is a network decision that several industry sources in touch with Slap Shots over the past two weeks interpret as nothing less than the league's U.S. national television rights-holder giving a symbolic middle finger to Gary Bettman and the Board of Governors for withholding its players from one of NBC's most important properties," Brooks said. "It is unclear when the network informed the NHL of its decision, but the league was not aware the original schedule had been cast in stone."
In other words, according to Brooks, NBC has essentially told the NHL: If you're not going to the Olympics, we're going to show the Olympics without you. Or any of your games.
For comparison's sake, NBC was documented as having broadcast 20 different NHL regular season games during the same span of time in 2017, Brooks added. And this year's apparent decision to put the NHL in the dark must have been a surprise, he speculated, considering the New York Rangers even moved a jersey retirement ceremony from one February date to another out of concern for conflicting with a nationally broadcast game from NBC -- a nationally broadcast game that now, per Brooks, won't be broadcast on NBC at all.
This comes days after San Jose Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasicregarding its repeated refusal to support player participation in the PyeongChang Games.