The NHL announced the games that’ll be shown on Versus/NBC this year and the list is pretty bizarre. There are some teams with a ton of appearances that make sense. The four way tie for second place between Boston, Detroit, Pittsburgh and Washington sees them with 14 potential appearances each. They’re all major ratings draws due to being in large American hockey markets, having recent success and/or having Crosby and Ovechkin.
In first place is the New York Rangers with 16 potential appearances which makes little to no sense. The Rangers will be mediocre again like they are every year and despite NYC being the largest US media market most people outside of New York hate NYC and the Rangers.
What’s stunning though is this list:
Montreal 6 appearances
Toronto 2 appearances
Vancouver 2 appearances
Winnipeg 1 appearance
Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa no appearances
Sure, I get it, they’re Canadian. But can you really tell me that with the Florida Panthers appearing on a national broadcast (only once) that it wouldn’t be a bigger draw for people to see the Flames or the Oilers? What about Vancouver, the reigning Western Conference champs? What about Toronto, an original six team with plenty of expat fans living south of the border now?
Perhaps the schedulers decided most Canadian ex-pat fans would buy Center Ice anyways, but I have to imagine people still remember Gretzky’s Oilers and would tune in. Wouldn’t casual fans also want to see the BRAND NEW Winnipeg Jets with their new uniforms? Couldn’t Versus play up the Calgary – Tampa rivalry?
Nobody wants to watch the Senators, even in Canada, so at least that makes sense.
Tampa Bay and Buffalo both have 11 national TV appearances as well ahead of teams like Los Angeles and San Jose. If the argument for Buffalo is that there are lots of Sabres fans not living in Buffalo anymore then I’d refer you to the point about Canadian teams above. Tampa Bay? They had a nice season and have Stamkos, but are they really a huge TV draw?
I hope for the sake of league revenue NBC/Versus is right, but it’s certainly not how I’d schedule things.