The NHL released its national TV schedule for games on Aug. 30 despite continued labor uncertainty and, if everything goes well in that department, it's going to be an interesting season for Boston Bruins fans like me.
In total, 17 Bruins games will be shown nationally on the networks of NBC with the possibility of more too. NBC will kick off its NHL on NBC coverage on Nov. 23 with the Thanksgiving Showdown game between the Bruins and New York Rangers at 1 p.m. (A better moniker for this game might be the Black Friday Showdown since it's not actually on Thanksgiving Day.)
Last year's Thanksgiving Showdown between the Bruins and Detroit Red Wings was a big deal, heavily promoted on NBC and even given a float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade featuring Bruins team president Cam Neely. The Bruins ended up losing that game 3-2 in a shootout, but it was still fun to watch and highly preferable to fighting traffic and crowds on the biggest shopping day of the year.
The other Bruins game definitely set for airing on NBC will be on Feb. 17 during Hockey Day in America. It will be a mid-afternoon game against the Chicago Blackhawks. NBC is increasing its Hockey Day in America coverage to include two games there and an evening game over on NBC Sports Network. Let's hope that this year's Bruins showing on Hockey Day in America is better than last year's.
Three more Bruins games at the end of the season might be shown on NBC. It just depends on what the network decides to do and they could send those games to NBC Sports Network. This includes the last game of the regular season, April 13 against the Buffalo Sabres, although that is marked as non-exclusive, meaning NESN would also broadcast it.
Speaking of NBC Sports Network, though, at least one Bruins game for every month of the regular season is set to be shown there, starting with the season opener on Oct. 11 against the Philadelphia Flyers. It's just like last year, except the station's been renamed and there's no Stanley Cup banner to raise this time.
NBC Sports Network will have three nights of hockey games every week, from Monday to Wednesday, and add Sunday games starting in January for a four-night block of icy goodness.
Also, nine Bruins games will be shown on NHL Network, although those are non-exclusive as well. Of course, any game without a national broadcaster will be carried on NESN.
Click here for a full schedule of Bruins games with national broadcasters. The schedule is also available in PDF, ICS and CSV formats for further viewing pleasure.
I think it's interesting to see this national schedule, which assumes the season will be its full length and start on time, on the NHL website right beside news related to collective bargaining agreement negotiations. If those aren't resolved quickly, it's possible some of these broadcast plans could be dashed, but it is nice to see a note of optimism in crafting this full-length schedule nonetheless.
Emma Harger is a Boston Bruins fan who, frankly, just wants hockey season to start already. She's getting antsy.