October 19, 2009
We're received a few messages and seen a few comments from readers regarding the NHL's decision not to schedule any games yesterday (Oct. 18) -- the second Sunday in October in which there hasn't been a single game played (the first being Oct. 4).
What gives? According to Steve Hatze Petros, Senior VP for Scheduling and Broadcasting at the NHL, "It's all about available dates."
Each franchise gives him a list of arena home dates well before the season. Factoring in the demands of the League's broadcast partners, special event games and "wrinkles" like massive 15-game Saturday dockets, the NHL develops a schedule; and, for whatever reason, these Sundays were left in the dark.
Considering these are NFL Sundays -- and in the case of Oct. 18, an MLB League Championship Series weekend -- there's a natural suspicion that the NHL didn't want to put early-season hockey against that level of sports entertainment competition. We asked John Dellapina, NHL Director of Media Relations, whether baseball or football played a role:
"There was no League decision to avoid the NFL Sundays or MLB playoffs on these two days -- that really doesn't make sense given the difference in markets from country to country and city to city. But we don't know whether any individual clubs felt that Oct. 4 and Oct. 18 were dates to avoid."
If case you're wondering what he's getting at, consider that the New York Rangers (1), New York Islanders (0) and New Jersey Devils (0) play a combined one game on Sundays in October; Jets, Giants and Yankees fans thank them for it.
The Pittsburgh Penguins don't play on a Sunday until Dec. 27 at 7 p.m.; hours after the Steelers face the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field. The Chicago Blackhawks, who have four Sunday home games on the schedule through December, also schedule their games for 7 p.m. faceoffs, presumably to avoid Da Bears.
So while the NHL doesn't schedule around the NFL, its U.S.-based teams clearly do -- even if the Detroit Red Wings don't play at home on a Sunday until Jan. 2010. Must be some sort of neighborly sports charity going on there ...