August 18, 2011
NBC and VERSUS released their 2011-12 NHL regular season television schedules on Thursday, only there won't be a VERSUS as of Jan. 2, which makes for an awkward press release. (The schedules were also released for NHL Network U.S., CBC, TSN and TSN 2.)
Here are the essentials from NBC:
The schedule is highlighted by 100 regular-season games across NBC and VERSUS, which will be re-branded the NBC Sports Network midway through the season on January 2; expanded exclusive cable coverage, including Wednesday and Sunday nights, and live 30-minute pre- and post-game shows for every game on VERSUS; the return of Hockey Day in America on NBC and NHL All-Star Weekend on VERSUS; the introduction of a Thanksgiving Friday NBC broadcast; and national distribution of all Stanley Cup Playoff games.
As a result of the historic 10-year television and media rights agreement between the NHL and the NBC Sports Group which takes the partnership through the 2020-21 season, there will be major additions to both NBC's and VERSUS' schedules during the 2011-2012 season that will benefit hockey fans, including:
A new tradition will begin this year when NBC commences its broadcast coverage on Friday, November 25, at 1 p.m. ET, the day after Thanksgiving, with an original-six match-up featuring the Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins against the 2008 Stanley Cup Champion Detroit Red Wings.
Exclusive cable coverage on VERSUS on Wednesday nights, added games on Sunday nights, including many exclusive nights, to provide VERSUS with 90 nights of exclusive NHL coverage (up from 54 last season). A new live pre- and post-game show, NHL Live, before and after every telecast on VERSUS with up-to-the-minute information and expert analysis.
NBC and NBC Sports Network will televise 10 games in the final seven days of the regular season leading into the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, including a triple-header on Saturday, April 7. For the first time ever, all Stanley Cup Playoff games will be televised nationally on an NBCU platform and exclusive coverage of the postseason begins with the Conference Semifinals.
Well, that's a lot of Pierre McGuire hockey right there.
But, as in every season, there are bound to be some teams that get a wee more attention than others. With that, we bring you the winners and losers of the 2011-12 NHL schedule on NBC and VERSUS.
Here are the team-by-team totals for the VERSUS/NBC Sports Network schedule next season, including NBC Flex Games, in which the VERSUS game selection for that date will depend upon the game that NBC chooses for their broadcast window. So, essential, this is all the potential appearances for the teams. In brackets are the total number of appearances last season from the initial schedule.
Anaheim Ducks: 6 (1)
Boston Bruins: 14 (11)
Buffalo Sabres: 11 (9)
Calgary Flames: 0 (1, which was the Heritage Classic)
Carolina Hurricanes: 4 (4)
Chicago Blackhawks: 11 (11)
Colorado Avalanche: 9 (5)
Columbus Blue Jackets: 2 (3)
Dallas Stars: 7 (3)
Detroit Red Wings: 14 (11)
Edmonton Oilers: Zero (Zero)
Florida Panthers: 1 (Zero)
Los Angeles Kings: 6 (5)
Minnesota Wild: 9 (9)
Montreal Canadiens: 6 (6)
Nashville Predators: 2 (1)
New Jersey Devils: 7 (5)
New York Islanders: 1 (2)
New York Rangers: 16 (11)
Ottawa Senators: Zero (Zero)
Philadelphia Flyers: 11 (9)
Phoenix Coyotes: 4 (5)
Pittsburgh Penguins: 14 (11)
San Jose Sharks: 5 (8)
St. Louis Blues: 8 (5)
Tampa Bay Lightning: 11 (6)
Toronto Maple Leafs: 2 (1)
Vancouver Canucks: 2 (1)
Washington Capitals: 14 (11)
Winnipeg Jets: 1 (1, as the Atlanta Thrashers)
Here is the broadcast schedule on NBC:
Here are the total number of appearances for each NHL team on the NBC Sports Groups networks:
Some winners and losers …
Winner: The American Four, a.k.a. the U.S. Original Six teams. There are 23 games in the mix for NBC, meaning there are 46 teams in that mix. Of those 46 possible appearances, 22 are either by the New York Rangers, Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings or Chicago Blackhawks. Combine that with the gaudy appearance numbers for cable and it's good to be old school.
Loser: California. As Steve Lepore of Puck The Media notes, there will be exactly one game between NBC and VERSUS/NBCSN that will be held in the state of California: The Anaheim Ducks hosting the Chicago Blackhawks on Feb. 26. California has the same number of home games as Winnipeg and one less than Vancouver.
Winner: Steven Stamkos(notes). The Lightning see a considerable jump in coverage after last season, even if they couldn't crack the NBC lineup. The Bolts face the Washington Capitals three times on VERSUS/NBCSN. In total between those networks and NHLN, the Bolts are on 21 times. Wow.
Loser: Taylor Hall(notes), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins(notes), Jordan Eberle(notes). For the second straight season, the Edmonton Oilers will not be featured on NBC or VERSUS, despite potentially featuring the first overall picks from the last two drafts that VERSUS aired. They couldn't even have a little generational throwdown between the Oilers and the Red Wings on the docket?
Winner: Playoff Bubble Watchers. The overload of games from March 25 through April 7 is going to feel like the unofficial start of the postseason. Give the schedule-makers credit: With teams like the St. Louis Blues, Columbus Blue Jackets and Nashville Predators all featured, we could be watching the playoff life or death of these teams on a national level.
Loser: Anyone Who Loved The 2011 Stanley Cup Final. Yes, we know it's nice to toss a bone to NHL Network with the Jan. 7 game between the Boston Bruins and the Vancouver Canucks in Boston. But to not have that game on NBC or NBCSN is a whiff.
What are your impressions of the 2011-12 NHL schedule on NBC?