August 19, 2011
Trending Topics is a column that looks at the week in hockey according to Twitter. If you're only going to comment to say how stupid Twitter is, why not just go have a good cry for the slow, sad death of your dear internet instead?
The NHL's national television broadcast schedules for both the U.S. and Canada came out yesterday, cluing millions of puckheads in on what games to mark on their calendars.
And of course all anyone did was complain about it.
It's become an annual tradition: The NHL schedule comes out and you rush to count the number of games your favorite team is playing on national TV, then the number of games its rival is playing on national TV. Then you talk about the unbelievable levels of contempt the League must have for your favorite team that it's only being show X-number of games compared to rival's Y-number.
"Has everyone at the league lost their minds?" you'll be free to ask to no one in particular.
Take, for example, the Florida Panthers. This year, they'll be on one national broadcast, against the Penguins on Versus, Oct. 11, in a non-exclusive game. For some reason, Panthers fans and media don't get it.
"Guess they don't believe in GM Dale Tallon's overhaul either," wrote Sun-Sentinel scribe Harvey Fialkov on a now-deleted post. "Don't see one mention of Panthers in NHL release on this season's national TV schedule. Feeling like the Rodney Dangerfield of hockey fans?"
Will they be good this year? Maybe. That's not why they're not on TV.
It's hardly a lack of respect (though we at Puck Daddy hear that team doctor Vinny Boombatz is excellent). Panthers supporters should be feeling like the Rupert Pupkin of hockey fans, because they, too, are fictional. The truth is no one gives a rat's ass about them one way or the other. No one goes to their games and no one watches them on TV. And it's because they haven't made the playoffs since before George W. Bush got elected. The first time.
The one appearance this year, by the way, is up appreciably from the zero NBC or Versus carried last year.
(Coming Up: The glory of NHL Band Names and BizNasty vs. Vancouver Canucks fans.)
As you'd expect, the usual suspects show up on national broadcasts the most often. The Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins will be on 30 times, while the New York Rangers will be on 31. That's the most of anyone in the league. And that's not an indication that the Rangers are as good as or better than anyone else in the league — they're a middle-of-the-pack team in a tight Eastern Conference, and likely won't win their division — but it does tell you the size of their media market. Hint: It's the biggest one.
(And so why are the Islanders getting no more than two games? Because no one cares about them either.)
Pittsburgh and Philadelphia fans will get to talk about the fact that the Flyers' big offseason moves didn't get them ahead of their hated rivals in appearances, as the Pens lead 29-26, but it's because they don't have Sidney Crosby(notes).
(Worth noting, however, that there was one terribly odd decision that came out of all of this: That the Winnipeg Jets will be on Hockey Night in Canada 22 freaking times this season. That's compared to just 17 for the Presidents' Trophy-winning Vancouver Canucks. CBC — and, one supposes, hockey fans in general — realize they're airing games, buying tickets and wearing shirts for the Atlanta Thrashers, right? Did anyone watch a Thrashers game last year? Terrible hockey. And I'm pretty sure most Quiznos franchises have more people in them at any given time than all of Manitoba, so they're not exactly gonna be a big draw. Have fun slogging through that quarter of a season though. Should be a blast.)
The one somewhat legitimate gripe a fan may be able to make is that Eastern Conference teams are shown nearly twice as much as the West's, with the Atlantic dominating all appearances by division. Huge difference, obviously, but usually a function of start times rather than, once again, a belief that the best teams in the league happen to be in the East or Atlantic almost exclusively. Everyone knows that no good teams are west of Detroit, which is why the Sharks are only on national TV six times.
Honestly, if your favorite team isn't on as much as you'd like them to be, it's nothing personal. The NHL, like all professional leagues, isn't and shouldn't be in the business of egalitarianism when it comes to putting its product on television. If fans want life to be fair, I bet there's an atom B league down the road that would love the support.
And hey, if it's really that big of a deal, you can always pony up the cash for Center Ice.
You guys like hockey-related puns about bands, right?
@HeyMyNameIsWill: The Tragically Yip
@NonAmericanHero: Alice in Duchenes
@allanetmanski: The Backes Street Boys
@CHNJoeMeloni: Byfuglien Springfield
@6thSens: Tears For Fehrs
@twolinepass: Neutral Barilkotel (So what? I was really proud of it.)
@DownGoesBrown: We Were Promised the Jets Back
@MacLeod27: Electric Laich Orchestra
@WayneTwittaker: My Bloody Valabik
And your winner:
@Cas514: Wu-Letang Clan
Pearls of Biz-dom
BizNasty on fandom: "And only some 'fans' rioted in Van. The real ones were still in the rink trying to figure out why they just paid 1500 bucks for a ticket."
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