NBC's coverage of the 2010 Winter Olympics so far has been poor to say the least. It has been even worse for men's ice hockey. Instead of showing some of the premier games that have been played so far, most of the men's hockey has been played on channels like the USA network and MSNBC.
Team USA is slated to play Team Canada on Sunday, in what will be the biggest showdown of the tournament thus far. Both come in with 2-0 records, and the winner of the game will clinch first place in Group A and the automatic bye into the quarterfinals. Safe to say, it is a very important game.
You would think that a game this big would get the prime slot on NBC. Instead, it will take a backseat to ice dancing. Really, am I supposed to believe that ice dancing is more important than Canada vs. USA? I'm not trying to say that ice dancing can't be fun to watch, but it doesn't compare to this game.
Instead of being shown on NBC, the game is going to be shown on MSNBC. I don't know about most of you, but I don't even know what channel MSNBC is on my television, nor do I know if I even get it.
One of MSNBC's slogans is "The Place for Politics." Interesting, so the biggest game for U.S. hockey since the 2002 Gold Medal Game in Salt Lake is going to be played on a network known more for politics than any sort of sport?
Of course, Gary Bettman was barely worried at all about this. When asked about the game being moved to MSNBC, Bettman's response was, "I think a lot of people are making too big a deal of where this game's being played…from a TV standpoint. MSNBC is in over 90 million homes."
That may be true, but how many people actually watch MSNBC on a daily basis? That's not to say that people have to watch the channel to be able to watch the game on Sunday, but if that's true, then the game could be moved to any other channel in that many homes.
The NHL has been searching for an identity ever since the lockout cancelled the 2004-05 season. After the lockout, ESPN canceled their deal with the league, and Bettman was forced to find an alternative network. Somehow, he landed on the Outdoor Life Network which now goes by Versus. The league has struggled ever since to become more mainstream since Versus is not available to everyone in the US.
There are probably plenty of die-hard fans of figure skating and ice dancing out there, and I'm sure they will be watching the event on Sunday, but hockey fans everywhere must be thinking, "Why the heck isn't this game on NBC?" I'll still be watching the game as long as I can find MSNBC, but the move shows that hockey will continue to be on the back burner when it comes to most other sports during the Olympics, and that is disappointing.