NHL Playoffs: NBC: And How The NHL's TV Deals Are Killing The Game

Chase RuttigCorrespondent IMay 3, 2010

GLENDALE, AZ - APRIL 14:  NHL commissioner Gary Bettman speaks during a press conference before Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals between the Detroit Red Wings and the Phoenix Coyotes during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Jobing.com Arena on April 14, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

This may be the best time of year to be a sports fan the NBA and NHL Playoffs are underway, baseball is kicking off, the NFL and NBA Drafts take place. It is a great time to be a sports fan, especially a sports fan with time on their hands.

But the sports fan's gain is the NHL's loss, and it is their one fatal flaw in their new marketing strategy, once again stealing the NBA's ideas. They have the new playoff commercials with the showing of classic moments ending with the saying History Will Be Made. Which is vaguely close to the NBA's Where Amazing Happens commercials a few years ago.

It is plainly clear that the NHL has always tried to become the NBA, which makes sense as Gary Bettman used to work for David Stern. They expanded to the South around the same time the NBA did, and while it has had mixed results for the NBA, it has been a fail of epic proportions for the NHL. The NHL needs to realize it will never as popular as the NBA in America and it has its niche and has potential to grow.

I won't cover the whole Gary Bettman era as a Canadian it will probably look like a personal attack, which is for another day, but the NBA has the second bannana status to the NFL and looks like it has a stranglehold on that spot and is finally recovering from the lack of talent that was caused by its own expansion era.

But the main thing the NBA has that the NHL doesn't is a great TV deal. The NBA has every playoff game available in all corners of the continent no matter what TV service provider you have and their games are shown in peak viewing times and draw high ratings due to this.

The NHL on the other hand is the opposite. Versus, well no one has Versus, but I actually like what they do with the games and their announcers do a good job of calling the game and they have decent production.

That brings me to NBC, what can I say? Hockey games should not start at twelve, and this is the network that pre-empted the OT of the deciding game of the Eastern Conference Finals for Preakness Stakes pre-race coverage.

NBC just wanted hockey just to say they had it, and have put absolutely no effort on building the game or giving it any platform on the station.

The games go against ABC's NBA fare and put the NHL's best games on against the NBA's which is not fair, and the coverage NBC provides is nowhere near the level Versus operates on besides for the announcing crew of Mike Emerick and Ed Olcyzk which may be the best in hockey behind whatever crew the Hockey Night In Canada crew uses.

The solution for the NHL is clear. Go back to ESPN. They had the best coverage of the game and despite for the low ratings due to the less than stellar matchups, but other than that ESPN has been the only good network the NHL has ever had as a partner.

ESPN still does a great job of covering the game on their website and seem to do a better job of promoting the game than NBC without even having the rights.

The NHL Playoffs are the most exciting postseason tournament in pro sports and it is a shame that they don't get the spotlight the players deserve.

Chase Ruttig is a 17 Year Old Sportswriter covering the sports world from small-town Canada. Check him out on twitter @ www.twitter.com/chaseruttig . Thanks for reading and feedback is always appreciated