NCSportsTalk.com - Puck Drops
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The NHL's national television schedule came out today, and the Hurricanes will have four nationally-televised games this season. If you're scoring at home, that's following a season in which the team lost fourteen straight games and finished 24th overall in the league; compare that to last year, where the Canes were coming off an appearance in the conference final and received precisely zero games on national TV.
Yeah, makes perfect sense to me as well.
Anyway, here's the breakdown:
The two games in Helsinki, on October 7 and 8 against Minnesota, will be televised by Versus at 12 PM Eastern time. Incidentally, of the three series (Carolina/Minnesota, Boston/Phoenix, Columbus/San Jose) that begin the season in Europe, only the Canes and Wild will have both of their games on Versus. The other two games that will be televised nationally are November 29, a 7:30 (changed from 7:00) start against the Dallas Stars at the RBC Center, and a March 15 game (also moved from 7:00 to 7:30) in Buffalo against the Sabres.
Expecting to see the Canes on NBC? Don't get your hopes up; despite the fact that NBC can "flex" games to broadcast on Sunday afternoons, the Canes only have two options: a February 13 game in Atlanta that is competing for airtime against the likes of PIT/NYR, BOS/DET and LA/PHI (good luck with that) and a home game against Buffalo on April 3 that competes with a NYR/PHI game. In other words, the chances are very slim that the Canes will be on broadcast television this year. (Unless they make the playoffs and face a favorable -- read, "Pittsburgh, Washington or Philadelphia" -- opponent, that is.)
As for the Versus blackout, the schedule monkey treated the Canes slightly kinder this year. This is entirely unofficial, but taking into account the number of games scheduled for a certain night you can normally figure out which games televised on Versus will be exclusive, meaning no other network in the United States can televise a game, either locally or nationally, during Versus' broadcast window. The "in the United States" disclaimer is crucial, because Canadian networks can still broadcast even if the game is in the US, so anyone with NHL Center Ice will still have an option to watch the game. This year, there
are only two games that are is only one game definitely affected by the blackout, but it is January 24 at home against Toronto so it will be televised in Canada and available on Center Ice. Additionally, a third game might be impacted (I can't tell from looking at the schedule whether the Versus game is exclusive that night or not), but that game is against Montreal and will be on Center Ice as well.
(After I posted this I went line-by-line through the Versus schedule and determined that only the 1/24 game is affected by a Versus blackout. The other two games that I thought were impacted are airing on nights when Versus is carrying games, but not on an exclusive basis.)
The good news? The only game impacted by a blackout is a home game, so every Canes road game will be eligible for broadcast. The question is whether Fox Sports Carolinas will broadcast those games, and we'll get the answer to that in a month or so when the FSC schedule comes out.
A couple of game-change times to accommodate rightsholders also came down the line with the schedule today: in addition to the two Versus games above that moved to 7:30, the October 14 game in Ottawa is moving to a 7:00 start (it was originally at 7:30), and the 7:00 start of the February 18 game against Philadelphia has been shifted to an 8:00 faceoff.
In case you were wondering, there are six teams with the maximum eleven appearances on Versus this season: Washington, Pittsburgh, Boston, Chicago, Detroit and the New York Rangers. Raise your hand if you're shocked...thought so. (Although I'm a little surprised Philadelphia isn't on that list.) At the other end of the spectrum, Edmonton, Florida and Ottawa receive no love from Versus with no nationally-televised games in the US for any of those teams. The two Canadian teams, of course, will be on regularly on Canadian television, and Florida has a few games on Canadian TV as well, but as you can see....it could be much, much worse.
Just ask last year's Canes.