NBC And NHL Plan To Air Every Game Of The Stanley Cup Playoffs, Starts Tonight!
The NHL playoffs kick off tonight and for the first time in its existence the race for the Stanley Cup will be broadcast in its entirety. And rightfully so since the gruelling two month post-season features some of the most intense, physical and exciting games, series and rivalries in all of sport. As part of the ten year partnership between the NHL and NBC that began last season, bringing all of the post-season to fans was a top priority and it all starts when the puck drops in Pittsburgh for great cross-state rivalry.
A post on NHL.com (a really thorough and great read on the partnership by Dave Lozo) stressed how the entire playoffs being broadcast nationally was the 'overarching message' emerging from a roundtable discussion between League Commissioner Gary Bettman and NBC Sports Group Chairman Mark Lazarus (as well as many underlings). The NBC Sports Group Chairman was happy when it came to the NHL's regular-season ratings and only expects viewership to improve during the postseason hence the network's unprecedented playoff hockey coverage. And for once, I find myself agreeing with Commissioner Bettman in that getting to fans (not just of hockey but also of sports in general) to start watching early in the post-season is key because "the craziness of the first round and the excitement of the first round" is intoxicating.
I know I'm biased, being Canadian, but the gruelling intensity of the Stanley Cup Playoffs is really unparalleled and NBC and the NHL are trying to allow the product to speak for itself by putting each and every one of the games on a national stage. They feel that if they can get people to take an interest in the first round, they won't be able to stop watching resulting in, as Lazarus says, "a cumulative effect of heightening the excitement as we move through the playoffs." And no better place to start that in Pittsburgh with the Penguins (and Sidney Crosby) taking on their heated rivals the Philadelphia Flyers. Puck drops at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Here's the entire schedule as is stands so far and, obviously, as more games are needed the TBDs will be determined. Go Ducks! Yeah, I know.
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