The countdown is on for the return – and maybe reincarnation – of hockey. The revenue-hungry NHL now has a salary cap, which augurs long overdue financial sanity. On the entertainment front, where hockey must compete with more entrenched sports and other diversions for the consumer’s dollar, the NHL has introduced dramatic shootouts to decide ties and rule changes to speed up the game. The latter is intended to keep its top stars unshackled and showcased for the media.
So why in the name of Marty St. Louis and the defending Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning did the NHL and NBC agree to a national TV schedule that only shows the Bolts once?
The Lightning, with its up-tempo style and talented, telegenic trio of St. Louis, Vinny Lacavalier and Brad Richards, would seemingly be a perfect fit for the new-look NHL. Instead, the Bolts get a lone TV appearance – at Philadelphia on Jan. 28 – while Philly, Detroit, Dallas, Colorado and New York (Rangers) appear four times apiece. Boston and Pittsburgh will be on three times each.
This is smart marketing? This is thinking outside the rink?