Finally there will be no complaints that someone couldn’t get the game, the NHL returns to mainstream American network television on Saturday, as NBC begins its coverage of the NHL for 2007.
Puck drop is 11 am precisely, no time for chit chat, just drop the puck and go. In an unusual experiment, NBC will air its pre-game show on broadband over the internet from 10:30 to 11, during the half hour of internet TV, on NHL on NBC Countdown to Faceoff, hockey fans can learn all about what Bill Clement, Ray Ferraro and Brett Hull have to offer providing their internet stream stays strong. it's available at NBCSports.com.
As for the hockey, there will be two games featured on Saturday, the national game featuring the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers and a secondary game which pits the LA Kings up against the St. Louis Blues. Depending on your cable or satellite situation you could get one or both.
The return of the NHL to NBC this year is a much welcome situation for the league, which has suffered some pretty tough questioning from fans over the less than desired deal signed with Versus, a lesser known and lesser viewed cable option to ESPN. By appearing on network television again, the NHL can at least try and get it’s product out to a wider audience.
NBC has expanded its regular-season NHL coverage from six weeks to nine weeks, the most regular-season NHL games on network television since 1998-99. After Saturday, the coverage will move to Sundays, which is actually a good thing for the NHL, as the NFL will be winding down and they can avoid the prospect of having to challenge college basketball for viewers.
The NBC pre game offering will be entertaining one would think as Brett Hull is considered one of the most outspoken characters in hockey, expect him to show no mercy with his comments and appeal to those who want the unsanitized inside scoop.
He tends to shoot from the lip, much like a certain Canadian TV icon known for his high collars and colourful suits. On some days, the internet show may end up being more entertaining than the actual on air product. Let’s hope that the You Tube nation has their video capture cards installed and ready to serve up a steady diet of Hulls thoughts.