NBC's decision is par for the course
NBC had a choice for this weekend. It could've shown the Stanley Cup playoffs featuring Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby against Washington's Alex Ovechkin. Or it could pick golf's Players Championship featuring Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. NBC chose golf. The network won't air any hockey games this weekend.
"From a league standpoint, it's a joke,'' Canadian television hockey analyst and former player Ray Ferraro said on the Jim Rome radio show. "To have the game's greatest, most marketable stars playing head to head in a series that everybody is talking about that follows the game -- heck, ESPN led their sports coverage with Ovechkin and Crosby. That's not even an ESPN property. And we can't get the game on NBC, which … is our national carrier? … It's clear which tail is wagging the dog here. NBC is making the decisions, and the league just has to go about it because they're not in a real strong position.''
Look, I'm a hockey guy, but who can blame NBC? The network isn't there to promote the NHL. It's a business, and it is going to show what's going to attract the most viewers. And that, in this situation, is golf. Meantime, the NHL Players Association has had conversations, with the league’s permission, with ESPN. With all due respect to Versus, which does a steady job on its NHL broadcasts, the best way for the NHL to get back into the national consciousness is to get back on ESPN.