Just when you didn’t think it was possible, the coverage on Versus gets even worse than it was for the first round of the playoffs. I know it’s not completely Versus’ fault that the national TV coverage of the NHL playoffs is so horrible. However, they’re the “NHL channel” as Romantically Challenged referred to it during Monday night’s episode. They are the home of the NHL playoffs, yet Versus is a channel that many in the country (even those who have cable, DirecTV, Dish, AT&T U-verse, or Verizon Fios) don’t have. Those who do are most likely paying extra for it as I am. The NHL Network is the same way, but at least it would offer those of us who are willing to pay more for our hockey (and other sports) the ability to see complete games. As a Penguins fan, I was worried that the Red Wings (clearly more of a national TV favorite than the Penguins, though the Penguins are definitely one of the teams in the current six-team league of national TV coverage Jim Fox and Bob Miller were discussing during a late season Kings away game) game would start being shown a bit after 4:30 and the rest of the Penguins game would be skipped. What Versus chose to do wasn’t any better, though it was for Penguins fans not living in Pittsburgh and Habs fans living in the US. Versus didn’t even switch games during the Penguins intermission, as I’d assumed they would do when I noticed the times and that Versus was supposedly showing both games. They showed very brief updates of the Red Wings/Sharks game and then went back to rehashing the Pens/Habs game.
When the Penguins game ended, thankfully in regulation or we would have missed even more of the Sharks/Red Wings game, Versus took a while, but switched over to the game that started a half hour later. The Red Wings lost their third game in a row in the first overtime, so fans of the Red Wings and Sharks who don’t have Center Ice or live in the San Jose or Detroit areas barely saw their teams.
In addition to their horrible coverage, Versus continued to call the game they were supposed to show the nation “bonus coverage” as they did with the Blackhawks/Predators and other games they would join in progress. Showing small portions of a game they’re supposed to be covering is not “bonus coverage” by my definition. Bonus coverage has always meant extra coverage. Outtakes, behind the scenes coverage, a music video… these are all bonus items one could find on a Blu-ray disc or DVD. If a Blu-ray disc said it had bonus coverage and instead took out 2/3 of the movie you had bought and added nothing extra, you’d demand your money back. Why do we have to put up with Versus? Some of us have no choice. Bettman got us into this mess and doesn’t seem at all interested in getting us out of it. He likes having a network with only one channel that many in the country don’t get as the main NHL channel for the United States. Where most sports prefer the channel that comes standard for anyone who has more than just the converter box to watch the TV that comes over the airwaves, Bettman is happy with a channel most people have to pay to get in addition to their regular cable, satellite, or fiber optic TV bill. Maybe one of these days, he’ll realize that hockey fans would like to see all the games in the playoffs – especially when it gets to the second round and give us an option other than Versus. I’m still very unclear why it’s not possible for the NHL Network to air one game and Versus to air the other. If the channel is not capable of airing both games in one night, they should allow another network to offer it to the fans.
Tags: Bob Miller, bonus coverage, Canadiens, DirecTV, Dish, Fios, Gary Bettman, Hockey, Jim Fox, NHL, NHL Network, Penguins, playoffs, Red Wings, Sharks, U-verse
The Los Angeles Kings have two of the top 10 scorers in the NHL this season. Anze Kopitar is 1st with 26 points (13-13) and Ryan Smith is 7th with 20 points (8-12). Like every team, the Kings have had some moments where they haven’t looked that great, but this season they’ve managed to come back from those more times than not and win the game. When the Kings were on the east coast, they had their only losing streak longer than 2 games and their only set of consecutive games without points this season. A lot of people don’t watch late night games the next day or stay up late regularly, so they miss the rest of the Kings games.
Beating the Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins might help the Kings. However, I have a feeling a lot of people will talk more about the fact that some of the Penguins’ key players (Malkin, Gonchar, Kennedy, Talbot) were missing from the Stanley Cup Champion team than they do about the fact that the Kings beat the Penguins. Of course, what those people will be missing is that the Penguins have been beating teams without some of those players. Until Colorado played last night, the Penguins were in first place in the NHL. Though the standings don’t matter much this early in the season, since they change so much between the first month and the end of the season, the Penguins had won80% of their games this season before playing the Kings. That’s an amazing percentage and the Kings beat them.
The Kings of the 08-09 season would not have won the game against the Penguins. Pittsburgh scored the only goal in the 2nd period of the game, though the Kings had outshot them 13-7. Last year’s team would have gone into the locker room dejected and come out ready to go home. The Penguins would have scored a few extra goals that no one would have been able to blame on Jon Quick. Instead, the Kings came out in the third period determined to win. They were not going to fold and let the Penguins walk away with a win (easy or otherwise). They showed their fans what they’re made of and extended their streak of games where they get at least one point to 8 (they’re 6-0-2 in their last 8 games).
They put on a good show for people like my dad who were excited to see the #1 scorer in the NHL for the only time they can this season. My dad has DirecTV, so he won’t get the Kings game on Versus Monday and he doesn’t have Center Ice. The only time he could see the Kings play this season was when his team (the Penguins) played them. This is why every team should play the rest of the teams in the league at least twice (once at home, once away). At least then everyone following any team in the NHL would be able to see Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Anze Kopitar, and all the other great NHL players at least once a year in person (if they’re not injured – we only saw Malkin in a suit this time, though the injured players were traveling with the team).
If the Kings keep on playing well on their road trip, they’ll start to get recognized as a good team that’s not just getting lucky. I guess we’ll see. The Kings begin a five game road trip in Chicago on Monday with their only nationally televised game of the season. Unfortunately, their only nationally televised game of the season is airing on Versus, so those with DirecTV who can’t find a bar willing to play a Blackhawks/Kings game when Monday Night Football is airing will not be able to see the Kings unless they’re playing their home team or have paid for NHL Center Ice. This is true of a lot of teams in the NHL. Though Bettman says he’s trying to expand interest in the NHL across the country, he doesn’t work to show different teams in national coverage. If you always show the teams with a huge fan base already (original 6 teams and other popular northeast teams), how will you improve your fan base? I understand that Sidney Crosby is the face of the NHL and I don’t argue that point. However, there are a lot of talented players out there and they’re not all on the teams in the northeast. Maybe someday the NHL will figure out a way to actually market the team, rather than just talking about it.
Tags: Alex Ovechkin, Anze Kopitar, Blackhawks, DirecTV, Evgeni Malkin, Gary Bettman, Hockey, Kings, marketing, Maxime Talbot, national TV, NHL, Penguins, Ryan Smyth, Sergei Gonchar, Sidney Crosby, Stanley Cup, Tyler Kennedy, Versus