Going mainstream


The Rangers against the Bruins will be one of three games covered by NBC in the network’s first outing of the season on Saturday. There was a conference call yesterday that I unfortunately missed because I was jotting down assorted musings from the likes of Jagr, Shanahan, and others. But it seems that the network is hoping it has found a lightning rod in the outspoken Brett Hull, who will debut this week as a studio analyst.


I’ll throw in some Hull quotes below, but in the meantime, here’s hoping NBC gains some sort of traction this year. I think anyone who frequents this site regularly — myself included — loves hockey too much to see it marginalized the way it’s been of late. The game needs a network presence in the U.S., even if it’s only occasionally. And the only way the networks are going to stick with the game is if they can draw ratings at least higher than an infomercial on self-tanning spray.

“I am Brett Hull. I started to hear rumblings about that when I signed on. I just thought back to when I was a young kid and I was always Bobby Hull’s son. I looked at myself one day and said ‘you know what, you’re never going to be Bobby Hull. No one will ever be Bobby Hull. And if you don’t figure out who Brett Hull is and develop your own game and your own style and your own personality, you’re not going to make it anywhere.’ That’s the way I decided to look at this and as much as I love Charles and I’ve known him a long time, I don’t know if we’re the exact same personality. Although we’re of the same vein of saying how we feel. I’m going to be me and when there’s something to be said, it’s going to be said. Whether someone’s going to be upset about it or someone’s going to feel real good about it.”

“I think we need more of it. You don’t have to be a jerk about it but if you’ve got a feeling and you feel that there’s an injustice in the game that you’re playing that you love, say it and there shouldn’t be any penalty for that.”

More from the morning skate in a bit….

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  1. Rumors – possible interest from Rangers: Brendan Morrison, Bill Guerin, Josef Stumpel, Martin Rucinsky, Keith Tkachuk.

  2. I think it would be rough for St. Louis to part with Bill Guerin. Now that I’ve said that, it will probably happen.

  3. only question i have today is if weekes is playing tonight and if so do the rangers offer weekes night refunds?

  4. The biggest problem NHL/NBC has is WHEN they play the games. Saturday afternoon? Who the hell is watching TV at 2 or 3 in the afternoon when the weather gets better in April? The height of the playoff run, and games are on in the middle of a nice day? They should fill the void of Monday Night Football.

  5. The NHL needs to work on getting more HDTV games into the Center Ice package. I find myself watching a lot of random NHL games on HDNet just because they look so good, and I’d easily pay $300+ a season to watch all of the Rangers games broadcast at that level of quality.

  6. i agree hdtv will be huge for the nhl. the game just looks so much better the way it should be shown.

  7. “I think anyone who frequents this site regularly—myself included—loves hockey too much to see it marginalized the way it’s been of late. The game needs a network presence in the U.S., even if it’s only occasionally. And the only way the networks are going to stick with the game is if they can draw ratings at least higher than an infomercial on self-tanning spray.”

    Sam, in view of what you’ve written (above) I have to comment (even though it’s not specifically a Rangers-driven one).

    What you’re describing there is a symptom of a larger problem, specifically that as to “the business of sports” the NHL in 2007 remains in the Dark Ages.

    Go back more than fifty years – the National Football League, led by Bert Bell, the first of a number of forward-thinkers who headed it embarked on an enlightened television policy, one that recognized that although the teams were bitter on-field rivals, they were also partners away from it.

    Because of what Bell did (and what his successors added through the years), even a market that the NHL wouldn’t consider (Green Bay) not only survived but continues to thrive. Contrast Green Bay with the much-larger markets represented by Hartford, Kansas City and Pittsburgh (and ones that are comparable such as Winnepeg and Quebec City).

    There’s been in the NFL a continuity from Bell through Goodell and although there is reasonable criticism that could be levled at such as Rozelle and Tagliabue, the fact remains that the attitude/and approach, the leadership that Bell personified, continues.

    Even baseball, which hardly could be called visionary in the “Bell sense” and the NBA recognize, at least to an extent, Bell’s attitudes and principles.

    Not so the National Hockey League where the attitude has been, from its beginnings in 1920 as “every man for himself.”

    The post World War II NHL has been personified by leadership such as the pliable Clarence Campbell (who described his job description as being “suitably ornamental”), to one Gary Bettman whose has proven to consistently be glitz rather than substance.

    Be it buzz words and phrases (“cost certainty” a glaring example), to crass commercialism (the playing surface festooned with ads and in less than optimum condition after the first period due to it not having proper time to refreeze after resurfacing because of on-ice promotions), to bonus points for failure distorting the objective regular season performance measurements (SOL/OTL), to next season’s form-fitting spandex outfits, Bettman has been 98% appearance and 2% substance (and that’s being generous).

    Yes, television’s representation of hockey is less than optimum (pun unintended) with regards to production and penetration.

    Television is one symptom, sadly there are numerous unaddressed problems.

    But the problems being experienced by the NHL are not going to be addressed until those who own it recognize the wisdom of those such as Bell.

    If it were up to me the first move would be dismissal of Bettman.

    The second would be to hire the best *available replacement*

    *I don’t know if he’d be available or amenable, but IMHO, that would be Bob Gutkowski.

  8. Jonathan Probber on

    I always get disappointed when people make a point of telling us they’ll “speak their mind;” go on to reveal they have no mind; and speak anyway.

    I’m not sure this describes Brett Hull, but it sure describes most athletes-turned-broadcasters I know.

  9. The first problem with network TV coverage is the time of day that they put these games on. Saturday afternoons is a terrible time, IMO. These games should be on prime time ala HNIC. Unfortunately for the NHL, prime time is too crowded and valuable for such an expiriment. So, they put these on during the day when most folks are (hopefully) out doing something.

    I agree about HDTV. Here in Hartford, I find myself watching the Bruins more when they’re on because my cable system carries NESN in HD. When MSG is on, they don’t provide it in HD. Not sure I would pay $300 for a HD Center Ice package, but it truly is a different game watching in HD.

    On the trade front, please, please, please no Rucinsky. If we’re going for nostalgia bring back Barnaby for cripes sake. Of all the names mentioned the only one that interests me is Brewer, but I’m sure the price would include Prucha and I’d rather see if one of the Hartford kids can do the job at D than give up Prucha at this point. However, I remember Slats using Mike York’s “durability” as an issue when he shipped him off, I can imagine the same things being said about Prucha if they trade him. Also, they have Ryan Russell in the system who’s been described as a Prucha clone who fights so they probably feel that Petr is expendable.

  10. That’s nice of Brett Hull to think that players should speak their mind if they have an opinion, but it’s absurd. If they mouth an opinion that’s negative they get fined or punished by the League.

    cwgatti, right on. Like anyone who only has a middling interest in hockey is going to stop their Saturday in its tracks to watch a game, most often between struggling teams. And, unfortunately perhaps, hockey just isn’t made for TV. I love it, sure, but how many times have I taken a friend who doesn’t follow the game to an arena and had them say “wow, this is awesome live, but i have no idea what’s going on when i try to watch on TV.” Even a golf ball is easier to track on TV for people who are unfamiliar with the sport.

    And, wow, the NHL has done a terrible job promoting its personalities. They’ve done a couple decent ads recently featuring Ovechkin and a few others, but the only place I’ve seen them has been on youtube…

  11. i think it has to be Weekes only because it’s a good spot to get him in….afternoon game on saturday…long time off afterwards….Kev will be in….in this case then, i’d like one of those refunds that Kovy mentions, as i will be at the game tonight….i don’t even need the full refund!…i would be VERY happy with an exchange!


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