A week ago the NHL issued a press release stating the start dates of the upcoming Stanley Cup finals.
If both Conference Final series have been decided by Tuesday, May 26, the Western Conference winner would host Game 1 of the 2009 Stanley Cup Final on Thursday, May 28. Otherwise, Game 1 will be played on Friday, June 5.
There was a fair bit of backlash to that press release with people saying how stupid it would be if the conference finals finished last night with Detroit winning in 5 games and then the league taking 8 days off before starting the final. Over the past couple of days with that outcome seeming more likely rumours came about that maybe the playoffs would start this Saturday. Yesterday those rumours came true as the NHL released the schedule for the Stanley Cup finals.
Saturday, May 30 at Detroit, 8:00 pm NBC, CBC, RDS
Sunday, May 31 at Detroit, TBD-Night NBC, CBC, RDS
Tuesday, June 2 at Pittsburgh, 8:00 pm VERSUS, CBC, RDS
Thursday, June 4 at Pittsburgh, 8:00 pm VERSUS, CBC, RDS
* Saturday, June 6 at Detroit, 8:00 pm NBC, CBC, RDS
* Tuesday, June 9 at Pittsburgh, 8:00 pm NBC, CBC, RDS
* Friday, June 12 at Detroit, 8:00 pm NBC, CBC, RDS
So the new schedule has Detroit and Pittsburgh playing 4 games in 6 nights and then taking another 8 nights to play the final 3 games, if necessary? That’s absurd. The heavily inured Detroit Red Wings must be furious right now with such a front heavy schedule. But, I guess, whatever NBC wants, never mind the fact that they aren’t paying a penny for broadcasting rights (just profit sharing if there is any profit).
In other news, in 12 seasons in Phoenix, it is reported that the Coyotes have never turned a profit. After 12 seasons in Phoenix, the Phoenix Coyotes Booster Club has a grand total of 57 members. A couple of weeks ago they had a save the Coyotes in which just 500 fans showed up. In Nashville a couple of years ago they had 7500 people show up at the rally and reportedly sold close to 800 seasons tickets. The save the Jets rally in Winnipeg before the Jets moved to Phoenix had over 35,000 people show up.
In other news, for some odd reason the NHL is holding their awards ceremony in Las Vegas this year. I can only assume to draw some attention to the NHL in a potential future expansion city but it seems that the event might not come close to selling out.
Is it just me or does anyone else think that it is time that the NHL take some pride in itself and its product and not make itself look like a spoiled child desperate for attention. I understand the desire to grow the brand and I am for that, but at some point you have to say enough is enough. I can accept a little juggling around of the schedule to accommodate TV, but not when it affects the on ice product and not when it makes the league look desperate for attention. Four games in six nights followed by 3 in eight is just plain ridiculous and it reflects poorly on the NHL. I wish the NHL had enough pride in itself and its product that they wouldn’t make such concessions. Would MLB ever announce a preliminary schedule for the World Series that could possible mean a week or more layoff between games? Not a chance.
I am all for working hard to preserve franchises in their current cities, but not if those cities prove that after 12 seasons the majority of people don’t care one iota about the team. Sometimes teams fail and teams have to move on. I just wish the NHL had enough pride in their product that they can feel OK with saying, if you don’t want our product, so be it, we’ll go somewhere that does. MLB, NFL and the NBA don’t seem to have a problem with that, why does the NHL?
In the grand scheme of things, Phoenix is near irrelevant and Las Vegas hardly matters at all. Sure, it would be nice to have solid fan interest in the NHL in those locations, but it isn’t there, and may never be there. And you know what, that is just fine. There are enough people in New York, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit, and other well supported hockey markets that the NHL can be a highly successful and popular professional sports league. It is time that the NHL stands up and takes pride in what they are and act like a professional sports league which is confident and competent rather than league desperate for attention and acceptance and willing to do almost anything for that attention and acceptance. Desperation won’t gain you any respect from anyone.