The NHL is refusing to send its athletes to the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, because the league does not want to go dark for nearly three mid-winter weeks. But you know that by now.
What you probably are not aware of, however, is the NHL nevertheless will go dark across all NBC platforms between Feb. 7-26, during the Games. Last season, NBC and NBCSN combined to telecast 20 NHL games over the comparable period.
This is a network decision that several industry sources in touch with Slap Shots over the past two weeks interpret as nothing less than the league’s U.S. national television rights-holder giving a symbolic middle finger to Gary Bettman and the Board of Governors for withholding its players from one of NBC’s most important properties.
The gap between the above-cited dates did exist in the telecast schedule released by NBC in July. But it had been assumed the network would announce added games at a later date. That is certainly the premise under which the NHL was operating, as you learn in a moment.
But not so. NBC Sports Group VP of communications Chris McCloskey wrote in an email exchange that the agreement with the league allows the network to add games but that, “As of now, there are no changes.”
Beyond that, Slap Shots has been told a meeting was held within the past two weeks in which the network’s hockey-dedicated personnel were told NBC would not be televising NHL games during the Olympics.It is unclear when the network informed the NHL of its decision, but the league was not aware the original schedule had been cast in stone.
To wit: The Rangers originally had intended to retire Jean Ratelle’s No. 19 on Feb. 18 prior to an afternoon game against Philadelphia — which falls on the 50th anniversary date of the club’s first game at the current Garden that, not at all coincidentally, was played against Philadelphia.
But the Blueshirts wanted the Ratelle ceremony to be featured on an MSG-TV game. In checking with the league, the Rangers were waved off the Feb. 18 date and told that NBC would pick up the game even though it had not yet been announced. This, we are told, occurred in more than one conversation.
Thus, the Rangers moved Ratelle Night to Feb. 25 against the Red Wings. But now there is no national television game scheduled for Feb. 18. No national television games at all across the U.S. for 18 days during the guts of the season.
The NHL will be going dark after all.
Del Mecum/CSM/REX/Shutterstock Here’s what happens. The NHL, for reasons unknown across the league and perhaps even within the league’s headquarters in New York and Toronto as well, decides not to enforce certain rules. Say, like slashing and faceoff requirements.
(Psst: the NHL doesn’t call interference much anymore, either, in case you haven’t noticed.)
Then, in an about-face, the league decides to crack down and snaps back in absurd fashion, confusing just about everyone.
The complaint here is not that the league is now dedicated to calling slashing penalties, but that the league ignored such infractions for years, and for no apparent reason.
The further complaint is that, through the first three or four days of exhibition matches, penalties were called on plays that had no resemblance to slashing.
And maybe more than a day’s notice was required on the crackdown enforcement of faceoff violations that for years routinely had been ignored, and thus tacitly approved, by the NHL officiating department.
We know Bettman views the Olympics as nothing more than another bargaining chip to be played against the NHLPA.
Regardless, given escalating rhetoric and political tensions in that region, perhaps the commissioner unwittingly did the players a favor: Would the league’s best players really relish the prospect of spending three weeks in South Korea this winter?
“I’ve thought of that. It has crossed my mind,” said Henrik Lundqvist, who has won both Gold and Silver in wearing the Tre Kronor at three Olympiads. “But you forget about that fast in relationship to the excitement and honor of playing for your country.
“You’re concerned, for sure, but like I said, that goes away. I remember how last time in Sochi [in 2010], there was a lot of talk about the security of the athletes and whether we should go. But not only were there no issues, it was a great event for the athletes and our families.
“Anyway,” Lundqvist said, “it’s not like we have a decision to make this time.”
Type in “J-a-r” in the Hockey-Reference.com search box and just two names appear: Jaromir Jagr and Jarome Iginla.
And though the unsigned 45-year-old Jagr apparently will make his intentions known for 2017-18 on Oct. 5, there is no such plan for Iginla, the 40-year-old winger with 1,300 career points (625-675) in 1,554 games, who also is without a contract following a 2016-17 in which he posted 27 points (14-13) for the Avalanche and Kings.
“Jarome is continuing to train for this season,” lginla’s long-time representative, Don Meehan, said via email. “Given his career to date and the independence he has the luxury of having at this point in time, we would look to finding an ideal opportunity for him.”
Finally, we’re as big on romance and the old barn as anyone, but the truth is, there is as much chance of the Islanders returning to the Coliseum as there is of the Mets returning to the Polo Grounds.
Source : http://nypost.com/2017/09/23/nhls-decision-to-skip-olympics-leads-to-tv-embarrassment/