National Hockey League fans finally got some good news last Sunday morning, when the league and its players announced an agreement was reached on the framework for a new collective bargaining agreement. It ended 113 days of an acrimonious lockout that threatened to shut down the season for the second time in eight years.
I watched the fans’ bitterness on Twitter. Many of them wrote that they are not coming back to support the league this season.
That’s certainly not good news for the league, which is expected to start its 48-game regular-season schedule next Saturday.
I spoke with NBC Sports NHL analyst Pierre McGuire on Thursday about the lockout, and I asked him if there were any winners.
“Nobody wins,” said McGuire, who worked Friday’s Union-Princeton ECAC Hockey game on NBC Sports Network. “At the end of the day, the only guys who win are the lawyers who are doing billable hours. This is a real shot for everybody to take. There’s going to be some serious heavy lifting to get the game back on track.
“I guess if you want to say who wins, the players and owners [won] because the game is back. But substantial damage was done. Now, you’ve got to get back to repairing the damage that was done.”
The NHL may have a tougher time winning fans this time around. After the 2004-05 season-cancelling lockout, the league made some rule changes for the 2005-06 season, including making two-line passes legal and eliminating the clutching and grabbing, to open up the game. Also, high-scoring forwards Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins) and Alexander Ovechkin (Washington Capitals) made their NHL debuts in 2005-06, creating a great rivalry.
The fact that the NHL didn’t lose the entire 2012-13 season will be enough to win the fans back.
“The game’s being played right, right now, which is good,” McGuire said. “The fans aren’t going to miss an entire year. The Stanley Cup will be presented in 2013, which is positive. One of the things we have now that we haven’t had in a long time [is] if you start with the 2003 entry draft and go to where we are now, every single draft has created unbelievable young stars. You didn’t have that for good portions from 1992 to 2003. We had some real bad drafts, and we had some drafts where no stars were created at all.”
nhl network loses
One of the biggest losers during the lockout was NHL Network.
It failed miserably in keeping fans informed during the lockout. There were no live shots of the press conferences when talks broke down in late November, and it wasn’t there last Sunday morning when the announcement of deal being reached.
During the lockout, hockey fans were treated to endless reruns of last spring’s Stanley Cup games, numerous historical programs (memo to NHL Network: time for a new set of “Pioneers” shows).
We did see some live hockey, thanks to the World Junior Championships and Canadian junior games.
But the NHL Network’s reputation, just like the NHL, was damaged by its lack of lockout coverage. If the NHL wants NHL Network to be taken seriously, it needs to invest money and have a news department.
When the players approve the new labor deal today, the 48-game regular-season schedule will be announced. The national TV schedules will also be released.
Check my Parting Schotts blog for updates on the TV schedules.
u FOX Sports Radio 980 (WOFX) had two announcements this week. It will broadcast the NCAA men’s basketball tournament from Dial Global, as well as the final three rounds of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.
Also, WOFX will start airing an NBC Sports Radio show. “The Dan Schwartzman Show” will air from 1 to 5 a.m. starting Monday. It replaces FOX Sports Radio’s “The JT ‘The Brick’ Show.”
u The New York Mets will be on WIZR-AM (930) and WIZR-FM (96.5) this season. The station had been carrying the Boston Red Sox.
nfl playoff schedules
It’s the NFL divisional-round weekend. And, for the final time this season, here are the games that will be on TV this weekend. Announcers, in order of play-by-play announcer, analyst and sideline reporter, are in parentheses:
CBS6 (WRGB) and CBS6 HD — AFC Divisional: Baltimore at Denver, 4:30 p.m. (Greg Gumbel/Dan Dierdorf).
FOX23 (WXXA) and FOX23 HD — NFC Divisional: Green Bay at San Francisco, 8 p.m. (Joe Buck/Troy Aikman/Pam Oliver and Erin Andrews).
FOX23 and FOX23 HD — NFC Divisional: Seattle at Atlanta, 1 p.m. (Thom Brennaman/Brian Billick/Laura Okmin and Chris Myers).
CBS6 (WRGB) and CBS6 HD — AFC Wild Card: Houston at New England, 4:30 p.m. (Jim Nantz/Phil Simms).
super bowl plans
CBS Sports announced plans for its Super Bowl XLVII Tuesday.
Pregame coverage of the Feb. 3 game from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans begins at 11 a.m. (yes, 11 a.m.) with “Road to the Super Bowl.” At noon, it will be “New Orleans: Let the Good Times Roll.” That will be followed at 1 p.m. by “Phil Simms’ All-Iron Team: Super Bowl Edition.” At 2 p.m., it will be “The Super Bowl Today.”
CBS Sports Network will also get in on the act. CBSSN will have more than 50 hours of original programming, including first-time ever extended post-game coverage with “Super Bowl Live: Postgame Show.”
On the tech side, CBS Sports will use six “Heyeper Zoom” high-frame rate, 4K replay and zoom camera systems. The “Heyeper Zoom” replay system can capture video at a frame rate between 300-500 frames per second (normal is 60 fps).
CBS Sports will have the ability to take up to six unique camera views and play them back simultaneously in-sync in either a quad-split, a three-way split or a two-way split, depending on the context of the play.