NBC and the NBC Sports Network today announced the national broadcast schedule for the 2014-15 NHL season. That schedule sees the Minnesota Wild participating in 11 nationally broadcast games out of 103 games that NBC will air.
It’s a decent number of games and includes the Wild’s home opener against Colorado on October 9. It also features a couple of weird matches. In particular, the two matches against Boston on October 28 and December 17. I’m not entirely clear why that’s a national game. I’m especially unclear how Minnesota vs. Boston worked its way into the “Wednesday Night Rivalry” series, which, yes, is coming back in all its forced rivalry glory.
The majority of the naitonally broadcast Wild games will be against division rivals. NBCSN will broadcast one game against Colorado, three against Chicago, one against Dallas, one against Nashville, and one against St. Louis. Sorry Winnipeg.
Winnipeg will have a grand total of zero games broadcast, which seems like it must be an error. Right? Buffalo has 11 games being broadcast. Buffalo. The 21-51-10 Sabres. They get 11 games, while the rebuilt and exciting Dallas Stars get just four? What?
Other embarrassing numbers include Florida, Calgary, Vancouver, Ottawa, NY Islanders, and Edmonton being completely shutout; Arizona and Columbus getting one; Toronto, Montreal, and New Jersey getting two; and Carolina getting just three.
A reminder: Buffalo, the worst team in the NHL last season by over ten points, is being nationally broadcast 11 times. Toronto is a major hockey town, Montreal made it to the Eastern Conference Finals last season, Florida and the Islanders (like the Sabres) have an exciting young team full of players that you’ll want to see now before they’re stars in a couple years; and Columbus is an exciting team on the rise. They all get fewer games thatn Buffalo.
Back to the Wild: The St. Louis game will be the April 11 match and is the only one of the Wild’s nationally broadcast games that has the possibility of being broadcast on NBC instead of NBCSN.
In general NBCSN will air games on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, as well as adding Sunday nights in January.
NBC will air some special events this year as well, broadcasting the 2015 Winter Classic between the Chicago Blackhawks and Washington Capitals on January 1, 2015 and the 2015 All-Star Weekend, with the skills competition happening on January 24 and the 60th All-Star Game on January 25.
The press release indicates that the Bruins, Flyers, Capitals, Kings, and Sharks make the most appearances with 12 games each. However, I’m counting very different numbers. I’ve got Chicago playing 20 games, Pittsburgh has 19, Boston has 17, Philadelphia has 16, the NY Rangers have 14, and Washington, Los Angeles, and San Jose have 13 each.
The Bruins vs. Red Wings, Blackhawks vs. Blues, Kings vs. Sharks, and Penguins vs. Flyers will all have four matches broadcast against each other.
Legendary play-by-play guru Mike “Doc” Emrick will man the play-by-play with Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire returning as well.
Oh, and this article from Hockey Wilderness about how NBC is getting the NHL wrong despite impressive viewership numbers is worth a read.
Full Wild National Broadcast Schedule (all times CT):
Oct. 9 — vs. Colorado, 8pm
Oct. 28 — at Boston, 6pm
Dec. 17 — vs. Boston, 7pm
Jan. 6 — vs. Sharks, 7pm
Jan. 11 — at Chicago, 7pm
Jan. 13 — at Pittsburgh, 6pm
Feb. 3 — vs. Chicago, 7pm
Feb. 22 — vs. Dallas, 7pm
Feb. 26 — at Nashville, 7:30pm
Apr. 7 — at Chicago, 7:30pm
Apr. 11 — at St. Louis, 2pm/6:30pm*
* from Wild.com: “Currently scheduled for 6:30 p.m. CT on NBCSN, with the possibility to be changed to NBC as part of a flex schedule, where the game-time would change to 2 p.m. CT.”