NBCSN has announced their regular season schedule for airing regular season games. For the Tampa Bay Lightning, seven games in all have been scheduled to be nationally televised. The seven games are split between four away games and three home games. The scheduled games are as follows. All times are Eastern Time.
- Tuesday November 1st – Tampa Bay @ New York Islanders, 7:30pm
- Tuesday November 15th – Tampa Bay @ Detroit Red Wings, 7:30pm
- Wednesday November 23rd – Philadelphia Flyers @ Tampa Bay, 7:30pm
- Tuesday February 7th – Los Angeles Kings @ Tampa Bay, 8:00pm
- Friday February 10th – Tampa Bay @ Minnesota Wild, 8:00pm
- Monday March 27th – Chicago Blackhawks @ Tampa Bay, 7:30pm
- Friday April 7th – Tampa Bay @ Montreal Canadiens, 7:30pm
The Lightning have gotten a good variety of teams with seven different teams represented. They will face three Original Six teams in Detroit, Chicago, and Montreal. Three games are against Western Conference opponents. Two games are against Divisional opponents.
While many fans grate at the often times biased broadcasting, the national exposure is good for the team. Despite the team’s excellent play the past several seasons, many more casual fans of hockey are unaware of how good the Lightning are. It also increases the exposure of many of our players to national media members who vote on postseason awards.
There is still quite an inequity though in the number of appearances for the Lightning verses many other teams. Even in their press release, NBCSN boasts of having the Chicago Blackhawks leading the way with 21 appearances, followed by the Philadelphia Flyers with 20 and the New York Rangers and Boston Bruins with 16 appearances a piece, though my counting of the schedule came up with 17 for Boston and 15 for New York as well as 15 for the Pittsburgh Penguins. To be quite honest, only three of those five teams have any real aspirations of winning a Stanley Cup and for two teams their windows seem to be closing rapidly.
I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised since the NHL and NBCSN will always chase the money at the expense of building up their whole brand by promoting exciting, young teams that are expected to be relevant in the Stanley Cup playoffs for the next handful of years.
Now, NBCSN is up front that they are only focused on U.S. based teams and do promise that every U.S. team will have at least one appearance. Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, Vancouver, and Winnipeg have no appearances. Toronto only appears because they are playing in an outdoor game.
Arizona, Carolina, Columbus, Florida, and New Jersey are the U.S. teams that get exactly one game. Anaheim and Nashville have two games. Dallas has four games. Half of those teams were playoff teams last season, with two advancing past the first round. Actually it’s somewhat of a shame that Montreal has more appearances than any of these teams with five, even with NBCSN giving a strong preference to U.S. teams.
The New York Islanders with six and Tampa Bay with seven are next on the list. Both being playoff teams that advanced beyond the first round. They’re beaten out by such non-playoff teams as Buffalo (eight games), Colorado (nine games), and Minnesota (12 games). Oh, and don’t forget the Boston Bruins up there near the top with 17 games despite missing the playoffs two years in a row and Philadelphia who barely made it into the playoffs this past season.
I suppose I shouldn’t get too worked up over this. The trend of how the NHL promotes it’s brand has been obvious for a long time now. Established fan bases get serviced while the teams that need building up are left to languish and do their own work in trying to build themselves up. Even the good, young, exciting teams that are fun to watch and that have a roster set up to take a shot at winning multiple Stanley Cups.