It’s NBC Schedule Day - also known as The Internet Complains About How Many Times The Blackhawks and Penguins Are on National TV Day. The good news is that the Lightning and the Tampa area should be getting plenty of national exposure. The bad news is that they are all on NBCSN, so check your cable provider to make sure you receive that channel. In all, Tampa will appear six times nationally.
NBC is touting this schedule as their “most diverse schedule ever.” In other words, when teams you normally don’t see are playing the Blackhawks, Capitals or Red Wings, NBC is going to show the game. It is interesting that the only player names mentioned in the press release are Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews. It appears that NBC is laying the groundwork for those two to be the new faces of the league. That being said, be ready to see plenty of Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin as usual.
Starting on January 14th, NBC will broadcast the Game of the Week every Sunday afternoon. The Lightning didn’t make the cut for those games, nor did any west coast teams as they all feature some combination of the Rangers, Penguins, Flyers, Capitals, Bruins and Maple Leafs.
The Lightning are included in NBC’s exclusive Wednesday Night Rivalry Series as their November 29th tilt against Boston will be shown at 7:30pm on NBCSN. This series, which in the past has been lambasted for made-up rivalries, isn’t that bad this year. The only game which can’t be justified as some sort of rivalry would be the Buffalo/Columbus game on October 25th. [HUGE rivalry, gotta get out the game flags. - Acha]
Tampa will also show up on NBCSN’s other recurring series - Wednesday Nightcap - which showcases the west coast teams. The Lightning’s visit to the Shark Tank in San Jose on November 9th will air at 10:30pm.
The Lightning and the Tampa area should also see a big push at the end of January when Doc, Eddie, Pierre and the rest of the crew invade the area for All Star Weekend on January 27th and 28th. Expect lots of pirate-themed lead-ins (Pierre in an eye-patch!) as the game coincides with Gasparilla. Perhaps they will have Doc will lend his play-by-play skills to the making of a Cuban sandwich.
Other big-tent events that they will televise include:
- Pittsburgh’s banner raising night on October 4th
- Detroit’s first game at Little Caeser’s Arena on October 5th
- Vegas’ first game at T-Mobile Arena on October 10th.
- The Winter Classic between the Rangers and Sabres on January 1st
- NHL Stadium Series between Toronto and Washington on March 3rd at the U.S. Naval Academy (possible presidential sighting at a hockey game?)
NBC boasts that “every US team will appear on NBC or NBCSN in the regular season.” While that is a major accomplishment for the only network that holds the rights for the NHL, it is worded to imply that certain Canadian teams won’t appear. A quick look at the schedule confirms that neither Calgary (sorry Mike Smith fans) or Vancouver (probably a good thing) made the cut for the national broadcasts.
Leading the way in number of appearances are, of course, the Blackhawks with 17. They are followed by the Penguins and Flyers (really?) with 16 and the Caps, Red Wings, and Bruins will be shown 15 times each. The drawing power of the best player in hockey, Connor McDavid, did manage to force NBC to broadcast three Oiler games nationally and the same goes for Austin Matthews and his merry band of Maple Leafs.
All of Tampa’s national broadcasts:
- October 17th - Tampa Bay at New Jersey
- November 8th - Tampa Bay at San Jose
- November 22nd - Chicago at Tampa Bay
- November 29 - Tampa Bay at Boston
- December 12 - Tampa Bay at St. Louis
- January 22nd - Tampa Bay at Chicago
Overall, it is a little weird that all of the Lightning’s games are before the All-Star break and that only one of them is a home game. It would have been nice to see them broadcast the December 29th game against Montreal, otherwise known as Jonathan Drouin’s first game in Tampa since the trade. Surely that would make for more interesting commentary than a Nashville/Minnesota match.
Still, six games nationally (with the possibility of more if they are selected for a couple of the “TBD” games at the end of the season) isn’t bad for a smaller market team.
Follow this link for the full press release.