Ratings for the NHL in the US have been stagnant to say the least. Actually that’s probably being kind. If they were a TV Show they would have been cancelled years ago. A lot of that has to do with Commissioner Gary Bettman choosing burying his product on NBC for a pittance instead of letting ESPN take it for nothing and promote the Hell out of it. Why would you want the largest sports network carrying your product and constantly talking about it? Insane thinking there!
The standard excuse is “Americans don’t like hockey” or “They don’t understand it.” Ever see a league blame their product for why no one watches? The NHL hasn’t come out and said that officially, but that narrative has been around so long they clearly don’t care that it’s become the norm because they never refute it.
While NBC isn’t enthusiastic about their coverage, they still have quite a few channels to put the product on. It’s also not like it’s some no name, backwater network, it’s one of the top networks. So why doesn’t anyone watch?
For starters the announcers are atrocious. Mike Milbury is probably the worst GM the NHL has ever had, and that’s saying something. When he was running the New York Islanders he made atrocious moves and proved he had zero clue on evaluating talent. He’s been doing NBC coverage for almost a decade now…think about that.
That would be like Matt Millen being on every pregame, halftime, and postgame show for Fox or CBS. It’s insane. The guy is a complete idiot, and also thinks PK Subban showing his personality is bad for the game. REALLY?! This coming from a guy who once climbed into the crowd and beat a fan with their own shoe.
Let’s go to in-game coverage with Eddie Olczyk. The former Blackhawks player, current commentator, and former Penguins coach covers both teams regularly. Guess who never does anything wrong and is always cheated? Olczyk once went so far as to accuse the Detroit Red Wings of cheating over two decades by interfering with opposing teams.
This coming from a guy who works for a team whose fans are so insecure they still chant “Detroit sucks!” despite winning three Cups in a seven year span. If you’re an objective viewer, or even a new one, and hear a supposed objective announcer accuse one team of cheating for decades, are you thinking this guy knows anything? Talk about a shill.
The lost goes on with former players who cycle in and out like a revolving door of idiots. I swear half of them just say outlandish crap just to get publicity aka the Skip Bayless School of “Broadcasting.” The other half are just boring and regurgitate general statements like they’re still playing.
If the NHL on NBC was a company it would be bankrupt by now for the mere fact they operate on the definition of insanity. Year after year, season after season, they continue to do the same coverage, with the same imbeciles, and can’t figure out why ratings don’t get better.
So I implore Canadian fans to not mock us Americans who follow the games. We’d love to have the amount of coverage, and depth. Sadly, we’re stuck with the worst GM in league history and one of the worst homer announcers ever, let alone all the other idiots. It’s like your coverage of baseball, no one cares unless your team is really good.