How could ESPN be any worse for the NHL than NBC? Tell me. Honestly.

Is there any doubt remaining that the NHL needs NBC like a shotgun blast to the head?

The latest in a murderer’s row of terrible PR moves comes with NBC deciding to cockblock the Penguins’ savvy and fan-friendly tradition of allowing people to watch games on a Big Screen outside of Mellon Arena. It was a bottom line-based decision, as the marginal loss in ratings would be too much for the soul-less suits at NBC to stomach.

But in such a marginal ratings grab, couldn’t NBC impress advertisers by showing how much of an “event” their telecasts can be? At this point, it is pretty obvious that hockey games are a largely regional affair. Is a fraction of a decimal point really worth it for NBC, when they can show advertisers that they have an engaged audience?

Or is this just a case of “any press being good press?” Does the constant insulting of the NHL – from moving a heated OT playoff game off the network for a horse race preview show to showing no hint of consistency to slapping hockey fans in the face at every turn – not tell you everything you need to know about this “partnership?”

Hockey fans are the ground beneath the feet of out of touch executives. For every good move – putting the incomparable “Razor” Reaugh on national telecasts – there’s a counter-move of imbecility.

People bash the idea of ESPN covering hockey, but the four-letter network would bring plenty more to the table than NBC. At this point, ESPN’s in a ton of households and would do a much better job of raising awareness for their NHL games (as Puck Daddy and others have stated, the network is a self-promoting brand obsessed whore at this point). You have to be a hardcore hockey fan to be able to follow NBC’s on-again off-again regular season schedule. Honestly, even I was surprised that the network was carrying the Washington-New York Rangers game this afternoon.

You get the feeling that Bucci cares more about hockey than everyone at NBC combined.

Yes, it’s clear that hockey isn’t a ratings force to be reckoned with, but it’s also clear that the league is making baby steps to regain traction with American audiences. If the league isn’t happy with just being a big fish in a little sea, then why not at least stick with a big unfeeling corporate entity that knows how to market the product?

I’d rather have the league give up its shitty, joke of a national TV partner in NBC for the corporate, sports culture dominating behemoth in ESPN. Even if it means going from network TV to cable.

Could ESPN be any worse than NBC?

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