This is one of the biggest fails I can remember in a very long time.
The National Hockey League playoffs are just a few short hours away and as someone who covers the sport I can tell you it's been a long time since I've been this excited for an NHL postseason. Coming into the 2017-2018 National Hockey League regular season if you had told me that things would shape out this way towards the end of the season I would have laughed you out of the building.
The Ottawa Senators who were Eastern Conference finalists just one year ago failed to even make the playoffs this time around, meanwhile the Colorado Avalanche, a team that was laughing stock of the National Hockey League last season, have rallied late to make an incredible run into the playoffs off the back of star forward Nathan MacKinnon.
On top of that we will see the renewal of several old rivalries including the Pittsburgh Penguins vs the Philadelphia Flyers, a "grudge match" type of series between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins after a stunning 7 games series in 2013, and potentially the making of a brand new rivalry thanks to a stunning playoff appearance from the expansion Las Vegas Golden Knights who will face off against the Los Angeles Kings.
Teams like the Winnipeg Jets and Tampa Bay Lightning will be expected to advance beyond the first round of the playoffs based on the strength they showed in the regular season, but a tough Minnesota Wild squad and a young and exciting New Jersey Devils roster will prove to be worthy challenges early on and will test both teams. That leaves the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks who will duke it out in a battle of two Californian hockey teams.
Considering we are head for such an exciting NHL playoff season you would assume that the games would be front and center for the NHL's broadcast partners, but the National Broadcasting Company(NBC) has made a stunning decision regarding their programming during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. TSN's Travis Yost is reporting that NBC has made the decision to broadcast two Game 4s during the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on the Golf Channel.
That's right, if you were hoping to catch the national game for Game 4 of two playoff series you will be flat out of luck. Yost has reported a list of what will be playing on NBC's networks instead of the NHL and immediately it raises some serious red flags. In fact some don't believe this is merely an accident.
NHLN: Six hours of NHL Tonight
NBC: Family Feud and local news
CNBC: Shark Tank re-runs
USA: Law and Order SVU/Suits re-runs
Yost believes that NBC is trying to send the NHL a message here, and ESPN's Greg Wyshynski believes that it is related to a controversial decision made by the NHL earlier this year. By not sending their players to the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, games that are broadcast by NBC, the league caused the ratings for the men's hockey tournament to suffer. Wyshynski sees this as retaliation from NBC and considering the games were moved to the Golf Channel of all things that certainly sounds plausible to me.
What a mess this will be if either game proves to the be the fourth and final game of a sweep.
Photo Credit: Keystone Press