NBC did not schedule the New York Islanders to appear on either NBC or NBCSN during the 2014-15 season. Many are surprised and speculative. Unfortunately, this isn’t a new reaction.
The Flyers, Bruins, Capitals, Kings, and Sharks will make a minimum of 12 appearances on NBCSN, with 4 more games possible on NBC in a “flex” scenario. While there is significant overlap with these Top-5 teams playing each other in several of these games, the selection of these teams is not exactly astrophysics.
The Chicago Blackhawks lead the way with 20 nationally televised games. They’ve won two of the last five Stanley Cups, made news with the bank vaults used to extend Toews and Kane, and currently seem like the most visible American NHL franchise. Oh, right, they’re in the Winter Classic. Again.
The Flyers are owned by Ed Snyder, chairman of Comcast which bought NBC Universal.
The Capitals spent all the money this summer, have Alex Ovechkin, and easily the most media-savvy owner in the league.
The Kings are the 2-time (full season) reigning Stanley Cup winners and play in the second-largest media market in the US.
The Bruins are a powerhouse team with both a Cup and Final appearance within the last 5 years, and are chaired by one of the most influential owners in hockey.
The Sharks play in Northern California and are division rivals of the Kings.
The Buffalo Sabres will appear on televisions in Utah 11 times this season. Eleven. Where is my fainting couch?
The lineup is rife with teams who have had both regular-season and post-season successes, yet the higher rationale has the same integrity as some angles on Monday Night RAW. Power players, power payers, media tycoons, and two jobbers…it’ll be great TV.
But the Islanders cannot get a squash match from NBC this coming year. Over the last five seasons the Islanders have been shown on an NBC owned/affiliated network 11 times. Twice a year for 5 years. These games are against Pittsburgh (4), Boston (2), Washington (2), Philadelphia (2), and the Rangers (1).
This is below the “Jobber” status currently bestowed upon the San Jose Sharks. The Islanders can’t get into Juggalo Championship Wrestling let alone NXT. This year the Arizona Coyotes get one
match game against Chicago. And they may be playing in Seattle in 5 years.
Whatever the reason, it is alarming. The Islanders have a bumper crop of top young players (Nelson, Strome, Hamonic) anchored by John Tavares and Kyle Okposo. One is a Canadian Olympian while the other is the second-highest scoring American player over the last two years. Yet nothing.
Does the NHL not want to show Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum to the world? Probably, seeing it’s a concrete blob in the suburbs. Is there pressure from the Rangers? Doubtful, considering that an all-New York rivalry night game would be a positive for both fanbase and ratings. Gary Bettman is mad at his childhood team? C’mon. Does keeping the Islanders off TV connect to Jim Morrison’s whereabouts, the Loch Ness Monster, The Stonecutters, and why Steve Guttenberg is a star? Actually, those aren’t too far off from what most people imagine and expect.
Or, maybe the League wants to dangle national television exposure as the carrot that gets the team back in showcase form. God forbid the team be showcased during a period of troubling sale news.
The Islanders have the ability to be the team no one saw yet beat everyone on the way out of a history-filled barn into a shiny new penthouse. If the team plays for themselves and their fans, other will notice.
If the league doesn’t like it, screw ’em.