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The '''''NHL on NBC''''' is a presentation of National Hockey League (NHL) games that are produced by NBC Sports, and televised on NBC and NBCSN in the United States. While NBC has covered the league at various points in its history, the network's current relationship with the NHL is the result of NBC Sports acquiring the league's broadcast television rights from ABC in 2006. Its current contract with the league runs until 2021.
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Since 2008, NBC's regular season coverage includes the annual NHL Winter Classic, an outdoor game usually played on New Year's Day; one national weekly regular season game each Sunday afternoon after New Year's Day; one week of regionally televised contests in February for Hockey Weekend Across America; and one nationally televised game on the day after Thanksgiving. NBCSN's coverage includes 90 regular season games that are mostly aired on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings (the latter dubbed ''Wednesday Night Rivalry''), and later in the season on Sunday evenings. Coverage of the Stanley Cup Playoffs is split between NBC and NBCSN, with CNBC and the USA Network<sup>[2][3][4]</sup> (beginning in 2015) airing selected playoff games during the first two rounds. In 2015, NBC Deportes began to simulcast NHL on NBC broadcasts in Spanish through the '''''Hockey Telemundo''''' banner.
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== History ==
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=== February 25, 1940 and 1966 ===
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As part of a series of experimental broadcasts that W2XBS (now NBC's flagship station, WNBC) produced between 1939 and 1940, the station broadcast a game between the New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiensfrom Madison Square Garden on February 25, 1940. About 300 people in the New York City area saw the Rangers win, 6-2. Over the next few years, W2XBS (later WNBT) carried some New York Rangers home games on a local basis.
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Regularly scheduled American network broadcasts of NHL games would not begin until the late 1950s, when CBS began carrying regular season games, but no playoff matches. The deal was terminated in 1960, due to a combination of a dispute over the players receiving a share of the rights fee and the then-regional nature of the sport.
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Televised NHL games resumed for the 1965–66 NHL season, but this time on NBC; the regional issues were settled by the league's pending addition of six new teams, which expanded the league's reach nationwide and into lucrative markets in Pennsylvania and California (in addition to two other midwestern markets; NBC, however, would lose the broadcast rights before the six new teams would make it to play). In 1966, NBC became the first<sup>[5]</sup> television network in the United States to air a national broadcast of a Stanley Cup Playoff game. The network provided coverage of four Sunday afternoon playoff games<sup>[6][7]</sup> during the 1965–66 postseason.<sup>[8]</sup>On April 10<sup>[9]</sup> and April 17,<sup>[10]</sup> NBC aired semifinal games between the Chicago Black Hawks and the Detroit Red Wings. On April 24<sup>[11]</sup> and May 1,<sup>[12]</sup> NBC aired Games 1 and 4<sup>[13]</sup> of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Montreal Canadiens and the Detroit Red Wings. Win Elliot served as the play-by-play man while Bill Mazer served as the color commentator for the games.<sup>[14]</sup>
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NBC's coverage of the 1966 Stanley Cup Finals marked the first time that hockey games were broadcast on network television in color.<sup>[15]</sup> The CBC would follow suit the following year. NBC's Stanley Cup coverage preempted a sports anthology series called ''NBC Sports in Action'', hosted by Jim Simpson and Bill Cullen, who were between-periods co-hosts for the Stanley Cup broadcasts.
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NHL broadcast rights returned to CBS the next season, however due to other programming commitments, regular season games were handed off to RKO General.
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=== 1970s ===
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From 1972–73–1974–75, NBC not only televised the Stanley Cup Finals (including a couple of games in prime time<sup>[19]</sup>), but also weekly regular season games on Sunday afternoons. NBC also aired one regular season and a couple of playoff games in prime time during the first couple of seasons. Tim Ryan and Ted Lindsay (with Brian McFarlane as the intermission host) served as the commentators for NBC's NHL coverage during this period. Since most NHL teams still did not have players' names displayed on the backs of jerseys, NBC persuaded NHL commissioner Clarence Campbell to make teams put on players' names on NBC telecasts beginning with the 1973–74 season to help viewers identify them.
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NBC's NHL coverage during the 1970s was probably most notable for the introduction of Peter Puck. The animated character, whose cartoon adventures (produced by Hanna-Barbera) appeared on both ''NBC's Hockey Game of the Week'' and CBC's ''Hockey Night in Canada'', explained hockey rules to the home viewing audience.
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Besides Peter Puck, the 1970s version of ''The NHL on NBC'' had a between-periods feature titled ''Showdown''. The concept of ''Showdown'' involved 20 of the NHL's greatest players (16 shooters and four goaltenders) going head-to-head in a taped penalty shot competition. After the NHL left NBC in 1975, ''Showdown'' continued to be seen on ''Hockey Night in Canada'' and local television broadcasts of U.S.-based NHL teams.
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NBC's last regular season NHL game (until the start of the current league contract in 2006) occurred on April 6, 1975, with the Minnesota North Stars playing against the Chicago Black Hawks.<sup>[28]</sup>
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==== Schedules ====
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===== 1972–73 =====
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{| class="wikitable"
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|'''Date'''
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|'''Teams'''
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|-
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|December 29 (prime time game starting at 8:30 p.m. Eastern)
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|Boston at Minnesota
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|-
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|January 7
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|Boston at Chicago
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|-
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|January 13<sup>[29]</sup>
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|New York Rangers at St. Louis
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|-
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|January 21<sup>[30]</sup>
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|Minnesota at Detroit
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|-
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|January 28<sup>[31]</sup>
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|Detroit at Montreal
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|-
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|February 4<sup>[32]</sup>
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|Pittsburgh at Minnesota
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|-
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|February 11
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|Montreal at New York Rangers
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|-
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|February 18<sup>[33]</sup>
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|Montreal at Toronto
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|-
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|February 25
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|St. Louis at Detroit
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|-
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|March 4<sup>[34]</sup>
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|Chicago at Boston
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|-
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|March 11
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|Toronto at New York Rangers
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|-
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|March 16 (prime time game starting at 8:30 pm Eastern)
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|Boston at Detroit
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|-
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|March 18
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|Detroit at Chicago
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|-
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|March 25<sup>[35]</sup>
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|St. Louis at Philadelphia
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|}
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Note: The December 29 and March 16 games were on Friday nights; all other regular season games were on Sunday afternoons. All start times at 3:00 pm Eastern Standard Time unless noted.
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===== 1973–74 =====
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{| class="wikitable"
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|'''Date'''
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|'''Teams'''
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|-
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|January 4 (prime time game starting at 8:30 pm Eastern)
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|Boston at New York Rangers
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|-
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|January 19<sup>[36]</sup>
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|New York Rangers at Chicago
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|-
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|January 27
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|Philadelphia at Boston
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|-
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|February 3
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|Montreal at Detroit
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|-
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|February 10
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|Los Angeles at Atlanta
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|-
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|February 17
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|Philadelphia at Montreal
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|-
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|February 24
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|Boston at Buffalo
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|-
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|March 3
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|Chicago at Detroit
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|-
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|March 10
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|Philadelphia at Boston
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|-
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|March 17
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|New York Rangers at Boston
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|-
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|March 24
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|St. Louis at Philadelphia
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|-
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|March 31<sup>[37]</sup>
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|Toronto at New York Rangers
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|-
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|April 7<sup>[38]</sup>
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|Pittsburgh at Atlanta
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|-
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|April 14<sup>[39]</sup>
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|Montreal at New York Rangers
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|}
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: Note: The January 4 game was on a Friday night; all other regular season games were on Sunday afternoons. All start times were at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time unless noted.
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===== 1974–75 =====
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{| class="wikitable"
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|'''Date'''
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|'''Teams'''
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|'''Play-by-play'''
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|'''Color commentator(s)'''
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|'''Studio host'''
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|-
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|January 5<sup>[40]</sup>
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|St. Louis at Buffalo<sup>[40]</sup>
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|Tim Ryan<sup>[40]</sup>
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|Ted Lindsay<sup>[40]</sup>
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|Brian McFarlane<sup>[40]</sup>
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|-
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|January 11<sup>[41]</sup>
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|Philadelphia at Montreal
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|Tim Ryan
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|Ted Lindsay
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|Brian McFarlane
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|-
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|January 19
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|California at Chicago
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|-
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|January 26
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|Philadelphia at Boston
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|-
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|February 2<sup>[42]</sup>
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|Detroit at New York Rangers
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|-
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|February 9<sup>[43]</sup>
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|Montreal at Buffalo
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|-
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|February 16
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|Boston at Philadelphia
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|Tim Ryan<sup>[44]</sup>
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|Ted Lindsay<sup>[44]</sup>
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|Brian McFarlane<sup>[44]</sup>
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|-
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|February 23
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|New York Rangers at Philadelphia
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|Tim Ryan<sup>[45]</sup>
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|Ted Lindsay<sup>[45]</sup>
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|Brian McFarlane<sup>[45]</sup>
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|-
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|March 2
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|Chicago at Boston
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|-
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|March 9
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|Montreal at New York Rangers
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|-
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|March 16
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|Los Angeles at Philadelphia
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|-
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|March 23<sup>[46]</sup>
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|St. Louis at Vancouver
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|-
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|March 30
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|New York Islanders at Atlanta
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|-
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|April 6<sup>[28]</sup>
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|Minnesota at Chicago
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|}
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: Note: All start times (with the exception of the January 19 and February 9 telecasts) were at 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time.
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NBC did not broadcast the sixth game of the 1975 Finals, in which the Philadelphia Flyers defeated the Buffalo Sabres to clinch their second consecutive championship, played in prime time on a Tuesday night. Had the Finals gone to a seventh game, NBC would have pre-empted its prime time lineup on a Thursday night to carry that deciding contest. But by that time, the network had informed the NHL that unless ratings for the Finals spiked, it would drop the sport, which it did at the end of the season.
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===== Stanley Cup playoffs =====
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{| class="wikitable"
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|'''Year'''
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|'''Round'''
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|'''Series'''
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|'''Games covered'''
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|'''Play-by-play'''
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|'''Color commentator(s)'''
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|-
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| rowspan="3" |1973
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|Quarterfinals
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|Montreal-Buffalo
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|Game 4
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|Tim Ryan
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|Ted Lindsay
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|-
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| rowspan="2" |Semifinals
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|New York Rangers-Chicago
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|Game 2
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|Tim Ryan
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|Ted Lindsay
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|-
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|Montreal-Philadelphia
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|Game 4
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|Tim Ryan
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|Ted Lindsay
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|-
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| rowspan="4" |1974
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| rowspan="2" |Quarterfinals
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|Atlanta-Philadelphia
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|Game 1
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|Tim Ryan
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|Ted Lindsay
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|-
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|Montreal-New York Rangers
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|Game 4
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|Tim Ryan
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|Ted Lindsay
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|-
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| rowspan="2" |Semifinals
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|Boston-Chicago
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|Game 2
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|Tim Ryan
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|Ted Lindsay
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|-
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|Philadelphia-New York Rangers
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|Games 4, 7
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|Tim Ryan
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|Ted Lindsay
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|-
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| rowspan="4" |1975
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| rowspan="2" |Quarterfinals
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|Toronto-Philadelphia
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|Game 1
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|Tim Ryan
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|Ted Lindsay
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|-
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|Pittsburgh-New York Islanders
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|Game 4
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|Tim Ryan
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|Ted Lindsay
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|-
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| rowspan="2" |Semifinals
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|Montreal-Buffalo
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|Game 1
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|Tim Ryan
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|Ted Lindsay
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|-
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|Philadelphia-New York Islanders
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|Games 3, 6
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|Tim Ryan
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|Ted Lindsay
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|}
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=== The dark years (1976–1989) ===
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For 17 years after the 1975 Finals, there would be no national over-the-air network coverage of the NHL in the United States (with the exception of CBS' coverage of Game 2 of the 1979 Challenge Cup and Game 6 of the 1980 Stanley Cup Finals and NBC's coverage of the NHL All-Star Game beginning in 1990) and only spotty coverage on regional networks. This was due to the fact that no network was willing to commit to a large number of games, in turn, providing low ratings for NHL games. ABC would eventually resume broadcasting regular NHL games (on a time-buy basis through ESPN) for the 1992–93 season (and continuing through the 1993–94 season before Fox took over the broadcast television league rights for the next five seasons).
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=== 1990s ===
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From 1990 through 1994,<sup>[47][48][49]</sup> NBC<sup>[50][51]</sup> only televised the All Star Game.<sup>[52][53]</sup> NBC reportedly wanted to test the appeal of hockey,<sup>[54]</sup> having recently lost the Major League Baseball package to CBS. Shortly thereafter however, NBC would gain the broadcast television rights to the National Basketball Association (NBA) from CBS, thus there was a bit of a notion that NBC no longer really needed hockey.
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Marv Albert<sup>[55]</sup> and John Davidson<sup>[56]</sup> called the action, while Mike Emrick<sup>[57][58]</sup> served as an ice-level reporter in 1990.<sup>[59][60][61]</sup> Meanwhile, Bill Clement served as an ice-level reporter in 1991, 1992<sup>[62]</sup> and 1994.<sup>[63][64]</sup>''Hockey Night in Canada''<nowiki/>'s Ron MacLean also served as an ice-level reporter, and was the lone correspondent for NBC at the 1993 All-Star Game.<sup>[64]</sup> For the 1994 All-Star Game, Jim Gray served as correspondent and Brenda Brenon worked on intermission features for the NBC broadcast. As previously mentioned, the 1990 All-Star Game<sup>[65]</sup> marked the first time since Game 6 of the 1980 Stanley Cup Finals was broadcast on CBS<sup>[66][67]</sup> that the NHL appeared on American network television.
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The Montreal Canadiens were slated to host the 1990 All-Star Game, but the team withdrew their bid to considerations due to the superb hosting by Quebec City of Rendez-vous '87. This had allowed the Pittsburgh Penguins, which wanted to host an All-Star Game in 1993, to move up three years early. For its part, Pittsburgh's organizers added much more to previous games, creating the first "true" All-Star weekend.<sup>[68]</sup> Firstly was the addition of the ''Heroes of Hockey''<sup>[69][70]</sup> game, a two-period oldtimers' game between past NHL greats. The second was the addition of the National Hockey League All-Star Skills Competition, a competition between the players invited to the All-Star Game. The Skills competition was created by Paul Palmer, who adapted the ''Showdown'' feature seen on ''Hockey Night in Canada'' from 1972–73 to 1979–80. All-Star players would be rewarded with US$2,500 for any win in the skills competition.
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To accommodate the altered activities, the game itself was played on a Sunday afternoon<sup>[71]</sup> instead of a Tuesday night, as was the case in previous years. This allowed NBC to air the game live across the United States – marking (surprisingly) the first time that a national audience would see Wayne Gretzky<sup>[72]</sup> and Mario Lemieux<sup>[73]</sup> play. Referees and other officials were also wired with microphones in this game, as were the two head coaches. Finally, NBC was also allowed to conduct interviews with players during stoppages in play, to the chagrin of the ''Hockey Night in Canada'' crew, whose attempts to do likewise were repeatedly denied by the league in previous years.
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In 1991,<sup>[74]</sup> NBC broke away<sup>[75][76]</sup> from the telecast in the third period to televise a briefing from The Pentagon involving the Gulf War. SportsChannel America<sup>[77][78]</sup> included the missing coverage in a replay of NBC's telecast (NBC owned 50%<sup>[79][80][81][82]</sup> of Rainbow Enterprises, the parent of SportsChannel America).<sup>[83]</sup>
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There were reports<sup>[84]</sup> about NBC making an arrangement to air four to eight regular season games for the 1992–93 season<sup>[85]</sup> but nothing materialized. NHL officials had arranged a four- to eight-game, time-buypackage on NBC, but that fell through when the NHL wanted assurance that all NBC affiliates would carry the games (since 2006, NBC has generally gotten all but a couple of affiliates in the Top-50 markets to carry the games). For instance, in 1990, NBC's affiliates in Atlanta (NBC's coverage of the 1992 All-Star Game aired on the independent station WTLK in that market), Charlotte, Memphis, New Orleans, Indianapolis and Phoenixdid not clear the game (Atlanta and Phoenix would eventually receive NHL teams, however the Atlanta franchise relocated to Winnipeg in 2011). Ultimately, roughly 15% of the nation did not have access to the game. As previously mentioned, ABC was the league's network broadcaster instead, and then Fox won a bidding war with CBS for television rights lasting from the 1994–95 through 1998–99 seasons.
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=== 2000s ===
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==== Terms of the deal ====
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File:Nbcnhlpk0.jpg
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NHL on NBC logo used from 2005 to 2011.
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In May 2004, NBC reached an agreement with the NHL to broadcast a slate of regular season games and the Stanley Cup Finals. The plan called for NBC to air at least six weeks of regular season games (three regional games each week) on Saturday afternoons. In addition, NBC was to show one or two playoff games per weekend during the playoffs. Between two and five games from the Stanley Cup Finals would air in prime time (OLN/Versus received the other two as part of its package). NBC's primary game each week, as well as the Stanley Cup Finals, would air in high definition.
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Unlike previous network television deals with the NHL (like Fox, which had the rights from 1994 to 1999 and ABC, which had the rights from 1999 to 2004), NBC paid no upfront rights fee, instead splitting advertising revenue with the league after meeting its own production and distribution costs. On the other hand, the league avoided the arrangement some minor sports leagues have, in which they pay networks for broadcast time and produce their own telecasts, but keep any advertising revenue.
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The last time NBC Sports entered a television deal which did not require it to pay any rights fees was in 1994–1995, when the division was involved in the Major League Baseball joint venture called "The Baseball Network." To a lesser extent, NBC also had a similar sort of revenue-sharing agreement with the Arena Football League and, because of their ownership in the XFL, also paid no rights fees for airing that league.
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NBC's out-of-market games were available on ''NHL Center Ice'' through the 2006–07 season; NBC switched to stand-alone games for the 2007–08 season.
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=== 2004–05 NHL lockout ===
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NBC's initial contract with the NHL ran for two years, with an option given to the network to renew for two additional years. NBC's NHL coverage was delayed a year because of the 2004–05 NHL lockout, which wound up cancelling the entire regular season and playoffs.<sup>[86]</sup> NBC instead, decided to replace five of its scheduled NHL broadcasts with alternate sports programming (such as reruns of ''NASCAR Year in Review'' and ''The Purina Incredible Dog Challenge''). NBC also decided to give one of the slots back to local affiliates, some of which filled the time given back to them with infomercials.
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=== 2004–05 schedule (all would have been regional games) ===
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{| class="wikitable"
  +
|'''Date'''
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|'''Teams'''
  +
|'''Start times''' (All times Eastern)
  +
|-
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|1/22/05
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|Philadelphia vs. NY Rangers<br>
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Chicago vs. St. Louis<br>
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San Jose vs. Colorado
  +
|2:00 p.m.<br>
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2:00 p.m.<br>
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2:00 p.m.
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|-
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|1/29/05
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|Tampa Bay vs. Boston<br>
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Colorado vs. Detroit<br>
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Anaheim vs. Minnesota
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|1:30 p.m.<br>
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1:30 p.m.<br>
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1:30 p.m.
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|-
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|2/5/05
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|Chicago vs. Boston<br>
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New Jersey vs. Philadelphia<br>
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Dallas vs. St. Louis
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|2:00 p.m.<br>
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2:00 p.m.<br>
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2:00 p.m.
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|-
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|2/19/05
  +
|Philadelphia vs. NY Rangers<br>
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Detroit vs. Tampa Bay<br>
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Dallas vs. St. Louis
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|2:00 p.m.<br>
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2:00 p.m.<br>
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2:00 p.m.
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|-
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|2/26/05
  +
|NY Islanders vs. New Jersey<br>
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Colorado vs. Philadelphia<br>
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San Jose vs. Detroit
  +
|1:30 p.m.<br>
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1:30 p.m.<br>
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1:30 p.m.
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|-
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|4/9/05
  +
|NY Rangers vs. Boston<br>
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Chicago vs. St. Louis<br>
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Anaheim vs. San Jose
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|2:00 p.m.<br>
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2:00 p.m.<br>
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5:00 p.m. (would have been seen only in the Pacific Time Zone, Alaska and Hawaii)
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|}
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==== 2005–06 season ====
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NHL games officially returned to NBC under the new agreement on January 14, 2006, debuting with three regional games (New York Rangers at Detroit Red Wings, Colorado Avalanche at Philadelphia Flyers, and the Dallas Stars at Boston Bruins) to substantial praise among hockey fans and writers, who often compare the television network's presentation to ''Hockey Night in Canada'', which is broadcast in full on the ''NHL Center Ice''package (although some writers even speculated that NBC's playoff broadcasts were superior to CBC's, largely because of their choice of announcers and the fact that NBC provided HD coverage of games prior to the Finals).
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  +
===== 2005–06 schedule (all regional games) =====
  +
{| class="wikitable"
  +
|'''Date'''
  +
|'''Teams'''
  +
|'''Start times''' (All times Eastern)
  +
|'''Commentator crews'''
  +
|-
  +
|1/14/06
  +
|NY Rangers vs. Detroit<br>
  +
Colorado vs. Philadelphia<br>
  +
Dallas vs. Boston
  +
|2:00 p.m.<br>
  +
2:00 p.m.<br>
  +
2:00 p.m.
  +
|Mike Emrick, John Davidson and Pierre McGuire<br>
  +
Dave Strader, Brian Hayward and Joe Micheletti<br>
  +
Chris Cuthbert, Peter McNab and Cammi Granato
  +
|-
  +
|1/21/06
  +
|Philadelphia vs. Pittsburgh<br>
  +
Detroit vs. Colorado<br>
  +
San Jose vs. Los Angeles
  +
|2:00 p.m.<br>
  +
2:00 p.m.<br>
  +
6:00 p.m. (West Coast, Alaska and Hawaii only)
  +
|Mike Emrick, John Davidson and Pierre McGuire<br>
  +
Chris Cuthbert, Peter McNab and Cammi Granato<br>
  +
Dave Strader, Brian Hayward and Joe Micheletti
  +
|-
  +
|1/28/06
  +
|Pittsburgh vs. NY Rangers<br>
  +
Detroit vs. Dallas<br>
  +
Tampa Bay vs. Philadelphia
  +
|2:00 p.m.<br>
  +
2:00 p.m.<br>
  +
2:00 p.m.
  +
|Mike Emrick, John Davidson and Pierre McGuire<br>
  +
Chris Cuthbert, Peter McNab and Cammi Granato<br>
  +
Dave Strader, Brian Hayward and Joe Micheletti
  +
|-
  +
|2/4/06
  +
|Detroit vs. Colorado<br>
  +
Dallas vs. St. Louis<br>
  +
NY Islanders vs. Pittsburgh
  +
|2:00 p.m.<br>
  +
2:00 p.m.<br>
  +
2:00 p.m.
  +
|Mike Emrick, John Davidson and Pierre McGuire<br>
  +
Chris Cuthbert, Peter McNab and Cammi Granato<br>
  +
Dave Strader, Brian Hayward and Joe Micheletti
  +
|-
  +
|4/8/06
  +
|NY Rangers vs. Boston<br>
  +
Colorado vs. St. Louis<br>
  +
Anaheim vs. Los Angeles
  +
|2:00 p.m.<br>
  +
2:00 p.m.<br>
  +
6:00 p.m.
  +
|Mike Emrick, John Davidson and Pierre McGuire<br>
  +
Chris Cuthbert, Peter McNab and Cammi Granato<br>
  +
Dave Strader, Brian Hayward and Joe Micheletti
  +
|-
  +
|4/15/06
  +
|New York Rangers at Philadelphia<br>
  +
Minnesota vs. Dallas<br>
  +
Boston vs. Atlanta
  +
|2:00 p.m.<br>
  +
2:00 p.m.<br>
  +
2:00 p.m.
  +
|Mike Emrick, John Davidson and Pierre McGuire<br>
  +
Chris Cuthbert, Peter McNab and Cammi Granato<br>
  +
Dave Strader, Brian Hayward and Joe Micheletti
  +
|}
  +
  +
==== 2006–07 season ====
  +
For the 2006–07 season, NBC broadcast three regional NHL games per weekend of coverage during the regular season. The network also scheduled ten coverage windows during the playoffs (not including the Stanley Cup Finals). The additional broadcasts were expected to replace the Arena Football League, which NBC dropped after the 2006 season. NBC also produced two games per week in high definition, up from one in 2005–06.
  +
  +
The newly titled ''NHL on NBC Game of the Week'' returned on January 13, 2007, with three regional games (between the Los Angeles and St. Louis Blues, Boston Bruins and New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers) at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Games started at various times, ranging from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. during the season (this variation primarily resulted from NBC's commitments to the PGA Tour and other programming).
  +
  +
NBC moved its NHL telecasts to Sundays after its season premiere (which occurred on a Saturday) for the final eight dates of the season. The nine weeks of games (totaling 22 regional games) scheduled by the network amounted to the league's most extensive U.S. broadcast television coverage since 1998, during Fox's tenure. A new Sunday Night Football-esque horizontal score banner, designed by Troika Design Group, also debuted during the season.
  +
  +
===== 2006–07 schedule (all regional games) =====
  +
{| class="wikitable"
  +
|'''Date'''
  +
|'''Teams'''
  +
|'''Start times''' (All times Eastern)
  +
|'''Commentator crews'''
  +
|-
  +
|1/13/07
  +
|Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia<br>
  +
Boston vs. NY Rangers<br>
  +
Los Angeles vs. St. Louis
  +
|2:00 p.m.<br>
  +
2:00 p.m.<br>
  +
2:00 p.m.
  +
|Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire<br>
  +
Dave Strader, Brian Hayward and Joe Micheletti<br>
  +
Chris Cuthbert, Peter McNab and Darren Pang
  +
|-
  +
|1/28/07
  +
|Colorado vs. Detroit<br>
  +
Dallas vs. Anaheim<br>
  +
Philadelphia vs. Atlanta
  +
|3:30 p.m.<br>
  +
3:30 p.m.<br>
  +
3:30 p.m.
  +
|Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire<br>
  +
Dave Strader, Brian Hayward and Joe Micheletti<br>
  +
Chris Cuthbert, Peter McNab and Darren Pang
  +
|-
  +
|2/11/07
  +
|Colorado vs. Dallas<br>
  +
Tampa Bay vs. New Jersey<br>
  +
Chicago vs. Columbus
  +
|3:30 p.m<br>
  +
3:30 p.m.<br>
  +
3:30 p.m.
  +
|Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire<br>
  +
Dave Strader, Brian Hayward and Joe Micheletti<br>
  +
Chris Cuthbert and Peter McNab
  +
|-
  +
|2/18/07
  +
|Washington vs. Pittsburgh<br>
  +
Chicago vs. NY Rangers<br>
  +
San Jose vs. Dallas
  +
|3:30 p.m.<br>
  +
3:30 p.m.<br>
  +
3:30 p.m.
  +
|Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire<br>
  +
Dave Strader, Peter McNab and Joe Micheletti<br>
  +
Chris Cuthbert, Brian Hayward and Darren Pang
  +
|-
  +
|3/4/07
  +
|Colorado vs. Detroit<br>
  +
Philadelphia vs. Pittsburgh
  +
|12:30 p.m.<br>
  +
12:30 p.m.
  +
|Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire<br>
  +
Dave Strader, Peter McNab and Joe Micheletti
  +
|-
  +
|3/11/07
  +
|Boston vs. Detroit<br>
  +
Carolina vs. NY Rangers
  +
|12:30 p.m.<br>
  +
12:30 p.m.
  +
|Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire<br>
  +
Dave Strader, Brian Hayward and Joe Micheletti
  +
|-
  +
|3/25/07
  +
|Boston vs. Pittsburgh<br>
  +
NY Rangers vs. NY Islanders
  +
|12:30 p.m.<br>
  +
12:30 p.m.
  +
|Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire<br>
  +
Dave Strader, Brian Hayward and Joe Micheletti
  +
|-
  +
|4/1/07
  +
|Detroit vs. Columbus<br>
  +
Los Angeles vs. San Jose
  +
|12:30 p.m. (seen on all NBC stations in the Eastern, Central and Mountain Time Zones)<br>
  +
6:00 p.m. (West Coast, Alaska and Hawaii)
  +
|Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk, Brett Hull and Pierre McGuire<br>
  +
Chris Cuthbert, Brian Hayward and Peter McNab
  +
|-
  +
|4/8/07
  +
|Buffalo vs. Philadelphia<br>
  +
Chicago vs. Dallas
  +
|1:00 p.m.<br>
  +
1:00 p.m.
  +
|Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire<br>
  +
Chris Cuthbert, Joe Micheletti and Peter McNab
  +
|}
  +
  +
===== 2007 playoffs controversy =====
  +
On May 19, 2007, during the Stanley Cup playoffs, NBC angered many fans and journalists when it pre-empted coverage of the overtime period of the tied Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Ottawa Senators and Buffalo Sabres, instead going directly to pre-race coverage of the Preakness Stakes horse race. A typical "Triple Crown" horse racing broadcast generally contains about two hours of pre-race coverage, with the actual races lasting two or three minutes. Coverage of the overtime period was shifted to Versus,<sup>[87]</sup> the league's cable partner, although viewers in Buffalo and Rochester were able to continue watching the game on local NBC affiliates in the respective markets, WGRZ and WHEC-TV.
  +
  +
The move was originally seen not only as a snub of small-market teams (such as the Sabres), but of hockey in general. However, NBC and the NHL later revealed that the Preakness deal had been made several years before and contained mandatory advertising commitments during the pre-race build-up. Both sides could have agreed that the entire game would air only on Versus or begin earlier in the day, but the NHL wanted at least one Eastern Conference Finals game to air on NBC, and said that it does ''not'' schedule with the assumption that games will go into overtime. Moreover, an earlier start time could not be arranged because the broadcast window was fixed in advance, and both the NHL and NBC needed the flexibility to pick the Western Conference Finals for that window if they so desired.
  +
  +
In 2006, NBC televised Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Sabres and the Carolina Hurricanes on the same day as the Preakness. Before the game, Bill Clement advised the audience that in the event that the game went into overtime, it would be televised on Versus, or OLN as it was known at the time. The Sabres won the game in regulation.
  +
  +
===== ''NHL on NBC Faceoff'' =====
  +
For the 2006–07 season, NBC added an online, broadband-only pregame show to its NHL coverage (similar to what it does with its Notre Dame football coverage). Titled ''NHL on NBC Countdown to Faceoff'', the show airs for a half-hour before every ''NHL on NBC'' telecast on NBCSports.com and features a breakdown of upcoming action, as well as reports from the game sites and a feature on an NHL player.
  +
  +
On March 27, 2007, NBC Sports and the NHL agreed to a one-year contract extension with a network option for a second year.
  +
  +
Beginning in 2007–08, NBC incorporated "flex scheduling" for its NHL coverage, similar to NFL broadcasts. Through this method, the league selects at least three potential games at the start of the season for most of NBC's regular-season coverage dates. Thirteen days prior to the game, NBC then selects one to air as its ''Game of the Week'', then the other two games move outside of NBC's broadcast window and return to teams' regional carriers. Since the league made network coverage a priority in the 1990s, regionalized coverage had been the norm; NBC is the first network to attempt to regularly present one game to the entire country. Additionally, studio segments began to originate from the game site instead of 30 Rockefeller Center. All game telecasts also began to be produced in 1080i high definition.
  +
  +
NBC began its 2007–08 schedule on January 1, 2008, with the NHL Winter Classic, an outdoor hockey game between the Buffalo Sabres and Pittsburgh Penguins at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The game went head-to-head with some of the New Year's Day college football bowl games, but none of the feature Bowl Championship Series games. While never expected to beat or directly compete with football ratings, the timing was designed to take advantage of the large audience flipping between channels to watch the different bowl games. It was the first such game to be televised live by an American network and the NHL's first outdoor regular season game since the Edmonton Oilers and Montreal Canadiens played the Heritage Classic, which aired on CBC, which served as the Canadian broadcaster of the 2008 Classic. Although originally maligned as a mere publicity stunt by some in the media, the 2008 Winter Classic drew a 2.6 rating in the U.S. (or about 2.9 million viewers) according to Nielsen, the highest rating for a regular-season contest since February 1996, when Fox was the league's network partner.<sup>[88]</sup> By comparison, CBS received a 2.7 rating for the Gator Bowl, which also had a 1:00 p.m. start.<sup>[89]</sup>
  +
  +
Beginning that season, all regular season telecasts air mainly on Sunday afternoons, except for those occurring the day after Thanksgiving and on New Year's Day.
  +
  +
In April 2008, NBC announced the activation of its option to retain broadcasting rights for the 2008–09 season. NBC's scheduling for that year was similar to that which it had during the 2007–08 season (flex scheduling for regular-season games, up to five games of the Stanley Cup Finals – changing in 2009 to include the first two and last three games, among others) except that all (or nearly all) of the Sunday-afternoon games now began at 12:30 p.m. Eastern Time. Coverage again included the Winter Classic outdoor game on January 1, 2009, between the Detroit Red Wings and the Chicago Blackhawks at Wrigley Field.
  +
  +
==== Teams featured ====
  +
Regular-season NHL telecasts on NBC itself usually only feature U.S.-based teams. During the Stanley Cup playoffs, broadcasting a game involving a Canadian team might be unavoidable. NBC has the first choice of games and times on its scheduled broadcast dates. The Canadian broadcasters (CBC, TSN, and later Sportsnet) are required to adjust accordingly during the playoffs, even though they pay the league substantial rights fees and NBC, until its most recent contract extension, did not.
  +
  +
There have been a few exceptions to this policy since 2006; in 2008, the Montreal Canadiens became the first Canadian team featured on the ''NHL on NBC'' during the regular season (NBC Sports' Dick Ebersol was rumored to have specifically wanted to do a game from Montreal at some point). The Canadiens played the New York Rangers on February 3. The 2014 NHL Winter Classic also featured a Canadian team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, up against the Detroit Red Wings at Michigan Stadium. Due to the revamp of the league's conferences and divisions that season, the cross-border rivalry had become an interdivisional one with the Wings' move to the Eastern Conference. The 2016 NHL Winter Classic will have the Montreal Canadiens facing the Boston Bruins in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The Boston/Montreal rivalry is generally considered the fiercest in the NHL; in fact, there were rumblings that if Montreal were not Boston's opponent in the 2016 Classic that Boston would relinquish the game.
  +
  +
NBCSN will occasionally feature Canadian teams during the regular season, but primarily only the Canadiens and the Maple Leafs, and only if they are playing a U.S.-based team. The NHL Heritage Classic matchups are the only all-Canadian regular season games that NBCSN has broadcast.
  +
  +
Like its predecessors, NBC frequently chooses games with a focus on about six teams: New York Rangers, Detroit Red Wings, Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston Bruins, and most recently the Washington Capitals and Chicago Blackhawks. The relation has very little correlation with team success; for instance, the Anaheim Ducks won the Stanley Cup in 2007, and the Buffalo Sabres made it to the conference finals in both 2006 and 2007. Those teams received one and two potential games respectively in the 2008 season, compared to the seven potential games given to the Rangers and the four games which could include the rival Philadelphia Flyers.<sup>[90]</sup> There also is significant emphasis on the Flyers; that franchise is a subsidiary of Spectacor, a majority-owned subsidiary of NBC parent company Comcast, making its favored status a conflict of interest(specifically self-dealing), especially since Comcast has become the exclusive national television broadcaster of the NHL in the United States. None of the other three major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada currently have any such conflict between their team owners and broadcasters, since they have at least two separate national broadcasters (Buffalo has fared better in its number of NBCSNappearances, due in part to the channel's relatively high viewership in the Buffalo market).<sup>[91]</sup>
  +
  +
The most frequently cited reasons for this relative lack of diversity are low ratings in a market (such as for Anaheim, which competes with the older Los Angeles Kings in its market) and market size (such as for Buffalo, where hockey ratings are the highest in the league, but the market itself is the smallest of any American NHL team).
  +
  +
On some occasions, NBCSN will add select games to air other than those already scheduled during the season. The 'bonus games' have featured teams that are covered locally on Comcast SportsNet (such as the Philadelphia Flyers, Washington Capitals, Chicago Blackhawks or the San Jose Sharks), with the NHL on NBC studio team taking care of pregame, intermission and postgame reports. Such broadcasts also apply in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The network also airs a simulcast of games aired in Canada on Sportsnet (both national and regional), CBC and TSN.
  +
  +
Examples of the above trends could be found in NBC Sports' national schedule for the 2015-16 regular season. In a press release announcing this schedule, NBC stated that "every U.S. team will appear on NBC or NBCSN in the regular season",<sup>[92]</sup> but an analysis compiled by Yahoo! Sports noted the following:<sup>[93]</sup>
  +
* Five US teams (the Arizona Coyotes, Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets, Florida Panthers, and New Jersey Devils) will only make 1 appearance each, while the Montreal Canadiens will make 6 total appearances.
  +
* The top teams that make the most national appearances in 2015-16 are the Chicago Blackhawks (21), Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers (tied at 18), Detroit Red Wings (16), and New York Rangers (13). The Flyers are tied for second despite missing the playoffs during the previous season.
  +
* The Anaheim Ducks, who advanced to the conference finals during the previous season, will only make 4 appearances, while the Los Angeles Kings and the San Jose Sharks, who both missed the playoffs, will appear 10 and 11 times, respectively.
  +
* Despite drafting top prospect Connor McDavid with the first pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, the Edmonton Oilers will only make 1 appearance. The Toronto Maple Leafs will also make 1 appearance, despite hiring former long time Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock. The four other Canadian teams (Calgary Flames, Ottawa Senators, Vancouver Canucks, and Winnipeg Jets), who did each advance to the playoffs during the previous season, will not appear.
  +
  +
==== Innovations ====
  +
Some of the innovations that NBC has brought for its NHL telecasts include putting a star clock underneath the scoreboard at the top of the screen. During each game, NBC takes one player from each team and clocks how long that player is out on the ice each time he comes out for a shift. In addition, goalies like Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury may wear cameras inside their masks, much like Fox asks catchers to do for its Major League Baseball game broadcasts. NBC also puts one of its analysts in-between the two teams' benches for what it calls "Inside the Glass" reporting, which was later emulated by sister network Comcast SportsNet, CBC and TSN. In addition to providing color commentary, this allows the analyst to observe and report on the benches, as well as interviewing the coaches periodically.
  +
  +
=== 2010s ===
  +
NBC renewed its rights to the NHL for the 2010-11 season. The network broadcast schedule continued to include the Winter Classic, Sunday-afternoon games at 12:30 p.m. Eastern Time, six weekends of playoff action, and broadcasts of Games 1, 2, 5, 6 and 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.
  +
  +
On February 20, 2011, NBC introduced ''Hockey Day in America''<sup>[94]</sup> – patterned after the CBC's ''Hockey Day in Canada'', it featured eight of the most popular American teams in regional games: the Washington Capitals at the Buffalo Sabres, the Philadelphia Flyers at the New York Rangers, and the Detroit Red Wings at the Minnesota Wild, followed by the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Chicago Blackhawks for the national nightcap. The Flyers-Rangers game was aired in the majority of the country, while the Sabres-Capitals game was only seen in the Buffalo and Washington, D.C. markets; as was the Red Wings-Wild game in their respective markets. The tripleheader would be completed with the 2011 Heritage Classic, for which viewers were redirected to Versus.
  +
  +
==== 2011: New contract, new synergy ====
  +
On April 19, 2011, after ESPN, Turner Sports and Fox Sports placed bids, NBC Sports announced it had reached a ten-year extension to its television contract with the NHL (through the 2020–21 season) worth nearly $2 billion over the tenure of the contract. The contract would cover games on both NBC and sister cable channel Versus,<sup>[95]</sup> which became part of the NBC Sports family as the result of Versus parent Comcast's controlling purchase of NBC Universal earlier in 2011. In relation to the contract's announcement, Versus would receive a new name to reflect its synergy with NBC Sports; the channel rebranded as NBC Sports Network<sup>[96]</sup> on January 2, 2012<sup>[97]</sup> (it would later be abbreviated on-air and then officially shortened to NBCSN); NHL coverage on Versus would begin to be produced identically to NBC's NHL coverage beginning in the 2011–12 season, leading up to the brand change.
  +
  +
The terms of the deal included:<sup>[98]</sup>
  +
* A rights fee of roughly US$200 million per year for the combined cable and broadcast rights, nearly triple that of the previous contract;<sup>[99]</sup>
  +
* Increased weekly regular season coverage on Versus/NBCSN (as many as 90 games per season on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights), with Sunday night games also being added by the channel later in the season.
  +
* Rights to an annual "Thanksgiving Showdown" game airing on NBC the day after Thanksgiving ("Black Friday" afternoon) (the 2012 edition was cancelled due to the 2012–13 NHL lockout). The November broadcast is the earliest an NHL regular season game has aired on a broadcast television network in the U.S. since the 1950s, when the league still only had six teams. The 2013 "Thanksgiving Showdown" game featured the Boston Bruins hosting the New York Rangers; it was widely expected that Boston will remain the home team in future years and launch a holiday tradition for the league and network (Boston has hosted matinee games the day after Thanksgiving since the 1980s), much like Detroit and Dallas traditionally host National Football League games on Thanksgiving Day; however, NBC decided to end this tradition for the 2014-15 season, with a Black Friday matinee between the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers being aired instead, while Boston held a locally televised game on the evening of Black Friday in 2014.<sup>[100]</sup> Boston resumed hosting the game in 2015, with a second Black Friday game (Chicago at Anaheim) airing later in the afternoon on NBCSN.
  +
* Continued coverage on NBC of the NHL Winter Classic, to be played on New Year's Day unless that day lands on a Sunday, in which case the game is moved to January 2 (despite the open time slot on Sunday afternoons, NBC is effectively forbidden via a gentleman's agreement with the NFL which prevents any form of strong counterprogramming against NFL games televised on CBS and Fox). Initially the Classic was expected to be played in primetime, however to date every game has been scheduled for a 1 PM ET start, and due to new competition from the College Football Playoff the game is now expected to remain a daytime game for the foreseeable future. NBC has instead opted to air one prime time game each year, later in the season, since 2014.
  +
* A national "Game of the Week" continuing on NBC as in previous years, beginning each January (January is the start month due to NBC's contract with the NFL).
  +
* ''Hockey Day in America'' becoming a permanent annual part of the NBC schedule.
  +
* Rights to any future Heritage Classics, which would be aired on NBCSN.
  +
* Digital rights across all platforms for any games broadcast by NBC or NBCSN.
  +
* Increased coverage of Stanley Cup Playoff games,<sup>[101]</sup> with all playoff games airing nationally on NBC, NBCSN, CNBC, USA and NHL Network.<sup>[102]</sup> Local sports networks can carry their teams' first-round games, but any games on NBC, and any NBC cable games from the second round onward, will be exclusive to NBC.
  +
* Continued sharing of the Stanley Cup Final on NBC (which will air Games 1, 2, 5, 6, and 7) and NBCSN (Games 3 and 4). The deal gives NBC the option of moving Games 3 and 4 to the broadcast network. During the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals, NBC aired Games 1, 4, 5, 6 and 7 while NBCSN aired Games 2 and 3.
  +
Currently, NHL regular season games on NBC are exclusive to the network. While most NHL games on NBCSN are exclusive (such as ''Wednesday Night Rivalry''), other games carried by the network may be blacked outregionally in favor of television stations or regional sports networks which hold the local broadcast rights to an NHL franchise.
  +
  +
In the 2012–13 season, Wednesday night games on NBCSN were rebranded as ''Wednesday Night Rivalry'', primarily featuring rivalry games. For the 2013–14 season, NBC Sports introduced the series ''NHL Rivals'', which looks back at the participating teams' historic rivalry leading up to the featured ''Wednesday Night Rivalry'' game.
  +
  +
Beginning in the 2014-15 season, TSN Hockey personalities Bob McKenzie, Darren Dreger and Chris Cuthbert joined the NHL on NBC team. This was the result of Rogers Media's - the owners of Sportsnet - exclusive 12-year deal with the NHL in Canada replacing both TSN and CBC Sports as the rightsholders to the NHL.
  +
  +
In 2015, NBC Sports partnered with the league to expand Kraft Hockeyville into the United States. The annual contest, in which communities compete to demonstrate their commitment to ice hockey, with the winning community being awarded the opportunity to host a nationally televised NHL preseason game, was first held across Canada in 2006. Similar to what CBC Sports had done in covering Kraft Hockeyville in Canada, NBC Sports began airing regular segments on the separate Hockeyville USA competition for communities in the U.S. On September 29, 2015, NBCSN aired the inaugural Kraft Hockeyville USA game at Cambria County War Memorial Arena, Johnstown, Pennsylvania, marking the first time that the NHL on NBC televised a preseason game since it acquired the American rights in 2005.
  +
 
==2005-2012==
 
==2005-2012==
 
[[File:Nhlnbc2.jpg|center|200px]]
 
[[File:Nhlnbc2.jpg|center|200px]]

Revision as of 17:56, August 25, 2017

The NHL on NBC is a presentation of National Hockey League (NHL) games that are produced by NBC Sports, and televised on NBC and NBCSN in the United States. While NBC has covered the league at various points in its history, the network's current relationship with the NHL is the result of NBC Sports acquiring the league's broadcast television rights from ABC in 2006. Its current contract with the league runs until 2021.

Since 2008, NBC's regular season coverage includes the annual NHL Winter Classic, an outdoor game usually played on New Year's Day; one national weekly regular season game each Sunday afternoon after New Year's Day; one week of regionally televised contests in February for Hockey Weekend Across America; and one nationally televised game on the day after Thanksgiving. NBCSN's coverage includes 90 regular season games that are mostly aired on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings (the latter dubbed Wednesday Night Rivalry), and later in the season on Sunday evenings. Coverage of the Stanley Cup Playoffs is split between NBC and NBCSN, with CNBC and the USA Network[2][3][4] (beginning in 2015) airing selected playoff games during the first two rounds. In 2015, NBC Deportes began to simulcast NHL on NBC broadcasts in Spanish through the Hockey Telemundo banner.

History

February 25, 1940 and 1966

As part of a series of experimental broadcasts that W2XBS (now NBC's flagship station, WNBC) produced between 1939 and 1940, the station broadcast a game between the New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiensfrom Madison Square Garden on February 25, 1940. About 300 people in the New York City area saw the Rangers win, 6-2. Over the next few years, W2XBS (later WNBT) carried some New York Rangers home games on a local basis.

Regularly scheduled American network broadcasts of NHL games would not begin until the late 1950s, when CBS began carrying regular season games, but no playoff matches. The deal was terminated in 1960, due to a combination of a dispute over the players receiving a share of the rights fee and the then-regional nature of the sport.

Televised NHL games resumed for the 1965–66 NHL season, but this time on NBC; the regional issues were settled by the league's pending addition of six new teams, which expanded the league's reach nationwide and into lucrative markets in Pennsylvania and California (in addition to two other midwestern markets; NBC, however, would lose the broadcast rights before the six new teams would make it to play). In 1966, NBC became the first[5] television network in the United States to air a national broadcast of a Stanley Cup Playoff game. The network provided coverage of four Sunday afternoon playoff games[6][7] during the 1965–66 postseason.[8]On April 10[9] and April 17,[10] NBC aired semifinal games between the Chicago Black Hawks and the Detroit Red Wings. On April 24[11] and May 1,[12] NBC aired Games 1 and 4[13] of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Montreal Canadiens and the Detroit Red Wings. Win Elliot served as the play-by-play man while Bill Mazer served as the color commentator for the games.[14]

NBC's coverage of the 1966 Stanley Cup Finals marked the first time that hockey games were broadcast on network television in color.[15] The CBC would follow suit the following year. NBC's Stanley Cup coverage preempted a sports anthology series called NBC Sports in Action, hosted by Jim Simpson and Bill Cullen, who were between-periods co-hosts for the Stanley Cup broadcasts.

NHL broadcast rights returned to CBS the next season, however due to other programming commitments, regular season games were handed off to RKO General.

1970s

From 1972–73–1974–75, NBC not only televised the Stanley Cup Finals (including a couple of games in prime time[19]), but also weekly regular season games on Sunday afternoons. NBC also aired one regular season and a couple of playoff games in prime time during the first couple of seasons. Tim Ryan and Ted Lindsay (with Brian McFarlane as the intermission host) served as the commentators for NBC's NHL coverage during this period. Since most NHL teams still did not have players' names displayed on the backs of jerseys, NBC persuaded NHL commissioner Clarence Campbell to make teams put on players' names on NBC telecasts beginning with the 1973–74 season to help viewers identify them.

NBC's NHL coverage during the 1970s was probably most notable for the introduction of Peter Puck. The animated character, whose cartoon adventures (produced by Hanna-Barbera) appeared on both NBC's Hockey Game of the Week and CBC's Hockey Night in Canada, explained hockey rules to the home viewing audience.

Besides Peter Puck, the 1970s version of The NHL on NBC had a between-periods feature titled Showdown. The concept of Showdown involved 20 of the NHL's greatest players (16 shooters and four goaltenders) going head-to-head in a taped penalty shot competition. After the NHL left NBC in 1975, Showdown continued to be seen on Hockey Night in Canada and local television broadcasts of U.S.-based NHL teams.

NBC's last regular season NHL game (until the start of the current league contract in 2006) occurred on April 6, 1975, with the Minnesota North Stars playing against the Chicago Black Hawks.[28]

Schedules

1972–73
Date Teams
December 29 (prime time game starting at 8:30 p.m. Eastern) Boston at Minnesota
January 7 Boston at Chicago
January 13[29] New York Rangers at St. Louis
January 21[30] Minnesota at Detroit
January 28[31] Detroit at Montreal
February 4[32] Pittsburgh at Minnesota
February 11 Montreal at New York Rangers
February 18[33] Montreal at Toronto
February 25 St. Louis at Detroit
March 4[34] Chicago at Boston
March 11 Toronto at New York Rangers
March 16 (prime time game starting at 8:30 pm Eastern) Boston at Detroit
March 18 Detroit at Chicago
March 25[35] St. Louis at Philadelphia

Note: The December 29 and March 16 games were on Friday nights; all other regular season games were on Sunday afternoons. All start times at 3:00 pm Eastern Standard Time unless noted.

1973–74
Date Teams
January 4 (prime time game starting at 8:30 pm Eastern) Boston at New York Rangers
January 19[36] New York Rangers at Chicago
January 27 Philadelphia at Boston
February 3 Montreal at Detroit
February 10 Los Angeles at Atlanta
February 17 Philadelphia at Montreal
February 24 Boston at Buffalo
March 3 Chicago at Detroit
March 10 Philadelphia at Boston
March 17 New York Rangers at Boston
March 24 St. Louis at Philadelphia
March 31[37] Toronto at New York Rangers
April 7[38] Pittsburgh at Atlanta
April 14[39] Montreal at New York Rangers
Note: The January 4 game was on a Friday night; all other regular season games were on Sunday afternoons. All start times were at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time unless noted.
1974–75
Date Teams Play-by-play Color commentator(s) Studio host
January 5[40] St. Louis at Buffalo[40] Tim Ryan[40] Ted Lindsay[40] Brian McFarlane[40]
January 11[41] Philadelphia at Montreal Tim Ryan Ted Lindsay Brian McFarlane
January 19 California at Chicago
January 26 Philadelphia at Boston
February 2[42] Detroit at New York Rangers
February 9[43] Montreal at Buffalo
February 16 Boston at Philadelphia Tim Ryan[44] Ted Lindsay[44] Brian McFarlane[44]
February 23 New York Rangers at Philadelphia Tim Ryan[45] Ted Lindsay[45] Brian McFarlane[45]
March 2 Chicago at Boston
March 9 Montreal at New York Rangers
March 16 Los Angeles at Philadelphia
March 23[46] St. Louis at Vancouver
March 30 New York Islanders at Atlanta
April 6[28] Minnesota at Chicago
Note: All start times (with the exception of the January 19 and February 9 telecasts) were at 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

NBC did not broadcast the sixth game of the 1975 Finals, in which the Philadelphia Flyers defeated the Buffalo Sabres to clinch their second consecutive championship, played in prime time on a Tuesday night. Had the Finals gone to a seventh game, NBC would have pre-empted its prime time lineup on a Thursday night to carry that deciding contest. But by that time, the network had informed the NHL that unless ratings for the Finals spiked, it would drop the sport, which it did at the end of the season.

Stanley Cup playoffs
Year Round Series Games covered Play-by-play Color commentator(s)
1973 Quarterfinals Montreal-Buffalo Game 4 Tim Ryan Ted Lindsay
Semifinals New York Rangers-Chicago Game 2 Tim Ryan Ted Lindsay
Montreal-Philadelphia Game 4 Tim Ryan Ted Lindsay
1974 Quarterfinals Atlanta-Philadelphia Game 1 Tim Ryan Ted Lindsay
Montreal-New York Rangers Game 4 Tim Ryan Ted Lindsay
Semifinals Boston-Chicago Game 2 Tim Ryan Ted Lindsay
Philadelphia-New York Rangers Games 4, 7 Tim Ryan Ted Lindsay
1975 Quarterfinals Toronto-Philadelphia Game 1 Tim Ryan Ted Lindsay
Pittsburgh-New York Islanders Game 4 Tim Ryan Ted Lindsay
Semifinals Montreal-Buffalo Game 1 Tim Ryan Ted Lindsay
Philadelphia-New York Islanders Games 3, 6 Tim Ryan Ted Lindsay

The dark years (1976–1989)

For 17 years after the 1975 Finals, there would be no national over-the-air network coverage of the NHL in the United States (with the exception of CBS' coverage of Game 2 of the 1979 Challenge Cup and Game 6 of the 1980 Stanley Cup Finals and NBC's coverage of the NHL All-Star Game beginning in 1990) and only spotty coverage on regional networks. This was due to the fact that no network was willing to commit to a large number of games, in turn, providing low ratings for NHL games. ABC would eventually resume broadcasting regular NHL games (on a time-buy basis through ESPN) for the 1992–93 season (and continuing through the 1993–94 season before Fox took over the broadcast television league rights for the next five seasons).

1990s

From 1990 through 1994,[47][48][49] NBC[50][51] only televised the All Star Game.[52][53] NBC reportedly wanted to test the appeal of hockey,[54] having recently lost the Major League Baseball package to CBS. Shortly thereafter however, NBC would gain the broadcast television rights to the National Basketball Association (NBA) from CBS, thus there was a bit of a notion that NBC no longer really needed hockey.

Marv Albert[55] and John Davidson[56] called the action, while Mike Emrick[57][58] served as an ice-level reporter in 1990.[59][60][61] Meanwhile, Bill Clement served as an ice-level reporter in 1991, 1992[62] and 1994.[63][64]Hockey Night in Canada's Ron MacLean also served as an ice-level reporter, and was the lone correspondent for NBC at the 1993 All-Star Game.[64] For the 1994 All-Star Game, Jim Gray served as correspondent and Brenda Brenon worked on intermission features for the NBC broadcast. As previously mentioned, the 1990 All-Star Game[65] marked the first time since Game 6 of the 1980 Stanley Cup Finals was broadcast on CBS[66][67] that the NHL appeared on American network television.

The Montreal Canadiens were slated to host the 1990 All-Star Game, but the team withdrew their bid to considerations due to the superb hosting by Quebec City of Rendez-vous '87. This had allowed the Pittsburgh Penguins, which wanted to host an All-Star Game in 1993, to move up three years early. For its part, Pittsburgh's organizers added much more to previous games, creating the first "true" All-Star weekend.[68] Firstly was the addition of the Heroes of Hockey[69][70] game, a two-period oldtimers' game between past NHL greats. The second was the addition of the National Hockey League All-Star Skills Competition, a competition between the players invited to the All-Star Game. The Skills competition was created by Paul Palmer, who adapted the Showdown feature seen on Hockey Night in Canada from 1972–73 to 1979–80. All-Star players would be rewarded with US$2,500 for any win in the skills competition.

To accommodate the altered activities, the game itself was played on a Sunday afternoon[71] instead of a Tuesday night, as was the case in previous years. This allowed NBC to air the game live across the United States – marking (surprisingly) the first time that a national audience would see Wayne Gretzky[72] and Mario Lemieux[73] play. Referees and other officials were also wired with microphones in this game, as were the two head coaches. Finally, NBC was also allowed to conduct interviews with players during stoppages in play, to the chagrin of the Hockey Night in Canada crew, whose attempts to do likewise were repeatedly denied by the league in previous years.

In 1991,[74] NBC broke away[75][76] from the telecast in the third period to televise a briefing from The Pentagon involving the Gulf War. SportsChannel America[77][78] included the missing coverage in a replay of NBC's telecast (NBC owned 50%[79][80][81][82] of Rainbow Enterprises, the parent of SportsChannel America).[83]

There were reports[84] about NBC making an arrangement to air four to eight regular season games for the 1992–93 season[85] but nothing materialized. NHL officials had arranged a four- to eight-game, time-buypackage on NBC, but that fell through when the NHL wanted assurance that all NBC affiliates would carry the games (since 2006, NBC has generally gotten all but a couple of affiliates in the Top-50 markets to carry the games). For instance, in 1990, NBC's affiliates in Atlanta (NBC's coverage of the 1992 All-Star Game aired on the independent station WTLK in that market), Charlotte, Memphis, New Orleans, Indianapolis and Phoenixdid not clear the game (Atlanta and Phoenix would eventually receive NHL teams, however the Atlanta franchise relocated to Winnipeg in 2011). Ultimately, roughly 15% of the nation did not have access to the game. As previously mentioned, ABC was the league's network broadcaster instead, and then Fox won a bidding war with CBS for television rights lasting from the 1994–95 through 1998–99 seasons.

2000s

Terms of the deal

File:Nbcnhlpk0.jpg

NHL on NBC logo used from 2005 to 2011.

In May 2004, NBC reached an agreement with the NHL to broadcast a slate of regular season games and the Stanley Cup Finals. The plan called for NBC to air at least six weeks of regular season games (three regional games each week) on Saturday afternoons. In addition, NBC was to show one or two playoff games per weekend during the playoffs. Between two and five games from the Stanley Cup Finals would air in prime time (OLN/Versus received the other two as part of its package). NBC's primary game each week, as well as the Stanley Cup Finals, would air in high definition.

Unlike previous network television deals with the NHL (like Fox, which had the rights from 1994 to 1999 and ABC, which had the rights from 1999 to 2004), NBC paid no upfront rights fee, instead splitting advertising revenue with the league after meeting its own production and distribution costs. On the other hand, the league avoided the arrangement some minor sports leagues have, in which they pay networks for broadcast time and produce their own telecasts, but keep any advertising revenue.

The last time NBC Sports entered a television deal which did not require it to pay any rights fees was in 1994–1995, when the division was involved in the Major League Baseball joint venture called "The Baseball Network." To a lesser extent, NBC also had a similar sort of revenue-sharing agreement with the Arena Football League and, because of their ownership in the XFL, also paid no rights fees for airing that league.

NBC's out-of-market games were available on NHL Center Ice through the 2006–07 season; NBC switched to stand-alone games for the 2007–08 season.

2004–05 NHL lockout

NBC's initial contract with the NHL ran for two years, with an option given to the network to renew for two additional years. NBC's NHL coverage was delayed a year because of the 2004–05 NHL lockout, which wound up cancelling the entire regular season and playoffs.[86] NBC instead, decided to replace five of its scheduled NHL broadcasts with alternate sports programming (such as reruns of NASCAR Year in Review and The Purina Incredible Dog Challenge). NBC also decided to give one of the slots back to local affiliates, some of which filled the time given back to them with infomercials.

2004–05 schedule (all would have been regional games)

Date Teams Start times (All times Eastern)
1/22/05 Philadelphia vs. NY Rangers

Chicago vs. St. Louis
San Jose vs. Colorado

2:00 p.m.

2:00 p.m.
2:00 p.m.

1/29/05 Tampa Bay vs. Boston

Colorado vs. Detroit
Anaheim vs. Minnesota

1:30 p.m.

1:30 p.m.
1:30 p.m.

2/5/05 Chicago vs. Boston

New Jersey vs. Philadelphia
Dallas vs. St. Louis

2:00 p.m.

2:00 p.m.
2:00 p.m.

2/19/05 Philadelphia vs. NY Rangers

Detroit vs. Tampa Bay
Dallas vs. St. Louis

2:00 p.m.

2:00 p.m.
2:00 p.m.

2/26/05 NY Islanders vs. New Jersey

Colorado vs. Philadelphia
San Jose vs. Detroit

1:30 p.m.

1:30 p.m.
1:30 p.m.

4/9/05 NY Rangers vs. Boston

Chicago vs. St. Louis
Anaheim vs. San Jose

2:00 p.m.

2:00 p.m.
5:00 p.m. (would have been seen only in the Pacific Time Zone, Alaska and Hawaii)

2005–06 season

NHL games officially returned to NBC under the new agreement on January 14, 2006, debuting with three regional games (New York Rangers at Detroit Red Wings, Colorado Avalanche at Philadelphia Flyers, and the Dallas Stars at Boston Bruins) to substantial praise among hockey fans and writers, who often compare the television network's presentation to Hockey Night in Canada, which is broadcast in full on the NHL Center Icepackage (although some writers even speculated that NBC's playoff broadcasts were superior to CBC's, largely because of their choice of announcers and the fact that NBC provided HD coverage of games prior to the Finals).

2005–06 schedule (all regional games)
Date Teams Start times (All times Eastern) Commentator crews
1/14/06 NY Rangers vs. Detroit

Colorado vs. Philadelphia
Dallas vs. Boston

2:00 p.m.

2:00 p.m.
2:00 p.m.

Mike Emrick, John Davidson and Pierre McGuire

Dave Strader, Brian Hayward and Joe Micheletti
Chris Cuthbert, Peter McNab and Cammi Granato

1/21/06 Philadelphia vs. Pittsburgh

Detroit vs. Colorado
San Jose vs. Los Angeles

2:00 p.m.

2:00 p.m.
6:00 p.m. (West Coast, Alaska and Hawaii only)

Mike Emrick, John Davidson and Pierre McGuire

Chris Cuthbert, Peter McNab and Cammi Granato
Dave Strader, Brian Hayward and Joe Micheletti

1/28/06 Pittsburgh vs. NY Rangers

Detroit vs. Dallas
Tampa Bay vs. Philadelphia

2:00 p.m.

2:00 p.m.
2:00 p.m.

Mike Emrick, John Davidson and Pierre McGuire

Chris Cuthbert, Peter McNab and Cammi Granato
Dave Strader, Brian Hayward and Joe Micheletti

2/4/06 Detroit vs. Colorado

Dallas vs. St. Louis
NY Islanders vs. Pittsburgh

2:00 p.m.

2:00 p.m.
2:00 p.m.

Mike Emrick, John Davidson and Pierre McGuire

Chris Cuthbert, Peter McNab and Cammi Granato
Dave Strader, Brian Hayward and Joe Micheletti

4/8/06 NY Rangers vs. Boston

Colorado vs. St. Louis
Anaheim vs. Los Angeles

2:00 p.m.

2:00 p.m.
6:00 p.m.

Mike Emrick, John Davidson and Pierre McGuire

Chris Cuthbert, Peter McNab and Cammi Granato
Dave Strader, Brian Hayward and Joe Micheletti

4/15/06 New York Rangers at Philadelphia

Minnesota vs. Dallas
Boston vs. Atlanta

2:00 p.m.

2:00 p.m.
2:00 p.m.

Mike Emrick, John Davidson and Pierre McGuire

Chris Cuthbert, Peter McNab and Cammi Granato
Dave Strader, Brian Hayward and Joe Micheletti

2006–07 season

For the 2006–07 season, NBC broadcast three regional NHL games per weekend of coverage during the regular season. The network also scheduled ten coverage windows during the playoffs (not including the Stanley Cup Finals). The additional broadcasts were expected to replace the Arena Football League, which NBC dropped after the 2006 season. NBC also produced two games per week in high definition, up from one in 2005–06.

The newly titled NHL on NBC Game of the Week returned on January 13, 2007, with three regional games (between the Los Angeles and St. Louis Blues, Boston Bruins and New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers) at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Games started at various times, ranging from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. during the season (this variation primarily resulted from NBC's commitments to the PGA Tour and other programming).

NBC moved its NHL telecasts to Sundays after its season premiere (which occurred on a Saturday) for the final eight dates of the season. The nine weeks of games (totaling 22 regional games) scheduled by the network amounted to the league's most extensive U.S. broadcast television coverage since 1998, during Fox's tenure. A new Sunday Night Football-esque horizontal score banner, designed by Troika Design Group, also debuted during the season.

2006–07 schedule (all regional games)
Date Teams Start times (All times Eastern) Commentator crews
1/13/07 Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia

Boston vs. NY Rangers
Los Angeles vs. St. Louis

2:00 p.m.

2:00 p.m.
2:00 p.m.

Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire

Dave Strader, Brian Hayward and Joe Micheletti
Chris Cuthbert, Peter McNab and Darren Pang

1/28/07 Colorado vs. Detroit

Dallas vs. Anaheim
Philadelphia vs. Atlanta

3:30 p.m.

3:30 p.m.
3:30 p.m.

Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire

Dave Strader, Brian Hayward and Joe Micheletti
Chris Cuthbert, Peter McNab and Darren Pang

2/11/07 Colorado vs. Dallas

Tampa Bay vs. New Jersey
Chicago vs. Columbus

3:30 p.m

3:30 p.m.
3:30 p.m.

Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire

Dave Strader, Brian Hayward and Joe Micheletti
Chris Cuthbert and Peter McNab

2/18/07 Washington vs. Pittsburgh

Chicago vs. NY Rangers
San Jose vs. Dallas

3:30 p.m.

3:30 p.m.
3:30 p.m.

Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire

Dave Strader, Peter McNab and Joe Micheletti
Chris Cuthbert, Brian Hayward and Darren Pang

3/4/07 Colorado vs. Detroit

Philadelphia vs. Pittsburgh

12:30 p.m.

12:30 p.m.

Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire

Dave Strader, Peter McNab and Joe Micheletti

3/11/07 Boston vs. Detroit

Carolina vs. NY Rangers

12:30 p.m.

12:30 p.m.

Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire

Dave Strader, Brian Hayward and Joe Micheletti

3/25/07 Boston vs. Pittsburgh

NY Rangers vs. NY Islanders

12:30 p.m.

12:30 p.m.

Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire

Dave Strader, Brian Hayward and Joe Micheletti

4/1/07 Detroit vs. Columbus

Los Angeles vs. San Jose

12:30 p.m. (seen on all NBC stations in the Eastern, Central and Mountain Time Zones)

6:00 p.m. (West Coast, Alaska and Hawaii)

Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk, Brett Hull and Pierre McGuire

Chris Cuthbert, Brian Hayward and Peter McNab

4/8/07 Buffalo vs. Philadelphia

Chicago vs. Dallas

1:00 p.m.

1:00 p.m.

Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire

Chris Cuthbert, Joe Micheletti and Peter McNab

2007 playoffs controversy

On May 19, 2007, during the Stanley Cup playoffs, NBC angered many fans and journalists when it pre-empted coverage of the overtime period of the tied Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Ottawa Senators and Buffalo Sabres, instead going directly to pre-race coverage of the Preakness Stakes horse race. A typical "Triple Crown" horse racing broadcast generally contains about two hours of pre-race coverage, with the actual races lasting two or three minutes. Coverage of the overtime period was shifted to Versus,[87] the league's cable partner, although viewers in Buffalo and Rochester were able to continue watching the game on local NBC affiliates in the respective markets, WGRZ and WHEC-TV.

The move was originally seen not only as a snub of small-market teams (such as the Sabres), but of hockey in general. However, NBC and the NHL later revealed that the Preakness deal had been made several years before and contained mandatory advertising commitments during the pre-race build-up. Both sides could have agreed that the entire game would air only on Versus or begin earlier in the day, but the NHL wanted at least one Eastern Conference Finals game to air on NBC, and said that it does not schedule with the assumption that games will go into overtime. Moreover, an earlier start time could not be arranged because the broadcast window was fixed in advance, and both the NHL and NBC needed the flexibility to pick the Western Conference Finals for that window if they so desired.

In 2006, NBC televised Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Sabres and the Carolina Hurricanes on the same day as the Preakness. Before the game, Bill Clement advised the audience that in the event that the game went into overtime, it would be televised on Versus, or OLN as it was known at the time. The Sabres won the game in regulation.

NHL on NBC Faceoff

For the 2006–07 season, NBC added an online, broadband-only pregame show to its NHL coverage (similar to what it does with its Notre Dame football coverage). Titled NHL on NBC Countdown to Faceoff, the show airs for a half-hour before every NHL on NBC telecast on NBCSports.com and features a breakdown of upcoming action, as well as reports from the game sites and a feature on an NHL player.

On March 27, 2007, NBC Sports and the NHL agreed to a one-year contract extension with a network option for a second year.

Beginning in 2007–08, NBC incorporated "flex scheduling" for its NHL coverage, similar to NFL broadcasts. Through this method, the league selects at least three potential games at the start of the season for most of NBC's regular-season coverage dates. Thirteen days prior to the game, NBC then selects one to air as its Game of the Week, then the other two games move outside of NBC's broadcast window and return to teams' regional carriers. Since the league made network coverage a priority in the 1990s, regionalized coverage had been the norm; NBC is the first network to attempt to regularly present one game to the entire country. Additionally, studio segments began to originate from the game site instead of 30 Rockefeller Center. All game telecasts also began to be produced in 1080i high definition.

NBC began its 2007–08 schedule on January 1, 2008, with the NHL Winter Classic, an outdoor hockey game between the Buffalo Sabres and Pittsburgh Penguins at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The game went head-to-head with some of the New Year's Day college football bowl games, but none of the feature Bowl Championship Series games. While never expected to beat or directly compete with football ratings, the timing was designed to take advantage of the large audience flipping between channels to watch the different bowl games. It was the first such game to be televised live by an American network and the NHL's first outdoor regular season game since the Edmonton Oilers and Montreal Canadiens played the Heritage Classic, which aired on CBC, which served as the Canadian broadcaster of the 2008 Classic. Although originally maligned as a mere publicity stunt by some in the media, the 2008 Winter Classic drew a 2.6 rating in the U.S. (or about 2.9 million viewers) according to Nielsen, the highest rating for a regular-season contest since February 1996, when Fox was the league's network partner.[88] By comparison, CBS received a 2.7 rating for the Gator Bowl, which also had a 1:00 p.m. start.[89]

Beginning that season, all regular season telecasts air mainly on Sunday afternoons, except for those occurring the day after Thanksgiving and on New Year's Day.

In April 2008, NBC announced the activation of its option to retain broadcasting rights for the 2008–09 season. NBC's scheduling for that year was similar to that which it had during the 2007–08 season (flex scheduling for regular-season games, up to five games of the Stanley Cup Finals – changing in 2009 to include the first two and last three games, among others) except that all (or nearly all) of the Sunday-afternoon games now began at 12:30 p.m. Eastern Time. Coverage again included the Winter Classic outdoor game on January 1, 2009, between the Detroit Red Wings and the Chicago Blackhawks at Wrigley Field.

Teams featured

Regular-season NHL telecasts on NBC itself usually only feature U.S.-based teams. During the Stanley Cup playoffs, broadcasting a game involving a Canadian team might be unavoidable. NBC has the first choice of games and times on its scheduled broadcast dates. The Canadian broadcasters (CBC, TSN, and later Sportsnet) are required to adjust accordingly during the playoffs, even though they pay the league substantial rights fees and NBC, until its most recent contract extension, did not.

There have been a few exceptions to this policy since 2006; in 2008, the Montreal Canadiens became the first Canadian team featured on the NHL on NBC during the regular season (NBC Sports' Dick Ebersol was rumored to have specifically wanted to do a game from Montreal at some point). The Canadiens played the New York Rangers on February 3. The 2014 NHL Winter Classic also featured a Canadian team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, up against the Detroit Red Wings at Michigan Stadium. Due to the revamp of the league's conferences and divisions that season, the cross-border rivalry had become an interdivisional one with the Wings' move to the Eastern Conference. The 2016 NHL Winter Classic will have the Montreal Canadiens facing the Boston Bruins in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The Boston/Montreal rivalry is generally considered the fiercest in the NHL; in fact, there were rumblings that if Montreal were not Boston's opponent in the 2016 Classic that Boston would relinquish the game.

NBCSN will occasionally feature Canadian teams during the regular season, but primarily only the Canadiens and the Maple Leafs, and only if they are playing a U.S.-based team. The NHL Heritage Classic matchups are the only all-Canadian regular season games that NBCSN has broadcast.

Like its predecessors, NBC frequently chooses games with a focus on about six teams: New York Rangers, Detroit Red Wings, Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston Bruins, and most recently the Washington Capitals and Chicago Blackhawks. The relation has very little correlation with team success; for instance, the Anaheim Ducks won the Stanley Cup in 2007, and the Buffalo Sabres made it to the conference finals in both 2006 and 2007. Those teams received one and two potential games respectively in the 2008 season, compared to the seven potential games given to the Rangers and the four games which could include the rival Philadelphia Flyers.[90] There also is significant emphasis on the Flyers; that franchise is a subsidiary of Spectacor, a majority-owned subsidiary of NBC parent company Comcast, making its favored status a conflict of interest(specifically self-dealing), especially since Comcast has become the exclusive national television broadcaster of the NHL in the United States. None of the other three major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada currently have any such conflict between their team owners and broadcasters, since they have at least two separate national broadcasters (Buffalo has fared better in its number of NBCSNappearances, due in part to the channel's relatively high viewership in the Buffalo market).[91]

The most frequently cited reasons for this relative lack of diversity are low ratings in a market (such as for Anaheim, which competes with the older Los Angeles Kings in its market) and market size (such as for Buffalo, where hockey ratings are the highest in the league, but the market itself is the smallest of any American NHL team).

On some occasions, NBCSN will add select games to air other than those already scheduled during the season. The 'bonus games' have featured teams that are covered locally on Comcast SportsNet (such as the Philadelphia Flyers, Washington Capitals, Chicago Blackhawks or the San Jose Sharks), with the NHL on NBC studio team taking care of pregame, intermission and postgame reports. Such broadcasts also apply in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The network also airs a simulcast of games aired in Canada on Sportsnet (both national and regional), CBC and TSN.

Examples of the above trends could be found in NBC Sports' national schedule for the 2015-16 regular season. In a press release announcing this schedule, NBC stated that "every U.S. team will appear on NBC or NBCSN in the regular season",[92] but an analysis compiled by Yahoo! Sports noted the following:[93]

  • Five US teams (the Arizona Coyotes, Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets, Florida Panthers, and New Jersey Devils) will only make 1 appearance each, while the Montreal Canadiens will make 6 total appearances.
  • The top teams that make the most national appearances in 2015-16 are the Chicago Blackhawks (21), Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers (tied at 18), Detroit Red Wings (16), and New York Rangers (13). The Flyers are tied for second despite missing the playoffs during the previous season.
  • The Anaheim Ducks, who advanced to the conference finals during the previous season, will only make 4 appearances, while the Los Angeles Kings and the San Jose Sharks, who both missed the playoffs, will appear 10 and 11 times, respectively.
  • Despite drafting top prospect Connor McDavid with the first pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, the Edmonton Oilers will only make 1 appearance. The Toronto Maple Leafs will also make 1 appearance, despite hiring former long time Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock. The four other Canadian teams (Calgary Flames, Ottawa Senators, Vancouver Canucks, and Winnipeg Jets), who did each advance to the playoffs during the previous season, will not appear.

Innovations

Some of the innovations that NBC has brought for its NHL telecasts include putting a star clock underneath the scoreboard at the top of the screen. During each game, NBC takes one player from each team and clocks how long that player is out on the ice each time he comes out for a shift. In addition, goalies like Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury may wear cameras inside their masks, much like Fox asks catchers to do for its Major League Baseball game broadcasts. NBC also puts one of its analysts in-between the two teams' benches for what it calls "Inside the Glass" reporting, which was later emulated by sister network Comcast SportsNet, CBC and TSN. In addition to providing color commentary, this allows the analyst to observe and report on the benches, as well as interviewing the coaches periodically.

2010s

NBC renewed its rights to the NHL for the 2010-11 season. The network broadcast schedule continued to include the Winter Classic, Sunday-afternoon games at 12:30 p.m. Eastern Time, six weekends of playoff action, and broadcasts of Games 1, 2, 5, 6 and 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

On February 20, 2011, NBC introduced Hockey Day in America[94] – patterned after the CBC's Hockey Day in Canada, it featured eight of the most popular American teams in regional games: the Washington Capitals at the Buffalo Sabres, the Philadelphia Flyers at the New York Rangers, and the Detroit Red Wings at the Minnesota Wild, followed by the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Chicago Blackhawks for the national nightcap. The Flyers-Rangers game was aired in the majority of the country, while the Sabres-Capitals game was only seen in the Buffalo and Washington, D.C. markets; as was the Red Wings-Wild game in their respective markets. The tripleheader would be completed with the 2011 Heritage Classic, for which viewers were redirected to Versus.

2011: New contract, new synergy

On April 19, 2011, after ESPN, Turner Sports and Fox Sports placed bids, NBC Sports announced it had reached a ten-year extension to its television contract with the NHL (through the 2020–21 season) worth nearly $2 billion over the tenure of the contract. The contract would cover games on both NBC and sister cable channel Versus,[95] which became part of the NBC Sports family as the result of Versus parent Comcast's controlling purchase of NBC Universal earlier in 2011. In relation to the contract's announcement, Versus would receive a new name to reflect its synergy with NBC Sports; the channel rebranded as NBC Sports Network[96] on January 2, 2012[97] (it would later be abbreviated on-air and then officially shortened to NBCSN); NHL coverage on Versus would begin to be produced identically to NBC's NHL coverage beginning in the 2011–12 season, leading up to the brand change.

The terms of the deal included:[98]

  • A rights fee of roughly US$200 million per year for the combined cable and broadcast rights, nearly triple that of the previous contract;[99]
  • Increased weekly regular season coverage on Versus/NBCSN (as many as 90 games per season on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights), with Sunday night games also being added by the channel later in the season.
  • Rights to an annual "Thanksgiving Showdown" game airing on NBC the day after Thanksgiving ("Black Friday" afternoon) (the 2012 edition was cancelled due to the 2012–13 NHL lockout). The November broadcast is the earliest an NHL regular season game has aired on a broadcast television network in the U.S. since the 1950s, when the league still only had six teams. The 2013 "Thanksgiving Showdown" game featured the Boston Bruins hosting the New York Rangers; it was widely expected that Boston will remain the home team in future years and launch a holiday tradition for the league and network (Boston has hosted matinee games the day after Thanksgiving since the 1980s), much like Detroit and Dallas traditionally host National Football League games on Thanksgiving Day; however, NBC decided to end this tradition for the 2014-15 season, with a Black Friday matinee between the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers being aired instead, while Boston held a locally televised game on the evening of Black Friday in 2014.[100] Boston resumed hosting the game in 2015, with a second Black Friday game (Chicago at Anaheim) airing later in the afternoon on NBCSN.
  • Continued coverage on NBC of the NHL Winter Classic, to be played on New Year's Day unless that day lands on a Sunday, in which case the game is moved to January 2 (despite the open time slot on Sunday afternoons, NBC is effectively forbidden via a gentleman's agreement with the NFL which prevents any form of strong counterprogramming against NFL games televised on CBS and Fox). Initially the Classic was expected to be played in primetime, however to date every game has been scheduled for a 1 PM ET start, and due to new competition from the College Football Playoff the game is now expected to remain a daytime game for the foreseeable future. NBC has instead opted to air one prime time game each year, later in the season, since 2014.
  • A national "Game of the Week" continuing on NBC as in previous years, beginning each January (January is the start month due to NBC's contract with the NFL).
  • Hockey Day in America becoming a permanent annual part of the NBC schedule.
  • Rights to any future Heritage Classics, which would be aired on NBCSN.
  • Digital rights across all platforms for any games broadcast by NBC or NBCSN.
  • Increased coverage of Stanley Cup Playoff games,[101] with all playoff games airing nationally on NBC, NBCSN, CNBC, USA and NHL Network.[102] Local sports networks can carry their teams' first-round games, but any games on NBC, and any NBC cable games from the second round onward, will be exclusive to NBC.
  • Continued sharing of the Stanley Cup Final on NBC (which will air Games 1, 2, 5, 6, and 7) and NBCSN (Games 3 and 4). The deal gives NBC the option of moving Games 3 and 4 to the broadcast network. During the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals, NBC aired Games 1, 4, 5, 6 and 7 while NBCSN aired Games 2 and 3.

Currently, NHL regular season games on NBC are exclusive to the network. While most NHL games on NBCSN are exclusive (such as Wednesday Night Rivalry), other games carried by the network may be blacked outregionally in favor of television stations or regional sports networks which hold the local broadcast rights to an NHL franchise.

In the 2012–13 season, Wednesday night games on NBCSN were rebranded as Wednesday Night Rivalry, primarily featuring rivalry games. For the 2013–14 season, NBC Sports introduced the series NHL Rivals, which looks back at the participating teams' historic rivalry leading up to the featured Wednesday Night Rivalry game.

Beginning in the 2014-15 season, TSN Hockey personalities Bob McKenzie, Darren Dreger and Chris Cuthbert joined the NHL on NBC team. This was the result of Rogers Media's - the owners of Sportsnet - exclusive 12-year deal with the NHL in Canada replacing both TSN and CBC Sports as the rightsholders to the NHL.

In 2015, NBC Sports partnered with the league to expand Kraft Hockeyville into the United States. The annual contest, in which communities compete to demonstrate their commitment to ice hockey, with the winning community being awarded the opportunity to host a nationally televised NHL preseason game, was first held across Canada in 2006. Similar to what CBC Sports had done in covering Kraft Hockeyville in Canada, NBC Sports began airing regular segments on the separate Hockeyville USA competition for communities in the U.S. On September 29, 2015, NBCSN aired the inaugural Kraft Hockeyville USA game at Cambria County War Memorial Arena, Johnstown, Pennsylvania, marking the first time that the NHL on NBC televised a preseason game since it acquired the American rights in 2005.

2005-2012

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in 2005 NBC started broadcasting the NHL on their network also broadcasting in on OLN in 05-06 and on versus 06-12 now NBCSN and broadcasted on CNBC during the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds of the playoffs. The conference final and cup final would be broadcasted on regular NBC and Versus until 2012 when NBCSN was introduced during the 2012 Winter Classic between the NY Rangers and Philadelphia on January,2nd,2012. also Comcast in 2011 purchased NBCUNIVERSAL therefore buying NBC and versus. so in late 2011 NBC announced during their versus NHL telecasts that versus was becoming NBC Sports Network (now called NBCSN as of 2013-14). Also, coverage on NBC and Versus/NBCSN are sponsored by companies such as Dodge (2006-2009), Verizon (2005-2011), and Discover 2011-present

2012-present

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