Gary Bettman Has a Hangover
Or at least, I imagine Gary Bettman has had a hangover. Team USA and Team Canada both being eliminated from the men's ice hockey tournament in the Olympics yesterday (and not being in medal contention) probably does not make the NHL commissioner very happy. I'm sure he could have lived with Team Canada not advancing--after all, the Canadians will continue to watch NHL hockey regardless. But losing Team USA means that any chance to get new fans to watch NHL hockey (or reclaim old ones) is gone.
Of course, NBC certainly has not been promoting the hockey games in this Olympics. It is great that they show them live, but since most people aren't home at 11 a.m. on a weekday, they probably don't have much viewership. It would have been ideal if they could have rerun those games in a primetime slot on CNBC, MSNBC, or one of their other stations.
For those who haven't watched, try to catch a game or two in the next week. Olympic ice hockey is amazing--the ice is bigger than in the NHL, so the game is very fast. And you have the very best players in the world in one place. The player to watch is Alex Ovechkin, Team Russia's number 8, a 20 year old who plays center for the Washington Capitals. In my 25 or so years of watching hockey, he is the most exciting player I have seen. He's very fast, and his puck-handling is phenomenal.
The Winter Olympics its definitely my favorite television event, just edging out its more popular summer counterpart. Between figure skating (the costumes! the drama (did anyone see the Italian ice dancers?)!), hockey, skiing, speed skating and my new favorite event, the snowboard cross, it is all excitement, all the time.