Wednesday, August 25, 2010

NHL unveils 2010-2011 national television schedule

Ever since the 2008-2009 regular season schedule was unveiled on July 15th, fans have waited to see how the national television schedule would take shape. Now we have a clear view of what it looks like.

Earlier today, the National Hockey League made the announcement on their official web site with a breakdown of schedules for each of the network carriers.

Over 300 games will be televised nationally as all 30 teams will make at least one appearance during the 2010-2011 season on either NBC, CBC, Le Réseau des Sports (RDS), Versus or The Sports Network (TSN).

The NHL Network plans to show 75 games in the United States and 40 across Canada. No full broadcast schedule has been finalized for both the NHL Network and NBC, but will be announced soon.

Here is the breakdown of what is in store for each of the national television broadcasters...

After signing a new six-year broadcasting contract with the NHL on June 3, 2008, TSN will show 70 games during the 2008-2009 regular season, all in high definition. They provide a complete list of the NHL on TSN games that are on tap and even have a brief video to preview it. With the launch of TSN 2 on August 29, 2008, games may also been seen there on what was called the TSN "alternate feed". This would especially be the case during days of doubleheader coverage when the first game may not end before the second game is scheduled to begin. For the first time in 10 years, TSN will also show preseason games this fall with each of the six Canadian NHL teams each making one appearance.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) has 69 games planned for their regular season Hockey Night in Canada coverage, including 25 of them being all-Canadian matchups. The network that has traditionally shown NHL games on Saturday nights for over 50 years will have a new theme song after CBC's broadcast rights to its very famous predecessor had expired. CTVglobemedia, Inc. acquired the rights to "The Hockey Theme" on June 9, 2008. As a result, TSN and RDS will now feature the song in their NHL broadcasts starting this fall. CTVglobemedia owns Canadian Television (CTV) and a share of TSN and RDS. "The Hockey Theme" will also be featured during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver.

Speaking of RDS, the French-language broadcast network will show all 82 Montréal Canadiens games across all of Canada. They will also showcase for Francophone viewers the 57th NHL All-Star Game in Montréal on January 25, 2009 as part of the Canadiens' centennial season anniversary celebration. CBC and Versus will show the game for Anglophone viewers.

Versus will broadcast 56 games in their fourth season of national cable television coverage in the United States, including October 5, 2008 when the second day of two NHL Premiere games in Europe are played. The New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning square off in Prague, Czech Republic while the Ottawa Senators and Pittsburgh Penguins play in Stockholm, Sweden. In addition to their full list of games they plan to air, Tom Layberger highlighted what he felt was his top 13 games to watch.

American viewers will have NBC once again provide over-the-air national television contests starting on New Year's Day with no fewer than 10 games in 2009. The second edition of the Winter Classic kicks off their fourth season of coverage with an Original Six matchup between the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings and the Chicago Blackhawks from Wrigley Field in Chicago. CBC and RDS will show the game for Canadian viewers. The Rangers and Penguins face off in Pittsburgh during NBC's second broadcast of the season scheduled for January 18, 2009. The remaining 8 games in the following 10 Sundays are "flex games" in which the league and NBC will finalize which games they'll show on those days.

Regardless, you'll have plenty of hockey to watch during the 2008-2009 season. Go get NHL Center Ice if you really want to be a couch potato and make sure you have the television schedule in front of you so you can keep up.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

New Jersey Devils to send AHL and ECHL affiliate teams to Atlantic City for 5 games

Earlier today, the New Jersey Devils announced they will send their two minor league teams to Atlantic City for a combined five games during the upcoming 2010-2011 season.

The American Hockey League's Albany Devils will play four regular season contests at Boardwalk Hall (formerly the Atlantic City Convention Hall) and the ECHL's Trenton Devils will play one game there against the Wheeling Nailers.

The four opponents the Albany Devils face will be the Adirondack Phantoms, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, the defending Calder Cup champion Hershey Bears and the Norfolk Admirals.

The Press of Atlantic City was the first news source to confirm the scheduled games after a news conference was held inside Boardwalk Hall to make the announcement. New Jersey Devils owner Jeff Vanderbeek and general manager Lou Lamoriello were on hand along with state and local dignitaries.

New Jersey Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello, New Jersey lieutenant governor Kim Guadagno and Devils owner Jeff Vanderbeek at today's press conference.
(image courtesy: Danny Drake/The Press of Atlantic City)

"Bringing these games to Atlantic City is a positive family friendly addition to the region and will provide southern New Jersey hockey fans a chance to see one of the state's many great sporting teams - the New Jersey Devils hockey teams development squad," New Jersey lieutenant governor Kim Guadagno said. "I am glad I could be a part of today's announcement and hope to see more creative public-private ventures like this one developing in Atlantic City in the coming months."

The objective of holding these games in Atlantic City was made clear from Vanderbeek himself.

"We are not North Jersey's team, we are not Central Jersey's team and we are certainly not the team in the strip of land between New York and Philadelphia," Vanderbeek said during the press conference. "This is New Jersey's team and we really need to and want to embrace everybody from this state. We really want to expand our reaches."

Last winter, the Atlantic City Convention and Visitors Authority finalized an agreement with Caesars Atlantic City to bring the games to Boardwark Hall, an historic venue that opened in 1929. Lamoriello had made a tour of the facility in April and was impressed. It later led to joining a partnership to hold the event.

"I was really rather flabbergasted," Lamoriello told MSG Network's Anthony Fucilli. "It was an easy decision."

An announcement was made last year that Boardwalk Hall would be the host venue to the 2011, 2012 and 2013 ECAC Hockey men's championship.

New Jersey Devils radio play-by-play announcer Matt Loughlin, team owner Jeff Vanderbeek and general manager Lou Lamoriello express the significance of having five minor league games in Atlantic City for the organization.
(video courtesy: NHL Productions)

Two Sports Blog Nation hockey writers provided their thoughts as to what these five games could mean for the future of hockey in the Garden State.

Travis Hughes of Broad Street Hockey brought up the territorial issue of what regional team South Jersey sports fans support most. His blog entry headline "Devils invade Flyers country..." couldn't be more clear.

"Atlantic City, Atlantic County and the Southern Jersey Shore, as you may know, sits deeply in the Philadelphia media market and is certainly considered Flyers territory," Hughes wrote. "There are Devils fans here, to be sure, but anybody telling you that this area is anything but orange and black is lying to your face."

Understood. It is widely known that the state of New Jersey has been viewed as being split in two for the sports media coverage and sports fan loyalties to the two major cities it's adjacent to. The northern half has been considered for New York City with primarily the southern half for Philadelphia. When it comes to television markets, the Big Apple has its reach go as far south as Ocean County. But the Devils continue to have the challenge of building a large fan base in New Jersey with the presence of their nearby Atlantic Division rivals in the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers.

Boardwalk Hall is located 54 miles southeast of Philadelphia (specificly the Wells Fargo Center). But communities situated on the northwest side of the Atlantic City area do fall within the Philadelphia Flyers broadcast territory, that according to the National Hockey League Constitution.

Hughes acknowledged Vanderbeek's marketing strategy.

"This whole thing seems like the part of a larger strategy for the Devils. Along with their Jersey's Team marketing slogan, which debuted two seasons ago, they're certainly making a concerted effort to expand their reach outside of North and Central Jersey. If they were to move their farm team to South Jersey and get involved in the local hockey community - the rink in AC, by the way, is the Flyers Skate Zone - there's no disputing they could develop a fan base here. Vanderbeek knows that."

But a very fair question raised by Hughes was if the Devils have the intention of trying to place a minor league affiliate in Atlantic City sometime down the road.

"It really does seem like they're interested. The key word in that sentence is interested, of course, and there's no guarantee that these five games will be successful here," Hughes said. "After all, the ECHL's Boardwalk Bullies won a Kelly Cup in 2003 and wound up leaving town just two years later. Bad marketing and poor attendance did them in."

John Fischer of In Lou We Trust believes it is far too early to draw that conclusion either.

"I'm not really convinced," Fischer said. "The Devils are in Albany for the next 5 seasons; and as far as I know, there's no rumblings about the Devils wanting to move Trenton. I'm not sure how going from Trenton to Atlantic City would be an improvement, Trenton is in 'Flyers Country' as much as AC as far as I know. Plus, a lot can happen in 5 seasons. Who knows, perhaps Albany takes to this version of the Devils' AHL affiliate and gives them reason to stay there longer?"

However, the Devils are more focused on efforts to showcase the sport to new fans, not re-locating their minor league teams. At the same time, Vanderbeek hopes this event can provide an overall boost to the city's economy. One idea has the Devils possibly sponsoring rinks and youth teams in southern New Jersey.

New Jersey Devils owner Jeff Vanderbeek announces his two minor league affiliates will play 5 games at Boardwalk Hall during the upcoming 2010-2011 season.
(image courtesy: Danny Drake/The Press of Atlantic City)

"We really look forward to coming down here and playing these games. We hope this is the start of something very big," Vanderbeek said. "I was able to see the re-birth the first time of Atlantic City because the casinos opened up a year and a half later. We really hope we're a part of a new renaissance here that really allows for entertainment for all walks of life."

Lamoriello also sees this as a new opportunity for the organization. He explained how this event came together.

"For us, it's a different experience. And also we tried very hard to work with the American Hockey League to get teams from the local area," he said. "For example, in playing Adirondack and playing Wheeling and playing Wilkes-Barre. So it was something that we tried to get all fans coming together."

(video courtesy: MSG Network)

The New Jersey Devils will have their AHL affiliate back in Albany, New York after a four-year absence. They originally ran the Albany River Rats from 1994 to 2006 before the Carolina Hurricanes became the parent club through last season. The River Rats just relocated to Charlotte, North Carolina to become the AHL's Charlotte Checkers. The Albany Devils took their place in New York State's Capital District with their arrival from Lowell, Massachusetts.

After the Trenton Titans entered the ECHL in 1996, the minor league franchise would later be purchased by the New Jersey Devils and become their new ECHL affiliate. With the Sun National Bank Center as their home arena, they've been the Trenton Devils since May 18, 2007.

Guadagno is responsible for promoting tourism across New Jersey. She told those that attended the press conference how much hockey has had an impact on her as well, including the formation of friendships over the years. She has a son who plays youth hockey in Red Bank, New Jersey.

"I know certainly my family has made friends for life and I'm proud to be here to stand up with the Devils," she said. "I'm almost amazed to be standing up here with the Devils six months into my tenure as the lieutenant governor to tell you how grateful we are for this sport of hockey."

If the five games are well attended, the New Jersey Devils will attempt to schedule a 2011 NHL preseason game in Atlantic City.

Lamoriello added, "Anytime you can spread hockey throughout the state or anywhere, we have to be excited about it."

Tom Gulitti of The Bergen Record originally reported on this news story four days ago and now has provided the list of the scheduled games (start times are in Eastern Time).

Albany Devils (AHL)
December 5, 2010 - vs. Adirondack, 4:00 PM
December 12, 2010 - vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, 4:00 PM
February 4, 2011 - vs. Hershey, 7:00 PM
February 27, 2011 - vs. Norfolk, 4:00 PM

Trenton Devils (ECHL)
January 23, 2011 - vs. Wheeling, 4:00 PM


New Jersey Devils official news release (August 24):
Devils development teams take to the ice at Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall

American Hockey League official news release (August 24):
Devils to play four games in Atlantic City

Trenton Devils official news release (August 24):
Devils in Atlantic City

The Bergen Record's Fire & Ice blog (August 24):
Albany Devils and Trenton Devils to play games in Atlantic City

In Lou We Trust (August 24):
Albany Devils to play 4 games in Atlantic City in 2010-2011; Trenton Devils to play 1

Broad Street Hockey (August 24):
Devils invade Flyers country, bring five minor-league games to Atlantic City

The Press of Atlantic City's sports page (August 25):
Devils may see a future with shot on Boardwalk in Atlantic City

Thursday, August 19, 2010

CBC to air 10 AHL games during 2010-2011 season

If you are a fan that feels Saturday nights aren't enough to satisfy your craving for hockey all weekend long, then the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has listened.

You don't have just Hockey Night in Canada broadcasts of National Hockey League games on your viewing schedule anymore.

Entering its 75th anniversary season, The American Hockey League announced earlier today that it has finalized a broadcasting agreement for select 2010-2011 regular season games to air on CBC for 10 Sunday afternoons.

"We're tremendously excited that CBC, with its distinguished excellence in hockey broadcasting, will be helping us celebrate our historic 75th anniversary this season," AHL president and chief executive officer David Andrews said. "Viewers across Canada will be treated to the skill and excitement of the best young professionals in our sport."

CBC Sports executive director Scott Moore echoed the same sentiments.

"We're looking forward to featuring the stars of hockey's future with the AHL on CBC," Moore said.

The 10 games will feature teams affiliated with one of the six Canadian-based NHL teams. They are the Abbotsford Heat, Binghamton Senators, Hamilton Bulldogs, Manitoba Moose, Oklahoma City Barons and Toronto Marlies.

The first game on the AHL on CBC schedule will be on October 17th when Toronto hosts Binghamton at 1:00 PM Eastern Time from Ricoh Coliseum.

All games will be streamed live and also available on-demand at

AHL on CBC 2010-2011 Broadcast Schedule
(game start times are in Eastern Time)

October 17 – Binghamton at Toronto, 1:00 PM
October 24 – Oklahoma City at Hamilton, 1:00 PM
November 21 – Hamilton at Toronto, 1:00 PM
December 12 – Toronto at Hamilton, 1:00 PM
January 16 – Toronto at Abbotsford, 2:00 PM
January 23 – Abbotsford at Manitoba, 1:00 PM
February 27 – Manitoba at Toronto, 1:00 PM
March 6 – Hamilton at Toronto, 1:00 PM
March 27 – Abbotsford at Manitoba, 1:00 PM
April 3 – Manitoba at Toronto, 1:00 PM


American Hockey League official news release (August 19):
CBC to air 10 AHL games in 2010-2011

CBC Sports' hockey page (August 19):
CBC, AHL strike broadcast deal

Abbotsford Heat official news release (August 19):
HEAT to play on CBC

Binghamton Senators official news release (August 19):
B-Sens featured on CBC's "AHL on CBC"

Hamilton Bulldogs official news release (August 19):
Four 'Dogs games to be broadcast live on CBC

Manitoba Moose official news release (August 19):
Moose to play as part of "AHL on CBC"

Oklahoma City Barons official news release (August 19):
Barons featured on CBC broadcast

Toronto Marlies official news release (August 19):
7 Marlies games to be broadcast live on CBC

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Ducks to unveil latest alternate jersey on November 26th

It has been speculated for a while and now the Anaheim Ducks made rumor into fact.

During pregame warmups of their November 26th home game against the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks, the Ducks will unveil a brand new alternate jersey. It will be the fourth alternate jersey in team history and the first one under the current brand.

"After introducing a new name, logo and colors to our fans four years ago, we felt it important to give our original look due time to establish itself in the market," Ducks vice president of sales and marketing Bob Wagner said in the team's news release. "At this point, we're excited to introduce an additional look for the team in 2010-2011, one we feel confident our fans will embrace."

Coinciding with the ownership change in which Henry and Susan Samueli bought the team from the Walt Disney Company where they were called the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, a new color scheme and uniforms were implemented on June 22, 2006. Gone was the famous duck billed mask and crossed hockey sticks logo. No more eggplant, jade and silver. Instead, it would be black, metallic gold and white as the main colors with orange as an accent color (to represent Orange County) as part of the re-branding. The use of an "Anaheim Ducks" wordmark graced the front of the new jerseys with the letter D in the shape of a duck's footprint.

So what will the new alternate jersey look like. There are no hints of its design, but according to the Ducks, it will put an alternative spin on the tradition colors and logo and be a tribute to its past.