I have said it for quite a few years, and I’ll say it again. The National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup Playoffs will forever be the best playoff format in sports. Regardless of how both NBC and NBC Sports coordinate their schedule, it’s the most exciting 60 minutes in sports.
The St. Louis Blues held a 3-games-to-1 series lead over the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks going into Game 5 last night at United Center in Chicago. The Blackhawks avoided elimination with a wild and crazy 4-3 double overtime win.
During Game 5, Comcast SportsNet Chicago television was being simulcasted on NBC Sports Network for a national audience. Three of the five games have started at 8:42pm Central time. Following an intermission halfway through the third period, CSN Chicago’s Pat Foley expressed an extreme annoyance about these games’ late starts. Here’s the transcript of what Foley said if you can’t hear him in the video:
“…We’ve had a tremendous series between two great teams here. And it has been compelling theater: The two teams have been tied or one-goal games 96 percent of the time so far. But this is the third time in five games that a start time of 8:42 [p.m.] local was mandated.
I can say with certainty: Players can not stand these late starts. Coaches can not stand them. Most importantly, the fans can’t stand them.
“So as we approach midnight – AGAIN – on a work night, a school night, a simple question: An 8:42 puck drop …”
NBC Sports Network cut off Foley mid-sentence to air a commercial instead of letting him continue his rant over the air. NBCSN studio analyst Mike Millbury shot some straight fire after hearing Foley’s comments, though he was referring to the start of Game 6 at 7pm Central:
“You know what? If that’s too late for certain announcers, I think they should just let someone else call the game, and stay home and get a good night’s rest, because 8 o’clock it is. We do that so we can get everybody involved, and all the games on. Lots of games and we do a good job showing them.”
Was it a good dig at Foley? Absolutely. I laughed pretty hard. However, I can sympathize with Foley. These late starts that accommodate the big network schedules are taxing on everyone involved. That includes players, coaches, executives, fans, and many more. This is not a single team’s problem. This is what happens when networks pay BIG money for exclusive broadcasting rights.
Sometimes you just have to suck it up because there’s nearly nothing you can do about it. You COULD do what I do, if you can’t stay up that late: watch the highlights in the morning right before you sip that coffee, or drink that Red Bull (please, no vodka) or 5-Hour Energy to jump-start your day.
I side with NBC Sports Network. They pay the money in hopes of grasping the biggest possible audience. Is one regional announcer going to be the difference between good and bad ratings for the nation’s best sports playoff format? You have to pull your head out of the sand if you think so.
My message to Mr. Foley, and I give him two options: chug some of your venti iced caramel macchiato and drop the puck, or get someone else to do your job. Plain and simple. #FirstWorldProblems