If you know anything about hockey, even the smallest amount, no one needs to tell you about the tradition of Hockey Night in Canada. What began on radio 89 years ago has become a staple in Canadian households as people young and old gather around their TVs to watch their favourite teams on Saturday night. The NHL released its schedule for the first round of the playoffs today and, sadly, none of the three Canadian teams left in the playoffs will be featured on the iconic television program in the first round.
"I rarely, if ever, criticize my former employers," said hockey insider John Shannon on Twitter. "But I am so disappointed in both Rogers and the NHL for not respecting the tradition of Saturday Night for [Hockey Night in Canada]. Surely there could have been some thought to putting 1 of the 3 remaining Canadian teams in that familiar window."
It's tough to disagree with that statement. While dates and times have been released for just the first four games of each series so far, game two and three of the Montreal vs Philadelphia series, the Calgary and Dallas series, and the Vancouver vs St. Louis series will take place Friday and Sunday respectively. So what gives?
According to some rumblings on Twitter, the NHL's broadcasting deal with NBCSN ends after this season and the league is likely trying to ensure American teams get as much ratings as possible to ensure another deal comes to fruition. Even if that is truly the case, it seems sad that no Canadian teams will be featured on the broadcast named for this country.
While times have not yet been determined, should seven games be required in any series involving the Canadian teams, only Calgary and Dallas will be featured on Hockey Night in Canada. It's a very good possibility that no Canadian team will play during Hockey Night in Canada in the first round.