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Saturday, June 11, 2005

nhl- Big TV deal a pipe Dream

from the Buffalo News, National Hockey League owners better accept the fact that their sport is never going to provide them with big national television bucks. Now more than ever.
I first wrote the above statement in June 1992, but it is as valid today as it was 13 years ago. The 1992 column explained the main problem succinctly:
"Hockey is a regional sport with limited television appeal because it is difficult to see the puck and because it is difficult to see players before they join the league. Rookies in the National Football League and the NBA often get three or four years of television exposure during their college days. Most Americans hadn't heard of Mario Lemieux, Pierre Turgeon or Eric Lindros until a few months before the NHL draft."
You can change the names and the assessment would be pretty much the same today, and there is no reason to believe it will change in our lifetime. Living so close to Canada, Western New Yorkers tend to have an inflated view of how important hockey is to the rest of the nation.
It isn't quite as inflated as the rosy view of Larry Quinn, the Buffalo Sabres managing partner, who believes the NHL can eventually get a rights fee of $400 million a year.
The chances of that happening are about equal to the chances that the Sabres and the Bills will win a Stanley Cup and a Super Bowl in the same year. The proposed addition of a shootout to decide tie games will make for exciting TV - for about five or 10 minutes.
Quinn made that statement while discussing the Sabres' lack of concern over ESPN's decision to drop its option to carry NHL games next season for $60 million a year. That figure was half of the $120 million that ESPN and its bigger brother, ABC, had paid in the previous deal. ESPN apparently is willing to pay $30 million....continued...