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May 14, 2009 4:30 PM

NHL Finds Another Way to Mess It Up

The NHL Playoffs have been nothing short of amazing (to borrow from their counterpart's commercials) - some would say they're even better than the NBA's postseason, and I would agree.

The games and series, for the most part, have been closer and more intense. True, there was no Celtics-Bulls series, but there also hasn't been a Hawks-Heat series in the NHL, either. Head slaps do not result in suspensions; in fact, elbows to the face and right-hooks to the eye socket do not result in suspensions either. Just fines (and some bruises). And while everyone was so busy waiting and hoping for their Kobe-LeBron match up, they were missing an even better battle on the ice, with Sidney Crosy and Alex Ovechkin, arguably the two best players in the world, living up to all the pre-series hype, and then some.

Hockey has also already given us three Game 7's, and, for my money, a game seven on ice is the best there is (last night being an exception to that rule, clearly). Now, with two final, dramatic Game 7's tonight - both hosted by one of the Original Six - coming just 24 hours after the league's best squared-off in their own seventh game, the NHL is set to announce loudly that it is back, and it is better than ever.

Uh...not quite. You see, the NHL has scheduled Anaheim-Detroit at 7pm, and Carolina-Boston at 8pm, both set to air on Versus (the one with all the bull riding). So, if you're a Bruins or Canes fan not living near either city, and want to watch, you have to wait for the Ducks-Wings contest to end (better hope for no overtime!), or plop down $19.95 and watch it online. Way to welcome back the fans, Gary Bettman.

For U.S. hockey fans who live outside the local Carolina and Boston viewing areas, Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinal between the Hurricanes and Bruins Thursday at 8 p.m. ET is available live on NHL Center Ice and NHL GameCenter LIVE. Please call your cable, satellite or telephone provider for details on how to order Center Ice. Or to watch online with NHL GameCenter LIVE, visit nhl.com/gamecenter.
As Brian Powell at Awful Announcing points out, this is a terrible move for a league that needs all the help it can get. "You would think with all of the bad press that the NHL has gotten over recent years, and more recently about games on Versus, that they would make tonight's game available for nothing. Other leagues seem to pull this off just fine. Just another great move in the legacy that is Bettman."

I have never been the commissioner of any sports league. I am an editor for a sports website. But even I can see that the easy answer was:

  • Start Canes-Bruins at 7pm EST, on Versus, for the whole country, for free
  • Start Wings-Ducks at 9:30pm EST (why, exactly, is the game that features a Midwest team and a West Coast team dropping the puck at 7pm? I'm sure Ducks fans are pumped for the 4pm start time), on Versus, for the whole country, for free
  • If Canes-Bruins goes into OT, run Wings-Ducks online, for the whole country, for free

  • If Simmons gets to be the Wolves' GM, I want to be the NHL Commissioner.

    'Canes-Bruins to be on Center Ice, NHL GameCenter - NHL.com
    Most Of America Can Only Watch One Game Seven Tonight - Awful Announcing

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