from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,
In the NHL, like in every pro league, TV gets its way. The playoff schedule, for example, is based on what the league’s primary broadcast stakeholders (NBC, Sportsnet, TVA Sports) prefer for their viewing windows. Had the Bruins faced off in the first round against the Blue Jackets, for example, NBC would have yawned, taken its pass, and ceded every game of the series to NESN. In contrast, had a Washington-Pittsburgh (meaning Alex Ovechkin vs. Sidney Crosby, in TV-speak) taken place in the opening round, NBC would have tried to secure as many of the games as possible.
So in that way, NBC could have exercised some clout in convincing the NHL to participate in the 2018 Olympics. It would have done the league’s No. 1 network partner well to highlight the sport’s best players next year.
But the reality is that in the Olympic realm, hockey remains a bit player.
The Olympics draw viewers like few sporting events can. It hooks in Super Bowl-like audiences: the watchers that aren’t invested on a daily basis, but tune in for casual looks every four years.
The winter behemoth is figure skating. Had there been any possibility of the world’s top triple-axelers saying no to South Korea, NBC, the IOC, and every other invested body would have turned night into day trying to secure the skaters’ presence in Pyeongchang, South Korea....
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The Red Wings planned to have extra security in place on Sunday for the team’s final game at Joe Louis Arena. For the intrepid Wings faithful who somehow stuff octopi down their pants and through the turnstiles, it would be nothing to walk out of the rink with a chair tucked under a T-shirt.