(attn hockey fans in Westchester, NY : apparently, the Bruins and Canes played a decisive game of some sort of another)
Calling Sidney Crosby’s Game 7 breakaway goal against Alexander Ovechkin’s Caps, “the NHL’s equivalent of Smokin’ Joe Frazier’s 15th-round knockdown of Muhammad Ali in the 1971 ‘Fight of the Century’ at MSG”, the New York Post’s Larry Brooks surmises “if you weren’t watching at the moment, you probably didn’t see it anywhere.” Not a heavy You Tube user, presumably, Brooks dubs the NHL’s contract with Versus through 2011 “a six-year commitment as crippling in its own way as the Rangers’ six-year commitment to Wade Redden.”
If the first two rounds of the playoffs have been a showcase for the NHL’s greatest young players — start with Crosby and Ovechkin, go directly to Evgeni Malkin, then to Eric Staal, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews — it also has exposed the folly of Gary Bettman’s love affair with Versus and the grudge he carries against ESPN.
It has exposed the NHL’s empty approach to a television strategy, even as Bettman risks dislocating his shoulders in patting himself on the back for his league’s innovative approach to blacking itself out.
The NHL Network is no help. Somehow, this network doesn’t seem to have the authority to pick up local feeds. When Bruins-Hurricanes Game 7 was being played in Boston, the NHL Network was showing a 300th rerun of a Patrik Elias feature.
That Game 7, by the way, could not be seen by Cablevision subscribers in Westchester (and parts of Connecticut) even by people with subscriptions to the NHL’s Center Ice package. Every channel on the system was dedicated to baseball. So an NHL Game 7 was played in the dark . . . until Versus, which did not go live to the game between periods of its Anaheim-Detroit Game 7 telecast, joined in progress.