It has been a busy week for the NHL after announcing their return to play plan. Once that happened it began business as usual for the league with players returning to rinks for voluntary workouts as part of Phase 2. Therefore the rumour mill is buzzing and the team at Last Word on Hockey is bringing you another Friday edition of NHL Rumours. Today’s NHL Rumours feature the New Jersey Devils, NHL Hub Cities, and the new NHL TV in the United States.
New Jersey Devils
Rumour: This week Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet came out with a new 31 thoughts and mentioned the New Jersey Devils. He states that four coaches are in the running for the position. While he has no read on what the team is doing at the executive level he feels they need to make a decision on that shortly.
Analysis: As Friedman mentions there are four coaches in the running for the position. They are Gerard Gallant, John Stevens, Peter Laviolette and current interim coach Alain Nasreddine. As reported the other day, Rikard Gronborg did have a meeting with the team. However, he wants to remain in Switzerland for the time being. Laviolette is a new name on the list for the Devils. Again he is similar to a John Hynes, who was the former Devils coach before going to the Nashville Predators taking over for Laviolette who was fired. As Dennis Bernstein of The Fourth Period mentioned on our very own Jersey Joe Corner Podcast, Stevens is viewed as an exceptional assistant coach rather than a head coach.
The best option for the Devils to take is Gallant who knows how to turn teams around. He is a good fit for the Devils. He can make the Devils play with a chip on their shoulder similar to what he did with the Vegas Golden Knights. As for Fitzgerald, he is operating as the general manager until ownership says otherwise. At some point, ownership has to decide on what direction the team is going in and make a decision. They can’t let this drag on forever.
NHL Hub Cities
Rumour: Our own Jersey Joe Corner podcast recently featured Dennis Bernstein Senior Writer of The Fourth Period. He revealed that Vegas could host the Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Finals if they did not host the initial early rounds of the playoffs.
Analysis: When Commissioner Gary Bettman announced the NHL’s return to play plan, he mentioned that ten cities are in the running to be hub cities. One of the ten cities being looked at is Vegas. As Bernstein mentions that when it comes to the conference finals and Stanley Cup Final a third city is being looked at. Here is where Vegas comes in. Like the other cities on the list, Vegas has the capability to host several NHL teams because of the hotel space they have. Not to mention the NHL really likes Vegas. Everything is on the table for the NHL. It makes the most sense to have the final four teams in one city to limit the travel and Vegas is the perfect spot to do that.
Again this is all contingent on the Virus itself. Things can change. There is even a chance the two finalists could host games in their home buildings once it gets that far in the playoffs. As Bernstein points out we really won’t know anything until the league announces those cities in the coming weeks.
New NHL TV Deal
Rumour: On the same Jersey Joe Corner Podcast, Bernstein talks about the NHL TV Deal in the United States. With it expiring soon, he says you could see multiple networks bidding on the rights to broadcast games.
Analysis: Currently the NHL has a television deal in the United States with NBC and Sportsnet in Canada. The current deal with NBC expires after the 2021-22 season. As we currently see having the league tied to one TV partner causes problems. Just look at what is going on with Sportsnet. Obviously there are regional TV deals for the Canadian teams, but in the United States, NBC is the be all end all. However, that is going to change. The next NHL TV deal will feature a multi-network package similar to what the NFL, NBA, and MLB have. There are enough platforms out there for the NHL to look out so they are not stuck with one network.
A Ton of Potential Suitors
With cable companies not bidding for the rights anymore, the NHL will have to look outside the box. Currently, the NHL shows games on ESPN+ via simulcasting. In addition, they have In the Crease with Linda Cohn. It would not shock anyone if ESPN makes a play to get games. The NHL will try to get a pay per view model out of it to bring the action to fans around the world. We already see with the NFL, MLB, and NWHL that games are being streamed online. With MLB Network owning the NHL network, look for games to potentially be streamed on Facebook.
Every now and then you get the occasional game on Yahoo. So there are a lot of options for the NHL to explore. But having multiple networks involved only increased hockey-related revenue for both the owners and the players.
That does it for this edition of NHL Rumours stay tuned for another edition within the next few days.
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