SBD/24/Sports Media

IS THE NHL FRONT OFFICE'S COMMITMENT TO THE GAME, OR TO FOX?

     There is more criticism this morning for the NHL league
office from Canada, this time concerning the decision to have the
Canucks and Blackhawks play back-to-back games in each city this
weekend in order to accommodate Fox's need for a Sunday game.  In
Vancouver, Archie McDonald writes, "The Fox's tail is wagging the
NHL's dog here."  While the other major sports have made
"significant concessions" to TV, "they didn't grovel the way the
NHL seems to be now" (VANCOUVER SUN, 5/24).  In Toronto, Gare
Joyce writes, "The Stanley Cup is supposed to be a showcase for
the best hockey the NHL can offer.  But even the elite teams and
the exemplary players can't perform at a high level given the
demands of consecutive games not 18 hours apart further
complicated by travel across a couple of time zones."  Joyce
writes that, out of respect for the integrity of the game and the
players' well-being, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman "should have
stood up to Fox and told the network two games with travel in
less than 18 hours was not only unreasonable but impossible"
(Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 5/24).
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