SBD/February 12, 2014/Olympics

NHL Network Unveils Special Show For Sochi Games To Cover Men's Hockey Tournament

Tappen is set to host NHL Network's special series on location in Sochi
NHL Network will air a new half-hour live program during the Sochi Games starting today and running through Feb. 23. The show, entitled "NHL Tonight: 2014 Sochi Edition," will cover the men's Olympic hockey tournament with interviews, game analysis, news and highlights. The show will be hosted by Kathryn Tappen from Sochi, with co-hosts E.J. Hradek, Mark Roe, Mike Johnson, Jamie McLennan and Kevin Weekes joining her from NHL Network's Toronto studio. It will air at approximately 3:00pm ET on game days, following the completion of that day's slate of games (NHL). ADWEEK's Anthony Crupi noted the show is "designed to complement NBCUniversal’s coverage." McDonald's is the presenting sponsor for the show, and NHL Network is "prepping 10 days of live studio coverage; there are no men’s hockey games scheduled for Feb. 17 and 20." NHL Network Senior VP/Programming Bob Chesterman said that the show "will offer hardcore hockey fans much more comprehensive analysis of the day’s international matchups." Chesterman: "While NBC and the CBC’s coverage is more dependent on the human interest angle, we can really do a deeper dive" (ADWEEK.com, 2/11).

DECISION ON '18 EXPECTED QUICKLY: NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly yesterday predicted that the league likely will make a decision about its participation in the '18 Pyeongchang Games "within six months." Daly: "I can tell you, (a decision) shouldn’t take all that long. It’s part of a broader discussion with the players association about what we’re doing internationally. That discussion is under way. I would anticipate a fairly quick resolution with respect to the Olympics." The GLOBE & MAIL's Eric Duhatschek noted the NHL and NHLPA "didn’t formalize" their participation agreement for Sochi until last summer, "barely eight months before the event took place." The league ultimately "received concessions" from the IOC and the IIHF on issues "ranging from insurance and transportation to media rights and access." The new agreement "gives the NHL a greater overall presence at these Games." While the IIHF "sees Asia as the next big market for growing the game internationally, Daly wasn’t sure if going to South Korea in 2018 would necessarily help market the NHL there on a long-term basis" (GLOBE & MAIL, 2/12). REUTERS' Frank Pingue noted while the "key sticking points during the last round of negotiations ... are likely to be on the table in the coming months, Daly also seemed to suggest that shutting down the NHL so players can compete in the Olympics may not make sense considering the growth in the league" (REUTERS, 2/11). SPORTSNET's Luke Fox noted the NHL is "known to be exploring other options for best-on-best international competition such as bringing back the World Cup and/or a Champions Cup-style tournament" (SPORTSNET.ca, 2/11).

NOT GIVING UP WITHOUT A FIGHT: IIHF President Rene Fasel yesterday said he is "going to work hard and do the best I can to get the NHL and NHL players in Pyeongchang." Fasel: "I will do everything I can -- seven days a week -- until a decision is made. But ultimately, that decision will be made by them." He added, "Most of the NHL players want to play in the Olympics and win a gold medal. Everybody wants to win a Stanley Cup, but you can play for that every year. An Olympic gold medal is something special -- it's so different than all the other championships in hockey -- and you can only do it every four years" (AP, 2/11). Fasel did say that there is "no chance hockey could be moved to the Summer Games -- to avoid interrupting NHL seasons" (ESPN.com, 2/11).

SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO? SI.com's Michael Rosenberg wrote it is the "right move" for the NHL to stop its Olympic participation after Sochi and added if he were NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, he would "get out of the Olympics business, too." This "will upset people who love watching the best players in the world in the Olympics," but the Olympics "need the NHL more than the NHL needs the Olympics, and the NHL knows it." Daly said, "If you polled the owners, I’m not sure any of them would really put up their hand and say, 'We have to do the Olympics.' Some of them are more amenable to why we do the Olympics, and the benefits -- the benefit -- that the Olympics bring than others. But from an owner’s perspective, they’re looking out for their business, they’re looking out for their team. It’s really primarily disruptive to the season and potentially harmful to their players. So there is not a huge support for Olympic participation" (SI.com, 2/11). But in N.Y., Larry Brooks writes under the header, "Put The NHL On Ice And Enjoy The Olympics' League Of Nations" (N.Y. POST, 2/12).

THE FUTURE OF THE WOMEN'S GAME: IOC Dir of Communications Mark Adams said that organizers are "'very pleased' with the quality of play in the women's hockey tournament so far in Sochi." The AP noted because of a format change that "separated the top and bottom teams in the world, there have been fewer blowouts than in past Olympics" (AP, 2/12). But in Colorado Springs, David Ramsey writes the U.S. and Canada's women's hockey teams "dominate the sport to such a degree that its place at the Olympics is in danger." Ramsey: "Just look at women's softball, which departed the Olympics largely because the U.S. and Japan were too dominant" (Colorado Springs GAZETTE, 2/12).
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