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The NHL Shift: News and notes, 6/20/2014

The NHL Shift

NHL Network Operations

The NHL’s mega-deal with Rogers Communications begins with the upcoming season, but all is status quo at NHL Network.

According to league sources, NHL Network will continue to broadcast out of the TSN studios in Scarborough, Ontario. Although TSN is no longer a national rightsholder of the NHL, TSN talent such as Darren Dreger and Bob McKenzie are expected to continue their insider reports on NHL Network’s programs, like “On the Fly” and “NHL Tonight.”

There was some discussion with Rogers about taking over for TSN as the league’s partner in the NHL Network, but Rogers Sportsnet is said to be too busy with its preparations for the first season of its 12-year, $4.9 billion deal as the NHL’s sole rightsholder in Canada.

“Just too much for Rogers to tackle this summer, which is understandable,” said a source.

The NHL and Rogers will re-open discussions about NHL Network in 2015, but TSN could remain in its role beyond the 2014-15 season.

Islanders Update

In the five weeks since The Shift reported that the sale of the New York Islanders to Andrew Barroway is in the hands of Charles Wang, the Islanders’ current owner, Wang has not moved to complete a deal. However, specifics of the potential agreement have been confirmed with sources close to the seller, the buyer and the NHL:

• Barroway is seeking to become the majority owner and purchase 80 percent of the team. “He wants decision-making authority and the ability to bring in his own people,” said a source.

• The agreed-upon value of the club is around $400 million.

• Wang’s advisers told Barroway’s group more than a month ago that Wang would like to complete a deal with Barroway this summer.

• Barroway and his partners have lined up all of the necessary financing.

• Barroway has executive personnel ready to join the team should a sale be finalized with Wang and approved by the NHL.

NHL officials, who prompted the discussions between Wang and Barroway, would like to see a sale completed but have urged Barroway to be patient and not to push Wang into a decision — for fear that Wang could walk away from a sale. How long Barroway is willing to wait is unknown.

As NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has stated a few times, most recently at the Stanley Cup Final, Wang has wavered over relinquishing controlling interest in the Islanders. According to one source, a part of him wants to see Islanders’ rebuilding program flourish with general manager Garth Snow at the helm.

A deal awaits Wang’s consent. As of this morning, no one knew when, or if, it will come.

NHL Awards Preview

With Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban serving as the reporter on the red carpet and backstage, give credit to the producers of the 2014 NHL Awards show for not taking the enterprise too seriously.

“It’s a hockey show for hockey fans, presented by hockey fans,” said Bob Chesterman, NHL senior vice president of programming and production. “It’s a fun few hours of celebrating the hockey season.”

The show, which takes place Tuesday night from the Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas, is produced by IMG under the helm of executive producer Steve Mayer. The live telecast from 7-9 p.m. ET will air on NBC Sports Network and CBC.

NHL Network will have a red-carpet arrivals show before the event and a one-hour recap after it.

For the first time in NHL Awards show history — the show began in 1983 — each of the three finalists for the Jack Adams Award (coach of the year) will be introduced by players from their teams.

Susan Sarandon, Michael J. Fox and Whoopi Goldberg are among those taking part in taped segments for the show. Awards will be presented by current and former NHL players, along with celebrity hockey fans such as Cuba Gooding Jr, David Boreanaz and Eric Stonestreet. NBC broadcasters Mike Emrick and Ed Olczyk will announce the winner of the EA Sports’ “NHL 15” cover vote.

This is the fifth time the show has been done in Las Vegas (second time at the Wynn) after a long run in Toronto.

“We have found, as you’d expect, that the players and everyone involved with the show loves having it in Vegas,” Chesterman said.

By the Numbers

$24: The lowest average ticket price on the secondary market for a game this season, according to TiqIQ: Columbus at Carolina on Jan. 27.

$1,982: The highest average ticket price on the secondary market for a game this season: Game 3 of the Kings-Rangers Stanley Cup Final at Madison Square Garden.

1.45 million viewers:
Average viewership for the Stanley Cup playoffs on NBC, NBCSN and CNBC. That’s the second best average for the NBC Sports Group since it got NHL broadcast rights in 2006. The 1.47 million average for the 2013 playoffs is NBC’s highest mark. (Data provided by SportsBusiness Daily’s Austin Karp).

Looking Ahead

Wednesday: Teams can begin speaking with free agents, but not sign them
Thursday: Board of Governors meeting in New York
June 27-28: NHL Draft in Philadelphia
July 1: Free agent signing period begins
This is the 2013-14 season finale of the NHL Shift. Thank you for reading.

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