The NHL lockout "did inflict damage" on MSG Network, as the company "could not patch all the schedule holes for a network that carries the Rangers, Islanders and Devils, and even the Sabres," according to Neil Best of NEWSDAY. But MSG has the "advantage of a long tradition and should recover quickly, especially if the Rangers pick up where they left off last season." The bigger challenge is faced by NBC Sports Network, "which launched one year ago relying on hockey to put it on the crowded media map." Its fall ratings without the NHL "were at times embarrassingly low." NBC Sports Exec Producer Sam Flood said, "Obviously on the business side, it's frustrating we lost three months of the season on the sports network. We made this partnership to grow the game and grow the network." Best notes NBC's broadcast channel "was less harmed because its hockey season does not ramp up until January, anyway." But Flood said that skipping the Winter Classic "was a bitter loss" (NEWSDAY, 1/15). MSG Net will broadcast "Rangers Training Camp Live," a two-hour look-in at the team's training camp session from the MSG Training Center hosted by Al Trautwig, tomorrow beginning at 11:00am ET. On Thursday at 8:00pm, MSG's weekly show, "Hockey Night Live," will make its season debut, also hosted by Trautwig. The show's panel of Dave Maloney, Billy Jaffe and Ken Daneyko will take an in-depth look at the Rangers, Devils, Islanders and Sabres (MSG).
PACKAGE STORE: In DC, Stephen Whyno reported NHL Center Ice "won't be free for fans after the lockout, and neither will NHL GameCenter Live." But both products "are being offered at a discount for the 48-game regular season." NHL Center Ice is available "for $49.99 on inDemand," and NHL GameCenter Live also is available "for $49.99" (WASHINGTONTIMES.com, 1/14).
NETMINDER ON THE NET: The NATIONAL POST's Cam Cole notes Canucks G Roberto Luongo has "just rehabilitated his tattered image among the faithful with a brilliant eight months' worth of self-parody on Twitter." Just as he is "about to be shipped elsewhere, he's been revealed as humble, honourable, hilarious." Luongo has "never acknowledged" the Twitter handle as his own, though yesterday he "came as close as he ever has in an interview." From that a "thin cloak of deniability sprang a personality so engaging, reporters are now reconsidering their haste in endorsing the passing of the goaltending torch" (NATIONAL POST, 1/15).