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Montreal Canadiens P.K. Subban. REUTERS/Shaun Best (Shaun Best/Reuters)
Montreal Canadiens P.K. Subban. REUTERS/Shaun Best (Shaun Best/Reuters)

The Usual Suspects

HBO likely to overlook Canadian clubs Add to ...

The Vancouver Canucks may win the Stanley Cup within the next 10 days, but it won't win them a place on the NHL's new showpiece, HBO's 24/7 documentary series. When the 2011-12 schedule is released later this month you'll likely see the Philadelphia Flyers play the New York Rangers in next season's Winter Classic on Jan. 2 (The NFL has playoffs on Jan. 1). Ergo, Rangers coach John Tortorella will make a run at Bruce Boudreau's profanity record from last season's HBO romp with the Washington Capitals.

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NHL vice-president of content, Charles Coplin, said Saturday that while there's no guarantee the clubs playing the Winter Classic will be the subject for HBO, you can pretty much bet on who gets to drop F-bombs on 24/7 this time out. "Clearly, we'd like to have it with the two teams playing in the Winter Classic," Coplin said shortly before Game 2 in Vancouver, "It gives an arc to the story, a focal point for the show to wind up."

NBC's ratings for Game 1 showed a healthy uptick in viewership for the playoffs over the last few years. While Coplin didn't want to attribute any surge in playoff numbers to the positive critical and viewer reaction to 24/7, he did note that, in Pittsburgh, local ratings for the Penguins were up about a third after the series. "The feedback from everyone was positive," Coplin said. "HBO, the teams, the management of the teams … everyone seemed happy with how it went."

Just don't expect to see a Canadian team anytime soon on HBO, even a Stanley Cup champion, so long as there are major U.S. markets to be served.

DOWN GO RATINGS

Overnights from NBC show ratings for Game 2's thriller were down significantly. According to TV By The Numbers, "the preliminary 1.2 adults 18-49 rating for the prime-time portion of the Canucks/Bruins game was down 50 per cent from the preliminary ratings for last year's Game 2 (2.4 adults 18-49 rating for the prime-time portion). It was also down 33 per cent vs. the preliminary ratings for the prime-time portion (1.8 rating) of Game 1 this season." Part of the lower number is the Saturday night slot - traditionally the weakest night for prime time in the U.S. We'll wait to see the full numbers over the series before making judgments, but no one can complain about the drama or refereeing in Game 2.

DO I HAVE A BID

NHL officials will be watching closely IOC meetings today and tomorrow as U.S. networks make their bids for the 2014/ 2016 Olympics. NBC has had the rights for eight of the past 10 Games, but the resignation of Dick Ebersol and the losses incurred in recent Olympics have given a different spin to the bidding. NBC, FOX and ESPN are all in Lausanne, Switzerland, to pitch their plans for the Games to the IOC, which would like to score a $2-billion payday.

There's a possibility that the IOC may decide to award rights for 2018/ 2020 as well if the deal can boost payments in the face of recurring advertising losses (NBC may lose almost $500 M. on the 2010/ 2012 Games), a weak U.S. economy and the uncertainty surrounding Sochi's security As reported earlier, FOX is planning to do all-live broadcasting as opposed to NBC's canned content that holds major events for prime time in the U.S. ESPN is touting its wide array of networks and its experience with last year's FIFA World Cup. But all will be keeping an eye on the bottom line.

The date for Canadian rights' bidding hasn't been settled yet, but it may come in July or August. Sources tell Usual Suspects that, if the IOC doesn't get what it wants from the U.S. networks, it could signal a similar dropoff in Canadian rights payments, which were boosted to $153 M. by the Vancouver Olympics.

WHAT'S MY LINE

With an estimated 600 media wretches covering Games 1 and 2 in Vancouver, getting a good quote is golden. Disgruntled Boston forward Mark Recchi had Saturday's pithiest remark when asked if his goal in the second period answered his critics. "The critics can kiss my ass," hissed Recchi.

Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe relays a more whimsical quote when a TV reporter, interviewing Shawn Thornton, observed that they both shared having a red beard. "Yeah, well, my mother's from Belfast," Thornton said, adding, "so everyone in my family's got red beards - I mean, everyone but my mother."

LOST IN SPACE

Conversation on-air between Toronto Blue Jays radio guys Gregg Zaun and Jerry Howarth on The Fan radio network has a Big Bang Theory meets Lawrence Welk quality. Sample on Sunday from a whimsical Zaun: "There's a kid in the third deck here. His cotton candy has melted. And it looks like his face is now glued to the back of his seat." Jerry: "And that's baseball!"

IN THE UPPERS DECK

ESPN's Jayson Stark says there's a simple explanation for so many MLB players on the disabled list. One that the barons of baseball don't want to deal with: Amphetamines. When they got rid of greenies (through increased drug testing), Stark said Sunday on ESPN Radio, it made it that much more difficult for players having a day game after a night game or changing time zones three times in a week. Stark suggests cutting back the schedule to 154 games. But don't expect management or owners to tackle that issue anytime soon.

 

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