As was just announced yesterday, the Stars will be on national television four times this season, which is four times more than the Arizona Coyotes, and one-fourth as often as Philadelphia. As happens every year when the schedule is released, we hear lots of opinions about which teams are the network darlings and which truly deserving clubs were snubbed. And in light of Dallas' tame total on NBC, it may be easy to resent the fact that Chicago will play practically a quarter of its regular-season games in front of a national audience while Dallas only had three non-Chicago games picked up for parading in front of all the confused motorsports fans that left NBCSN on while they made dinner.
There are some positives to this small total, though, so I have put together a brief compendium of Reasons To Be Okay With the Fact That Dallas Only Got Four NBCSN Games This Season.
Note: I don't include playoff games in the "nationally-televised" category of games, but I would take more of those even if it means Jack Edwards is doing play-by-play, color and between-the-benches commentary all at once.
First, four isn't actually that small of a total. In fact, there are 13 teams with even fewer games than the Stars. That puts Dallas right about mid-pack, and, considering the state of the franchise, that's probably about right--from a national television audience perspective, at least. Look at it this way: the Blue Jackets only get one game, and they are in a pretty similar place to Dallas in a lot of ways. The rebuild is coming along well, the fanbase is strong if not quite massive, and they gave their highly-touted playoff opponent a scare last spring. Does this mean the Stars and Blue Jackets are equivalent? No, it does not. We did get three more games than those kids, after all.
Second, I cannot watch nationally-televised games at my house. Admittedly, this probably does not concern most of you directly (hi, Mom!) but many other fans who don't have the right cable packages find themselves blacked out during NBC broadcasts as well. And even if you do pay for NBC Sports Network, you naturally won't be hearing Ralph and Razor, although NBC is occasionally intelligent enough to at least pick up Razor for the color commentary. But for the most part, these are the times when the term "nationally-televised" stops feeling all that great. You can only hear "Carry Laytonin" and "Dominic Roussel" so many times, after all.
One does hope that as the Stars continue to re-establish themselves as a force in the NHL, their team will become more well-known. After all, I'm sure we could all name at least seven players on Chicago (probably at least 10 for a lot of you), but who could name four players on Florida right now? Fewer people, that's who. But in 2021, after Florida beats Winnipeg in six games* to take the Eastern Conference Final? We'll all know everyone from their AHL affiliate's backup goaltender to the assistant trainer's ex-girlfriend! This is an article about the Stars and NBC.
*before losing the final in four games to the Moscow Frostbite.
Third, there are other ways to get a national audience besides NBC. Remember Mike Modano Night in March?
This was not planned for national TV, but it was picked up by NHL Network in the preceding days, thus becoming a "nationally-televised game." In fact, this became the best kind* of nationally-televised game, because Ralph and Razor got to strut the franchise's stuff in front of everyone on their terms instead of Doc, Edzo and Pierre's terms, whatever they are these days. I hear the Dallas broadcast team has won an Emmy or two as well, so that's probably the right vehicle to use when showcasing your team on a hallmark night like this one.
*Actually, an outdoor game would be the best kind of nationally-televised game. (Or a cup final game, which part of me suspects would have to come first to enable the outdoor game at all.)
Finally, the Stars haven't always brought their best game to the national audience. (With an exception here and there.) Allow me to make my case:
Evidence #1, or "Why Turco was not invited to join Teemu and Giguere on their farewell skate this year."
Evidence #2, or "Who is really on the power play?"
Evidence #3, or "We can only beat Detroit with goals by Mark Parrish and Nicklas Grossman(n)."
Okay, sure, they won that last one I don't even know how, but just look at that hot mess up there. No siree, Bob, leave the Joe Benenatis and the weird Saturday morning game times to the old-timers like Crosby and Ovechkin, thank you very much. Besides, we all have much more important things to worry about.
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Jim Lites says the Stars' being on national television four times is a "reflection of the popularity of the team." [Dallas Business Journal]
From the ICYMI files, here's a development camp video from Ali Lucia and the Stars. See Gemel Smith skate! [Stars]
One interesting quote from Jim Nill on Eakin and Dillon still remaining unsigned: "I am still waiting to hear from their agents," Nill said. "I made an offer quite a while ago, and I just haven’t heard back." That certainly makes it sound like the players are waiting for their comparables to get signed before negotiating. Every bit of leverage helps. [Stars Inside Edge]
Come on, people. Mike Modano obviously knows that Reagan is no longer alive. He totally does. [Deadspin]
Brad mentioned the bit about Stars potential lines in his article Tuesday, but Elliotte Friedman's 30 thoughts are always worth a read, especially if you like reminiscing about Ovechkin's great backchecking abilities. [CBC]
Publicly-financed sports arenas are totally not a horrible scam, right? Well, you try telling that to the dozens (dozens!) of people still left in Detroit, buddy. (Just kidding, Detroit.) [Kukla's Corner]
Maybe we won't have to get used to saying "Arizona Coyotes" after all. Yet another tiresome development in the travashamockery that is the Phoenix/Glendale saga. [Arizona Republic]
Toronto finally admitted that they need help, which is the first step to becoming not the the mockery of the league. The proof? Shanahan touting Kyle Dubas as "not tied to any old ideas." Ouch. [The Hockey News]
David Booth would seem to be the first on-ice step (after "admitting it") in Toronto's grand rebirth. He won't score 40 goals (well, I mean, he might), but he often makes sure his team has the puck, which Josh always says is really important. [NHL.com]
If we're really serious about reducing concussions, why not look at the most important element? The NYT gives a glimpse into a study to make N.H.L. helmets much, much safer. [NYT]
I'm not sure if you know any former Whalers besides Daryl Reaugh, but Icethetics has a great look back at how one of the best sports logos was designed. Negative space is the best. [Icethetics]
Referee Tim Peel makes a questionable decision! This time, not during a hockey game! Peel's latest choice was joining Twitter, which would have proved to be a terrible decision after his first game of the season even if using social media were allowed by the current CBA. (It definitely is prohibited for officials.) Hey, good to know he's consistent: he doesn't have time to read the CBA or the rule book! [SB Nation] (Confession: I kind of like Tim Peel, but only because he officiated Game 6 against San Jose six years ago. Good memories.)
Finally, here is a 100-pound gymnast who became the first woman to complete this course. It's kind of amazing. Question: Which Stars player would get the farthest on American Ninja Warrior? I'm thinking Dillon. [Look It]