Islanders: Conference Finalists Deserve More Nationally-Televised Games
By Ryan Grosso
The New York Islanders will be limited to a small sample of NBC Sports’ nationally-televised NHL broadcasts again for the 2020-21 season.
Today, NBC Sports Group issued a press release announcing its schedule of 2020-21 nationally-televised NHL broadcasts. Unsurprisingly, the New York Islanders have been limited to a sample size of only two games.
The dates for those two Islanders games are Sunday, March 7 vs. Buffalo, and Sunday, April 18 at Philadelphia.
The fact that the Islanders have been largely left off the nationally-televised schedule in 2020-21 shouldn’t surprise anyone. NBC Sports Group always tries to make a point of shining the spotlight on teams featuring the game’s most exciting and well-known stars. Apparently, Mat Barzal doesn’t count.
The press release also makes sure to include the emphasis placed on “fan-favorite rivalries.” As The Athletic’s Arthur Staple pointed out over Twitter, the section of the release which stated this has the Islanders set to face the Buffalo Sabres on March 7. The New York Rangers will host the Boston Bruins a week earlier on February 28. So in a season in which the Islanders and Rangers will square off eight times, they will not do so on national television even once.
As the press release winds down it comes to NBC Sports Network’s Sunday Night Hockey schedule which features “top-tier teams”. Thankfully, they regard the Islanders well enough to give them a slot against the Philadelphia Flyers. Who are owned by Comcast. The same company that owns NBC.
The Dallas Stars will travel to Carolina to play the Hurricanes a couple weeks before the Islander-Flyer matchup. It’s notable because this is the only game Dallas will play on NBC for the 2020-21 season.
So the New York Islanders and Dallas Stars, each team a 2019-20 conference finalist, will feature in three national broadcasts combined.
For the sake of comparison, the Vegas Golden Knights and defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning, the other two conference finalists, will appear five and four times respectively.
Tampa Bay will yank the curtain on the NHL season on January 13 when they raise their championship banner before hosting the Chicago Blackhawks on NBC Sports Network. A game that is part of an opening night triple-header on NBCSN that also features a Pittsburgh Penguins-Philadelphia Flyers matchup.
Usually, the powers that be at Comcast and NBC Sports Group snubbing the Islanders wouldn’t bother me. But there’s something about this season’s snub, in particular, that’s nagging away at me. Two games? Not a single game against the Rangers, Penguins, or Capitals? And poor Dallas doesn’t even get two games. They get one. Against a team they would normally play twice a year.
What’s your take on NBC ignoring the Islanders? Let us hear about it in the comments section.