Because of Gary Bettman’s lousy television contract, the Stanley Cup Final schedule is being dictated to the NHL, its teams, the players and their fan base by the programmers at NBC Sports.

The first two games of the Stanley Cup finals are going to be played back to back this weekend in Detroit because NBC doesn’t want to take up its valuable weeknight primetime schedule with NHL hockey. Bettman acquiesces because he needs the exposure for the NHL and he’ll take it anyway he can get it, even if it means putting the game and it’s players to disadvantage.

After garnering good ratings with the Winter Classic, one would think that NBC would be willing to put the Stanley Cup Finals up against its schedule of all repeat sitcoms on Monday night, thus allowing both teams a day off in between games. Televising the Stanley Cup Finals in primetime might also attract fans who might not watch midday on a weekend but would watch on a week night. But, that would make too much sense.

Having back to back games on Saturday and Sunday is a win/win situation for Pittsburgh, whose younger legs might not be so weary come Sunday, as opposed to the beat up Red Wings.  Doesn’t it play into Herr Bettman’s hands to give the Penguins every possible advantage. The Cindy Crosby/Gary Bettman love fest continues.

For me, the best possible scenario is for the Red Wings to sweep and for the NBC ratings to be dismal this weekend. Well, maybe a sweep is too hopeful but I’ll take a  Red Wings victory anyway they can get it.I wonder how the officials will try to hand the series to Penguins.  Let’s see if they’ll make up any “new rules” during this series. Perhaps they’ll drag out the old “goaltender interference penalty on Tomas Holmstrom” chestnut that worked so well last year. Maybe another intended but not blown whistle to waive off a goal. 

If the Wings do prevail, their victory will be besmirched for the simple reason that for yet another year,  we will have to watch that smarmy little pisher of a Commissioner hand out the greatest trophy in sports.


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