Dogged by the schedule


I remember when Bruce Buchanan used to call Oiler games on TV, and it was a privilege as a kid to get to see a game because not even half of them were televised.

The game has changed.

Every game is televised now, and if the odd one isn’t, fans stare at their clock radio wondering how to use this archaic thing called a radio to listen in. Fans expect games to be televised now, and some will even moan over which station a game is on.

The Oilers released their schedule yesterday, and the first question amongst many was which games will be on television and where?

VP of communications and broadcasts for the Oilers, Allan Watt, was on my show yesterday explaining how the schedule gets set.

The Oilers home schedule breaks down like this:

  • Monday: six games
  • Tuesday: eight games
  • Wednesday: six games
  • Thursday: eight games
  • Friday: six games
  • Saturday: four games
  • Sunday: three games

I wouldn’t blame the fans, and even the Oilers, if they feel they were the lady and the dog was the schedule maker.

Every team except Chicago, Anaheim, Washington and the Rangers has twice as many Saturday night home games as the Oilers.

The Oilers have averaged eight Saturday home games since the lockout. Last year the Oilers had eight home games, in 2008 they had six, in 2007 they had ten, and in 2006 they had eight.

But remember that TV has lots of pull over which teams play on Saturday nights, and the Oilers haven’t made the playoffs in three years. Do you think it was a coincidence that after their Cinderella run in 2006 the Oilers had ten Saturday home games in 2007?

This year the Flames have seven Saturday home games, the Canucks ten, the Leafs 15, the Habs 14 and the Sens 13. Whether we like it or not, eastern-based teams will always have more games on Saturday due to a larger audience.

There are 26 Saturdays during the season, and it is a bit strange that the Canucks, Flames and Oilers combined only have 21 Saturday home games. You’d think it would at least be 26 due to the double-header on CBC, but there must be some road games of those three on the schedule.

Here are a few other things I learned yesterday regarding what station will broadcast Oiler games this year:

  • The contract with Sportsnet is for 40 games right now. Sportsnet has done 48 games in the past. They could add some before the official TV schedule is released, but for now it is 40.
  • CBC has to pick up 12 Oiler games, and TSN has to take ten. Right now they are both committed to those numbers.

Add it up and that is only 62 out of 82 games. Don’t fret, the other 20 will find a home on TV. The Oilers will have between 12-15 games on PPV, and I’m guessing TSN will pick up the rest on TSN or on TSN2.

TSN has exclusive rights on Wednesdays, and CBC has exclusivity on Saturdays starting at 4pm MT. That is why the Oilers play a road game in Boston at 11am this year. That game will be broadcast on Sportsnet or PPV.

The other factor in scheduling is building availability. Many think the Oilers get first priority at Northlands, and that isn’t the case. Certain events and concerts are planned a year ahead of time, so they actually get first priority.

The Rodeo always has an eight-day window in November. While the rodeo doesn’t start until Wednesday Nov 11th this year, they start on Monday the 9th trucking in dirt and then have to get out by Monday the 16th.

This year the Olympic curling trials take over Rexall from Dec 5th until the 14th, when you consider set up and take down. Then there are big concerts, trade shows and monster truck events that are secured a year ahead of time.

If the Oilers are more competitive this year and make the playoffs you can expect more Saturday night home games next year, if not, they’ll be around four to six, I suspect.
Here’s a breakdown of Saturday night home games for the rest of the NHL:

  • Teams with four: Chicago
  • Teams with six: Anaheim, NYR, Washington
  • Teams with eight: Minnesota, New Jersey
  • Teams with nine: Buffalo, Colorado, Dallas, Detroit
  • Teams with ten: Atlanta, Carolina, Florida
  • Teams with eleven: Philadelphia, Pittsburgh
  • Teams with twelve: Boston, Columbus, Tampa Bay
  • Teams with thirteen: San Jose, St. Louis
  • Teams with fifteen: Nashville, NYI
  • Teams with sixteen: Los Angeles
  • Teams with seventeen: Phoenix

Last year the Predators, Coyotes and Islanders were three of the bottom four teams in home attendance, and I wonder if all the home Saturday games actually hurt their attendance. Saturday night hockey is not a great draw in many Amercian markets.

The season is still months away, but the one thing that has to change in order for the Oilers to make the playoffs is their home record on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Last year the Oilers were a horrendous 3-12-1 combined on those days.


Ladislav Smid, Gilbert Brule and Denis Grebeshkov haven’t accepted the Oilers’ qualifying offers to date either. Grebeshkov is going to arbitration while the others are still trying to negotiate.

Liam Reddox didn’t accept the offer, and it sounds like he is looking at Europe as an option. Reddox doesn’t want a two-way deal, because if he’s sent down he’d make around $75,000. If he goes to Europe, he’ll make significantly more than that, and it will be guaranteed money.

I’m sure he looks at the odds of him making this team, or any NHL team, and realizes that Europe could be a much better fit, especially financially.

I don’t blame him one bit. He is only 23 and if he goes to Europe and plays well he might get a one-way deal when he returns, and in the mean time he’ll make a lot more money.


Was I the only one who found it funny that the women never stepped in to help their friend when Dobry the Dog got excited? They just laughed. Classic.

  • Vic Oiler

    Hemmertime wrote:

    @ Andrew W:
    Ya, better than nothing. Satellite TV would work too. Should get Sportsnet W.

    Center Ice. The only way to go if your outside Edmonton.

  • Helmerfied

    @ Jason Gregor:
    Jason Gregor wrote:

    I remember when Bruce Buchanan used to call Oiler games on TV, and it was a privilege as a kid to get to see a game because not even half of them were televised.

    I'm 27 now and was a bit young for the Buchanan era but I very much remember it. ITV with John Garrett doing color and Tim Spellicy down at ice level! Buchanan was great. He'd be right into it, getting excited with every chance (of which there were many back then).

    Out of curiousity, do you have any idea of approximate how many games ITV used to cover in a season? With no CBC double-header games either…wow, can't imagine so few telecasts.

    Thanks Jason!

  • 99thoilerfan

    I enjoyed those broadcasts with Bruce,Tim and John.

    As I was a 18 year old at the time, going to NAIT,
    broke and unable to get to a game, so it was great to see them on the tube, for free !

    As I recall, the Boys did a real good job !

    (Once again at 18, What do I remember about anything?)

    *PS: getting those boys in a room, and listening to them discuss "the good old days" would make a fine radio show.


  • Millertime

    Where I used to listen to half the games on the radio…because that's all there was, and plan my week around the televised games, I now can't wait to watch in beautiful HD. And not that crappy SNETHD, but true 1080P that only CBC or TSNHD offers.

  • Harlie

    NBC and the NHL signed a deal for the 2010-2011 season. Anyone got the contract amount? Here's the story

    "NBC has decided that its best-ever ratings for hockey was reason enough to renew its partnership with the NHL.

    The Peacock network has extended its deal with the NHL through the 2010-11 hockey season; June’s Game 7 against the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Detroit Red Wings was the network’s most-watched in 36 years, with eight million viewers.

    “We strongly believe this is a league that is poised for continued growth,” Ken Schanzer, president of NBC Sports, told The Hollywood Reporter.

    “Together, we have attained viewership milestones not seen in more than three decades. And the Winter Classic, in just two years, has become one of the highlights of the sports calendar.”

    NBC’s most recent partnership with the NHL began in the 2006 season, adding such innovative and interesting coverage as Inside the Glass, which put analyst Pierre McGuire between the two teams’ benches; the move snagged NBC Sports an Emmy in 2009.

    NBC’s 2010 coverage will begin New Year’s Day with the third annual NHL Winter Classic, where the Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins will face off in Fenway Park on an outdoor rink."


  • Shannon

    smiliegirl15 wrote:

    How sad is that? I get most of my games a la Rod Phillips and streaming

    I kind of like listening to the games on the radio (or online)! But everytime Rod screams and sounds like he's having a heart attack, so am I!

  • flyricky

    This is for you Gregor. You should stick to radio because I just watched you on television and you are way too ugly to be on tv. Plus lose the earring you look like a gay pirate.

  • Harlie

    Jason Gregor wrote:

    Harlie wrote:
    NBC and the NHL signed a deal for the 2010-2011 season. Anyone got the contract amount? Here’s the story

    It is a revenue sharing agreement. NBC did not give a cheque to have the games.


  • Cam

    Shannon wrote:

    I kind of like listening to the games on the radio (or online)! But everytime Rod screams and sounds like he’s having a heart attack, so am I!

    I prefer listening to Rod than the TV guys. He makes a snore fest seem exciting. I usually turn on the radio for Minnesota games.