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.
THEY SAY GUYS ARE BAD
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.