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The Final Countdown

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The participants in the finals have finally been determined and the first game will be played on Memorial Day, May 28th! The Ducks eliminated the Wings last night while the Senators made it past the Sabres on Saturday. Hey, hey what do you say? I picked both teams to win! I picked Ottawa to win in 6 and the Ducks to win in 7. Although I admit the number of games was incorrect. I can never seem to get those right. This should be a great series between two teams who have played very well for most of the playoffs. I'm sticking with the Senators though and I pick them to win in 6. We'll talk more about this series later.

Did anyone notice that Chris Chelios skipped the handshake line after the game last night? What a first class jerk. Some things never change, eh? And some people wonder why the Red Wings are still a hated team?

Many bloggers have been posting their thoughts about the dropping of the Ottawa/Buffalo game by NBC, right before over-time on Saturday. Luckily I was glued to the TV and turned immediately to Versus as soon as the network switched. Many people recording the game weren't so lucky and missed out on the over-time and eventual game winner. In my opinion, the dropping of the game isn't as much the issue as the original TV contract itself. I haven't posted about this before, but I have never really liked the Versus/NBC deal right from the get-go. I know that the league office signed for the best deal that they could get at that time, but in my opinion they didn't sign for the best deal they could get for the league's future. Allow me to explain. It's in the league's best interest to garner as much interest and viewership as possible. Are they going to be able to do that using a network which has 30% fewer viewers than ESPN? Are they going to be able to grow the fanbase using a network many people don't even have access to? The short and simple answer is no.

While the NHL got the most money they could get at that time, they took the short-sighted point of view, (it's not the first time), and didn't look at the big picture. Yes, before you say it, I know ESPN sucks. I know their offer was way below what they had paid for rights earlier. I know that they were cheapening production of the games and the highlight shows afterwards. But the sad fact is that most hotels don't offer Versus. Many bars and restaurants don't either. Some basic cable packages don't. What good is the greatest production work in league history if some of your fans can't see it? How can you grow the fanbase when 30% of the viewing public is unable to watch the games? Gary Bettman has some tough choices to make in the future. Hopefully he'll make a decision which is best for the game and it's fans, not just the decision which puts the most dollars into the owner's wallets on that particular day.

Bret Hedican's name has been in the paper the past 2 days. He reportedly already accepted his option to play again next year. That doesn't surprise me. What surprises me is that Rutherford supposedly didn't know this. Bret still has to get his hip checked out and will make a decision whether or not to play after that exam during the first week of June. According to his interview, all indications are that he will be wearing the sightless eye again next year. If he really is healthy, that's good. If he has another repeat performance from last year, no thanks.

Finally, many of us have been wondering about the Scott Walker negotiations. According to a quote by Rutherford in the News and Observer, there is a 3 year offer on the table. That's probably a year longer than the Hurricanes originally wanted to go, but at least they are making an effort. It's a no brainer that we need to keep Walker if the price is right! Happy hump day!

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