- As of this morning, AT&T has pulled the NHL Network off of their U-verse television service. AT&T has launched a website to keep fans updated over negotiations. U-verse is unique because NHLN is carried as a stand alone channel on the service. In most of NHLN’s distribution deals, its included as part of carriage deals invloving NHL Center Ice. Because AT&T has declined to carry NHLCI, NHLN is negotiated on its own. Because of its bundling with NHLCI, I don’t think it’s likely that NHLN will see a rash of carriage battles. One thing is for sure, this is terrible timing. Just as the season begins, fans have had the rug pulled out from under them. Very few U-verse customers receive NHLN as it is carried on very high tiers. It’s likely that NHLN wants to be on a lower tier of service and much of this conflict stems from that along with an increase in carriage fees.
- In case you missed it, Rogers Sportsnet officially announced this week that they are dropping Rogers from their name as part of a re-branding effort. One of their new logos and their new tagline can be seen above. I’m not a fan of the new logo as it’s too dull for me but I’m looking forward to the new graphics, music and presentation as their current ones are pretty tired. The Canadian Sports Media Blog has more details on the re-branding including a video interview with Rogers Media’s Dan Bender, VP of Creative Services.
- College hockey television schedules are slowly leaking out. Hockey East and Atlantic Hockey have released their schedule of games to be aired on CBS Sports Network. HE will get 8 games on CBSSN while the net will show two Atlantic Hockey games. Whenever the full national schedules come out, I plan on putting a full schedule up on the site. The Minnesota Gophers released their TV schedule which has 32 of its 37 games televised.
- NHL On the Fly is now officially back with season previews starting to air this weekend. So far the show had only aired between games or during intermissions. We’ve seen plenty of talent on board this season with Jamie McLennan leading the way. Brad May, Mike Johnson and Kevin Weekes have also made multiple appearances. What’s interesting is who hasn’t been on the air. Kelly Chase joined the show during last season’s playoffs but he has yet to make it on this season. Larry Murphy, Craig Button and Gary Green have also been nowhere to be found even though they have been the most regular analysts for the show over the past few years. Green’s disappearance is interesting since he’s been with NHLN since its original launch in Canada in 2001. I’m not sure any of the analysts have really stood out to this point. McLennan and May still need some seasoning but they are getting better. For me, Weekes and Johnson are their strongest analysts.
- One of the few NHL Network original series to return year after year is Lord Stanley’s Summer. Its new season premieres on Monday night and I highly recommend it. One change on NHLN’s NHL Live is the addition of arena cams. They haven’t been utilized much but it wouldn’t surprise me if they also get used on OTF.
- Plenty of people have wondered what play by play man Peter Loubardias has been up to since Rogers let him go. While Loubo drew mixed reactions for his TV work, virtually everyone agrees that he’s one of the most knowledgable people about hockey and Loubo is taking advantage of that. The Pipeline reported that Loubardias has joined the Red Deer Rebels as a scout. Loubo has plenty of CHL knowledge so it seems to be a perfect fit. Good luck to him but hopefully, he’ll find himself in the booth again soon as I enjoyed his work.
- And finally, since TSN doesn’t have enough hockey contributors, they’ve added another. Yahoo! Sports writer Dmitry Chesnokov has joined TSN while staying with Yahoo! as a writer for Puck Daddy. Chesnokov is a terrific writer and he gained great notoriety for his reporting on the tragic story of the Lokomotiv plane crash. Congrats to him on his new gig.