Through biting your lip about the whole labor dispute mis-classification, we find the common sports fan would like to watch a little more hockey in a casual setting, but can't seem to find it on the dial.
Whispers floated around the internets last summer that perhaps the NHL and the "World-Wide Leader" would reunite, which by all accounts would inherently give the NHL more exposure, publicity and recognition from the un-ending hype machine of the 4 letter network (see poker). But Little Gary has other plans:
“I think people should anticipate the status quo for the forseeable future and i think the status quo has been very good to us, NBC and VERSUS. VERSUS continues to grow, I think their [sic] in 75 Million homes. People are very pleased, fans are very pleased with the treatment that we get on VERSUS and over the years we did and this isn’t to knock ESPN, they were a good partner - but, when you have all the sports that they do, there were hockey fans that felt we weren’t getting our fair share of the attention, and I don’t think anyone should anticipate any immediate changes in what were doing on broadcasting.”
Uhh Gary, "status quo" is that you have a sport fading from the casual fan's mind primarily on an obscure network. "Status quo" means your network television leaves over-time playoff situations for a GD HORSE RACE! "Status quo", to be frank, sucks.
It would have been more acceptable to say the truth; that Versus offers a good amount of money and that ESPN's scene is too crowded with NBA, College B-ball, NASCAR, and yes, poker; all of which are better options for ESPN to show due to ratings.
We like to think that we don't bash Bettman or the league just to bash them, it's neither productive nor helpful to anything but this situation has our blood a little boiled. For a man as bright as Bettman, it doesn't seem like he's in tune with what's going on. The NHL has been good at seeking out new Web 2.0 opportunities, but television is still key. The NHL doesn't and shouldn't go back to ESPN with their tail between their legs, but to get back on the sports public consciousness, it does have to go back in some manner. It's frustrating that Bettman and co. can't or don't want to see this.
(hat tip to kuklas korner for the link)