The Best Sporting Event That Nobody's Watching

I've been honking here for a while about the lowly Edmonton Oilers hockey club, barely squeeking into the playoffs in the first place, now playing in game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Nobody expected them to be there, and NOBODY expected them to force a game 7. Including KSL TV here in Salt Lake.

I bellyached last week after the Oilers won game 5 and sent the series back to Edmonton for game 6. KSL didn't schedule the next game on TV, although the National Hockey League has a contract with NBC for the games. (This broadcast contract was part of the negotiating that took place last year when the league was locked out of play for the entire season.) KSL was electing to show the Real Salt Lake game on tape delay instead. I sent several angry emails to KSL, along with some other people I know, and I got this email in response:
KSL Television will not be airing game #6 of the Stanley Cup Finals on Saturday, June 17th. KSL has a long-standing commitment with REAL Salt Lake to air a pre-determined number of soccer games. This contract was in place
long before NBC scheduled coverage of the Stanley Cup playoffs. We have
worked closely with NBC to move the NHL to another station in the market and at this writing, NBC has not been able to come to an agreement with another station. We have offered to tape delay the game, but the NHL has declined that offer in favor of trying to find a cable outlet.

We understand that this decision does not sit well with our hockey fans, however we also recognize that we have a growing base of REAL Salt Lake fans that are as enthusiastic about the REAL game.

Michelle Kettle
Program Director
KSL Television
When we went home Friday night, we called our satellite provider and tried to see if there was a way to get the NBC feed originating from another city. No go, we were told. So then we started calling around to all the sports bars, seeing if they had a way to pick up the game on a PPV subscription. As we were making these calls, we were told that they were getting inundated with calls for the same thing. We then looked into a quick drive to Pocatello to see it there, as the local NBC affiliate was showing the game there. We decided not to do that, and were crest-fallen with the prospect of watching RSL get their heads handed to them on a meaningless tape delay game from Houston.

However, KSL was apparently getting slammed with calls from people who were trying to see the hockey game as well. So, at about 5 PM during the US Open golf broadcast, KSL sent a crawler across the screen noting the the hockey broadcast was going to be moved over to KSL digital 5-3. Good news for us, having HD, but not good for those without. However, the good news here was that the sports bars would now also be able to get the broadcast. That was the best possible news for them, because there are a lot of folks here who still don't have the digital equipment to see the broadcast in their home, and would be forced out of the house to a bar where they would be spending money to see the game.

So bottom line: we were finally able to grab the game in HD, at home, where we yelled and screamed the Oilers to a resounding 4-0 shutout, forcing Game 7 tonight.

In the Tribune this morning, there was a short blurb about a resounding number of people who called KSL in a very cranky mood because they were trying to find the game, but couldn't.

From the web this morning, some wonderfully eloquent writing from Scott Burnside at ESPN.com about the series, and the prospect of the Stanley Cup coming home again to Edmonton:

From boyhood dreams that become reality, to reality that becomes disappointment, this is the grand telescope of the game narrowed to its finest point. A single pinprick of light on a dark canvas -- Game 7.

Sixty minutes (or more, of course, pending overtime) to make enough plays collectively to earn a place in history. All of the hundreds of names inscribed on the side of the silver chalice are reminders for all time of players who did just that.

There are hundreds of names not on the Cup that could not. Hundreds of players who were somehow paralyzed by the enormity of the moment and became part of the great unremembered.

Monday night, the surging Edmonton Oilers and the reeling hometown Carolina Hurricanes will engage in one more battle of wills to determine on which side of that grand emotional ledger they will stand.

Certainly looking forward to this game, like I haven't looked forward to the final game of ANYTHING in a good long time. If you want to come over and watch the game with us, give me a call.



for what it's worth said...

I am glad to hear that KSL got some serious flack for their programming.
It is unfortunate that it is so difficult for fans there to be able to watch such an amazing series.
This series is the thing that boyhood dreams are made of. They have worked their bags off to get where they are, and should they not secure Stanley's future in our fair halls, they can still embrace the warmth of the city and feel proud of their journey.
This is the stuff of dreams....wish we could watch it with you......

for what it's worth said...

If you missed waching the game, you missed the fastest, hardest hitting, and most exciting game I have seen in years.
This was an example of hockey at it's best. And unlike those folks who enjoy fighting, this game showed hard, punishing hits but no full on glove dropping. Just good "gaming"
It was an amazing game, an amazing run, and what promises to be an amazing season to come.
(Now, leave me alone, I have some serious sulking to do..)