I understand people's frustrations with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, and his reluctance to come out and say that his league will eventually benefit from having his players in the Olympics.
But keep in mind, staying on the fence, publicly, wouldn't be a bad move for Bettman, who could very well just be using it as a negotiation tactic for the new CBA, following the 2010-11 season.
Either way, my opinion stands firm. The NHL benefits from the Olympics, and will continue to for as long as its players are involved. But if the goal of having them participate is to lure in new fans for the rest of the NHL's regular season and playoffs, then those people should be able to watch tonight's game between New Jersey and San Jose on the Versus Network.
Easy to do if your cable provider is Comcast. If you have DirecTV, then you're out of luck, as the Versus Network is "no longer available on DirecTV" as pointed out when you go to the channel it used to be on.
"DirecTV understands how important NHL is to our customers and we apologize for the inconvenience," it says. "Comcast, our largest competitor, has forced us to pull down this channel. Comcast charges us fees to air Versus, and they are now demanding an unfair and outrageous increase in those fees. In these difficult economic times, we do not want to pass this increase on to you, our valued customer, so we are standing firm in the negotiations on your behalf."
Like the CBA, the NHL's contract extension with Versus is up after the 2010-11 season. So it would seem that Bettman has a much more important issue on his hands: accessibility of his league.
While everyone and their mother is arguing about Bettman's take on the next Olympics, maybe they should be, instead, concerned about a plan to make sure their very sport, in which the Olympics promote, can actually be seen by all who want to watch.
The recent dispute between Comcast and DirecTV is not an issue that can be blamed on the NHL, or at least, that is what DirecTV would like you to think. Regardless of who's at fault, my point is clear. When deciding the league's nationally televised future, the decision to move on from a network as obscure as Versus, should be more imminent than a tournament that's four years away.
In what seems like a yearly occurrence, I used Tuesday's show to rant about the three biggest areas that the NHL needs to address: accessibility, marketing, and cost to play hockey at the youth level.
Also on Tuesday's show, I noted a few Red Sox bullet points, heading into the team's first spring training games on Wednesday. And seeing that I've already spent enough time telling you what I think the Bruins should, and should not do, before Wednesday's trade deadline, I spent most of the show talking about what the NHL needs to do to fix itself.
Listen in its entirety, by clicking here.
For the best Boston sports analysis on the web - screw it, in the city - listen to I'm Just Sayin' weekdays at 1 p.m. ET on BlogTalkRadio.com. No show Wednesday, March 2, as I'll be covering Bruins practice for CSNNE.com.