ESPN is showing the National Hockey League the backdoor once again. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly and NHL Enterprises president Ed Horne each told Slap Shots last week that ESPN has refused to accept commercial advertising from the league. ESPN which declined to pick up NHL games following the lockout doesn’t look like it has any desire in the future to air NHL games. I have said for a long time the NHL needs ESPN even if it is second fiddle to the NFL, NBA and MLB. The Versus network is killing the leagues market ability because how many people tune into Versus on a regular basis? The NHL must find a network that households watch on a regular basis. I’m a huge hockey fan and rarely watch games on Versus because i forget that the NHL exists on it. I’ll have to admit the Versus network is not on my favorite list. The NHL is never going to be a rating hit but it must find a new network.
Reports out of Canada are Petr Bondra would love to return to the NHL but he doesn’t have many takers. It is very surprising that teams starving for offense have not taking a shot at signing Bondra. Detroit has been speculated for a while but Bondra prefers to return to Washington although they do not have much interest. Would love to see Pittsburgh take a chance on him. Why has no one signed Jason Allison? Allison hurt himself in free agency by commanding a 3 million per season deal which no one was obviously going to give him. His price has now dropped significantly but interest in minimal. Teams interested Chicago, Florida. Can the rumors of Brian Leetch returning to the New York Rangers please end.
The New York Islanders are in first place in the Atlantic Division. They are the surprise team of the season and a lot of the credit has to go to head coach Ted Nolan. Nolan brings stability to a franchise in dire need of it. Nolan brings more than X’s and O’s to the table and it’s a shame he has been out of the game for almost 10 years. Off-season moves such as the firing of Neil Smith and the 15 year contract of Rick Dipietro are laughable but their play and record to now isn’t. The additions of Brendan Witt, Mike Sillinger and Vicktor Koslov have dramatically upgraded this team and Nolan will keep them in the playoff hunt till the end.