Earlier today, the NHL has released their national television schedule for the 2012-13 regular season. This seems like a strange thing to announce given that the current Collective Bargaining Agreement is set to expire on September 15 and the league and the players union has yet to come to an agreement on a new one. So you may want to take this news with some amount of salt since schedules are subject to change due to any potential lockout. Anyway, news is news so let's move on.
The New Jersey Devils will have eight exclusive games on NBC Sports Network in the coming season. According to Sean Leahy's comparison of this year's national TV schedule and last year's national schedule at Puck Daddy, the Devils come off pretty well. The good news is that they will appear in one more nationally televised game than they did last season, and they are all NBCSN exclusive games. The bad news is that none of these games are currently set for NBC. There may seem like there's an opportunity given the flex scheduling for much of the NBC schedule, but I wouldn't get your hopes up. The Devils join the majority of the league to get shutout from NBC during the regular season. Still, another nationally broadcast game is good and eight appearances on NBCSN isn't too bad given that the Devils aren't Ed Snider's Flyers or James Dolan's Rangers. It could be a lot worse; just look at Carolina - especially in comparison with Buffalo.
In addition to these eight NBCSN games, there are another five games that will be aired on the NHL Network. Local fans will still have to watch the game on the MSG family of networks (likely MSG+), but those out-of-area Devils fans can throw on the NHL-N to see their favorite team in action. In total, this makes for thirteen total games that will be aired all across the United States in 2012-13. Again, this assumes a full season, which is definitely in doubt at the moment. Six of these 13 games take place in November so that "subject to change" clause may affect the Devils. Nevertheless, I've listed all the games as per the Devils' own announcement at their official website with some further commentary after the jump.NBC SN Exclusive Games - All Times at 7:30 PM EST - Additional Broadcasts in Parentheses
October 17 - vs. New York Rangers (TSN2)
October 24 - at Buffalo Sabres (TSN2)
November 20 - vs. Montreal Canadiens (RDS)
November 27 - at Boston Bruins (TSN2)
December 19 - at Philadelphia Flyers (TSN2)
March 5 - vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (TSN2)
March 13 - vs. Philadelphia Flyers (TSN2)
April 10 - vs. Boston Bruins (TSN2)
NHL Network Games - Blacked Out for Local Broadcasts
November 3 - vs. Pittsburgh Penguins - 7:00 PM
November 9 - vs. Toronto Maple Leafs - 7:30 PM (TSN)
November 11 - vs. Minnesota Wild - 5:30 PM
November 30 - vs. Phoenix Coyotes - 7:00 PM
February 9 - vs. Los Angeles Kings - 1:00 PM
Nationally Televised in Canada
December 27 - vs. Toronto Maple Leafs (TSN)
January 3 - at Montreal Canadiens (RDS)
March 16 - vs. Montreal Canadiens (CBC, RDS)
March 21 - at Montreal Canadiens (CBC, RDS)
Since it was specified in the post at the Devils' website, I included the four additional games that will be broadcast nationally in Canada. So Canadian Devils fans, you have a little more to look forward to provided you can stand seeing more of Toronto and Montreal. Speaking of, all four games between the Canadiens and the Devils will be nationally televised in Canada on RDS. I'm assuming that's standard, but that makes Les Habs the most prolific opponent
Interestingly, a lot of these nationally televised games will be home games for the Devils. Only three of the NBCSN games are on the road and none of the games on NHL Network are away from Newark. Most of the NBCSN games are against strong opponents - Our Hated Rivals, two with Philly, and two with Boston at a minimum is daunting on paper - so here's hoping that home ice makes a small bit of positive difference.
I'm a little surprised that the NHL Network will get the 2012 Stanley Cup Final re-match game and the Return of Zach Parise game. One would think either would be more interesting for NBCSN than games against Tampa Bay, Buffalo, or Boston. Still, some national coverage is better than none. While I'm on the subject of surprise: a Devils-Coyotes game is getting national coverage? I know it's just the NHL Network, but that just seems, well, random.
Only four out of the 13 nationally televised games in the United States of America will be against Atlantic Division opponents. They have five games against Northeastern Division teams, two against the Pacific, one against the Southeast, and one against the Northwest. Given the strength of the division, the fact they're mostly big-market teams (sorry Long Island), and they're all rivalry games, I would have expected more.
Lastly, based on Tom Gulitti's report of the national TV schedule, the November 9th game with Toronto is the Hall of Fame Game. Hopefully, the Devils will be legendary on that evening - presuming there's a game to be played.
Now that you've seen the Devils' national television schedule for 2012-13, what do you think? Do you think 8 games on NBC Sports Network and 5 additional broadcasts on the NHL Network is reasonable? Which of these games excite you the most right now? Please leave your answers and thoughts about the television schedule in the comments. Thank you for reading.