The NBC Sports Group revealed its broadcast schedule Monday morning, and lo, there will be five Kings games broadcast nationally by NBCSN:
Tuesday, January 15: KINGS at Minnesota, 5:00 p.m.
Monday, January 21: KINGS vs St. Louis, 1:00 p.m.
Thursday, February 21: KINGS at Nashville, 5:00 p.m.
Monday, February 25: KINGS at Tampa Bay, 4:30 p.m.
Sunday, March 10: KINGS at Anaheim, 7:00 p.m.
-all times PT | all national Kings games will appear on NBCSN
Five nationally televised games represents a drop from recent years:
And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. With fewer games on NBC properties, there’s more Alex Faust, Jim Fox, Patrick O’Neal and concentrated Kings commentary and storytelling. On the other hand, players deserve more continental recognition, and from an organizational standpoint, it’s good to continue to spread the Drew Doughty and Anze Kopitar gospel far and wide. For whatever reason, the national schedule release seems to bring out immediate and angry responses from several camps, among them: those who feel that a decrease in games constitutes a lack of respect; those who prefer regional over national commentary; those concerned by a middling regular season national record; those who just want to see the Blackhawks less. The Kings’ overall results paint a lukewarm picture. Though Los Angeles was 8-3-1 on NBC games in 2017-18, they’re 25-24-4 overall, dating back to the 2013-14 season.
Also, in 2017-18, both Faust and Fox were a part of NBC’s regular broadcast rotation, so it’s still very possible that you’ll be able to listen to their educated Kings detail and analysis for some combination of the five games above.
Though several teams will always be part of the regularly scheduled programming – Chicago leads all teams with 19 NBC appearances, followed by Washington at 18 and Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with 15 – there is also a greater push to highlight a newer generation of young superstars who happen to play in Canada. Connor McDavid and Edmonton will appear on NBC properties six times, as will Auston Matthews and Toronto. Patrik Laine and Winnipeg will make five appearances this season after zero last season. Tampa Bay jumps from six to 12 appearances and Colorado from one to six; in the other direction are L.A. (12 to five), Detroit (12 to six) and Montreal (eight to one).
As dynamic young players emerge and the hierarchy of both conferences evolve, there will be changes in the national schedule’s tendencies, and Los Angeles this year is among the teams to shed a few games as McDavid and other superstars are deservedly broadcast to a wider American audience than in years past. “We have dug deep to make sure we are touching all the right markets,” Sam Flood, Executive Producer & President, Production, NBC Sports and NBCSN, said to USA TODAY Sports, as reported by Kevin Allen. “We are touching Canada in a way we never have before.” 67 of the 110 scheduled regular season games on NBC and NBCSN will feature at least one Western Conference team.
NBC Sports has shared that the 109 regular season games it will broadcast this season are the most since acquiring NHL rights in advance of the 2005-06 season. Instead of “Wednesday Night Rivalry,” there will be 25 “Wednesday Night Hockey” showcases featuring an NBCSN-record 17 doubleheaders. This is where you’re more likely to see a wider array of teams such as Vegas (nine appearances), Nashville (nine appearances), Colorado, Winnipeg, Edmonton and other Western Conference clubs. This doesn’t really apply to the Pacific Time Zone where we comfortably fall asleep at reasonable hours, but there’s a push for more Wednesday night games to begin at 7:00 or 7:30 p.m., ET, rather than 8:00 p.m., which allows for an earlier start to the second game of the doubleheader.
“With the impressive growth of fan interest in non-traditional NHL markets combined with the emergence of a number of rising stars, we felt the time was right to broaden our Wednesday night schedule and evolve the brand,” Flood said in a statement. “Fans will still see plenty of games between traditional powers, but our new approach to Wednesday nights – including a record number of doubleheaders – allows us to show more rising stars and more Western Conference and Canadian teams than ever before.”
Coverage of 2019 All-Star Weekend from San Jose’s SAP Center will take place on January 25-26. The NBC-transmitted event on January 26 will mark the first time the All-Star Game will be televised live on a broadcast network since 1997. NBC will also broadcast the 2019 Winter Classic between Boston and Chicago from Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend at 10:00 a.m. PT on January 1 and the Stadium Series game between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia from Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia on February 23 at 5:00 p.m. PT.