In the U.S., NBC Sports and VERSUS return for a sixth consecutive season as national television partners. In Canada, CBC's Hockey Night in Canada begins its 58th regular-season of NHL® broadcasts while TSN, whose relationship with the NHL dates back to 1987, continues as the national English-language cable partner. RDS, the French-language telecast partner of the NHL, has been televising NHL games since its inception in 1989 and enters its eighth consecutive season presenting every Montreal Canadiens game.
For the 2009-10 NHL regular-season, television ratings and viewership continued a three-year upward trend for all partners. Additionally, the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs reached milestones:
- Most-watched NHL game in the U.S. in 36 years on NBC (Stanley Cup Final Game 6)
- The highest audience for an all-U.S. Final in Canadian television history on CBC
- The most-watched first two rounds on U.S. cable in history on VERSUS
- The most-watched NHL game in TSN history
- The largest audience in the history of RDS
Also on opening night, the Pittsburgh Penguins will debut their new home, the CONSOL Energy Center, against their intrastate rival and defending Eastern Conference champion Philadelphia Flyers at 7 p.m. ET as the middle game of VERSUS' tripleheader. In the nightcap, at 10 p.m. ET, the Chicago Blackhawks begin their defense of the Stanley Cup® by travelling to Colorado to face the Avalanche.
NHL Face-Off, a hockey and entertainment festival in Toronto providing fans the opportunity to salute the start of the season, precedes the first game of the Hockey Night in Canada doubleheader – the Montreal Canadiens at Toronto Maple Leafs at 7 p.m. ET. This game also will be available on RDS. The "Battle of Alberta" takes center stage for the second game on CBC's Hockey Night in Canada, at 10 p.m. ET, with the Calgary Flames visiting the Edmonton Oilers.
This will be the fourth straight year the NHL will begin the regular-season with games contested overseas. The Blue Jackets and Sharks will square off for two games at the Ericsson Globe Arena in Stockholm, Sweden, on Friday, Oct. 8 and Saturday, Oct. 9. Meanwhile, the Bruins and Coyotes will play each other at O2 Arena in Prague, Czech Republic, on Saturday, Oct. 9 and Sunday, Oct. 10. In total, TSN and VERSUS will each telecast four NHL games and NHL Network Canada will broadcast one NHL game from Europe to kick off the regular season.
The annual Hall of Fame Game will be played on Saturday, Nov. 6, when the Maple Leafs host the Buffalo Sabres. CBC's Hockey Night In Canada will once again provide full coverage of all of the festivities that evening. The Hall of Fame inductions are Monday, Nov. 8.
On Jan. 1, NBC Sports in the U.S. and CBC and RDS in Canada again will televise the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® -- the event Forbes magazine calls "the best new sporting event" of the last decade. Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins will battle Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals at Heinz Field, home of the Steelers, at 1 p.m. ET. The NHL's fiercest rivalry will be re-ignited in this special wintery setting.
The NHL's mid-season spectacular returns when the Carolina Hurricanes and the city of Raleigh host the 2011 National Hockey League All-Star Celebration on Saturday, January 29 and Sunday, January 30. The Honda NHL SuperSkills® and the 58th NHL All-Star Game will take place in North Carolina for the first time. The action from both nights will be covered live by VERSUS, CBC and RDS.
The celebration of hockey continues when Whitehorse, Yukon, hosts Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada on Saturday, Feb. 12. The network plans over 13 hours of coverage for the 11th edition of the event, including a NHL tripleheader featuring all six Canadian-based teams: Ottawa at Edmonton at 2 p.m. ET, Toronto at Montreal at 7 p.m. ET and Calgary at Vancouver at 10 p.m. ET.
Returning to the NHL calendar this season is the 2011 NHL Heritage Classic™, the regular-season outdoor game to be played Sunday, February 20, 2011 by the Montreal Canadiens and Calgary Flames at Calgary's McMahon Stadium. CBC and RDS will carry the game in Canada and VERSUS will telecast the outdoor match in the United States. The event marks the first regular-season NHL game contested outdoors in Canada since the Edmonton Oilers hosted the Canadiens at Commonwealth Stadium on November 22, 2003.
As part of Hockey Weekend Across America in 2011, NBC Sports and the NHL will salute the roots of the sport with Hockey Day in America on Sunday, Feb. 20. Launched by USA Hockey in 2008, Hockey Weekend Across America is a nationwide initiative to celebrate the game and those involved at all levels and to expose hockey to new audiences. NBC Sports will celebrate the day-long event with regional NHL coverage. More details about Hockey Day in America will be released at a later date.
After NBC Sports launches its NHL coverage Jan. 1 with the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, the NBC NHL "Game of the Week" drops the puck on Jan. 23 at 12:30 p.m. ET. The NHL and NBC will again collaborate on flexible scheduling for NBC's regular-season dates, providing fans the most exciting match-up available. At least 13 days prior to the scheduled date, a game will be selected to broadcast on NBC. All NBC "Game of the Week" games will be broadcast on Sundays and presented in High Definition. NBC will again broadcast games in the postseason, including Games 1, 2 and 5 through 7 of the Stanley Cup Final in primetime.
VERSUS will televise 78 games during the 2010-11 regular season, 13 more than last season, including 53 exclusive regular season games and 25 bonus games. In addition to live coverage of the All-Star weekend and the 2011 NHL Heritage Classic, VERSUS will cap off the final week of regular season action with a game each night (Monday-Friday) leading into the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs. During the postseason, VERSUS will once again air wall-to-wall action throughout each round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, culminating with Games 3 and 4 of the Stanley Cup Final.
CBC's Hockey Night in Canada schedule includes a total of 29 all-Canadian match-ups and the game's biggest stars, with a total of 87 games during the 2010-11 season, including preseason. Viewers will again be able to watch the CBC game of their choice with live and on-demand streaming of all games, special features and much more, available at CBCSports.ca.
This year's combined 124-game NHL on TSN national broadcast package is part of TSN and TSN2's multi-year broadcast and digital rights agreement with the NHL. A total of 76 regular season games will air on TSN, with 70 games featuring at least one Canadian team. TSN retains exclusivity of Wednesday Night Hockey, during which there are no other national or local NHL telecasts. TSN2's regular season schedule features 48 live NHL games.
Once again this season, RDS will telecast all 82 Montreal Canadiens games, including the 2011 NHL Heritage Classic. The network also will televise a package of 39 games featuring other NHL teams, including the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on New Year's Day. RDS will also be presenting full coverage of the NHL All-Star weekend. On RIS Info Sports, viewers will be offered an additional 42 regular-season NHL games.
NHL Network™ this season will televise up to 75 live games for its American audience and 31 live NHL games for its Canadian viewers. For Canadian viewers, NHL Network drops the puck on the live 2010-11 NHL regular-season schedule Oct. 10 when the Boston Bruins and Phoenix Coyotes go head-to-head in Prague, CZE as part of the 2010 Compuware NHL Premiere in a special 10 a.m. ET matinee. The action continues the next day when captain Sidney Crosby and the Penguins visit the New Jersey Devils at 1 p.m. ET. The next night, the Atlanta Thrashers travel to the West Coast to face the Los Angeles Kings for a 10:30 p.m. ET start. In addition, NHL Network's signature show, NHL On The Fly™, returns across North America nightly providing highlights and analysis of every NHL game.
More information on the dates and times of the NHL Network U.S. 2010-11 schedule will be released in the near future.