Bettman wagers on U.S. exposure

ROB BRODIE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:18 AM ET

He's a Canadian who's also wearing CBC's colours during the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

So naturally, Garry Galley understands the frustration the network -- and many Canadian hockey fans -- are feeling about what is to unfold tomorrow.

The Ottawa Senators, Pittsburgh Penguins and Sidney Crosby have been shunted to an afternoon start time, all in the name of appeasing NBC. And Hockey Night in Canada, meanwhile, gets stuck with a Tampa Bay-New Jersey matchup in its traditional Saturday night time slot.

"I'm Canadian and I'm like a lot of people up here," said Galley, who's working the Lightning-Devils series with Mark Lee. "We should get to watch a Canadian team on Hockey Night in Canada."

But he said "it was a no-win situation" for NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

"He could have been honourable to Canadians and supported the Hockey Night in Canada tradition. I thought maybe he'd go that way," said Galley, an Ottawa sports talk radio host and Senators game analyst. "But they're trying to get back into the U.S. market, and NBC is the vehicle for that ... it's a double-edged sword."

Galley played all 17 of his NHL seasons in the U.S. He isn't among those who think trying to sell the game to a doubting American public is a waste of energy.

"A lot of Canadians couldn't care less about trying to force-feed hockey to a country that doesn't feel (the same way)," he said. "But you can't stop trying. That's a big TV market down there."

And apparently, in Bettman's world, that still trumps everything. Canadian tradition be damned.

NIGHT OWLS: Overtime hockey was a hit for CBC and TSN on Wednesday. Game 1 of the Stars-Canucks series, a four-OT marathon, pulled in an average audience of 1.126 million for HNIC. TSN drew 380,000 for San Jose-Nashville, a double-overtime affair. Top number of the night: Ottawa-Pittsburgh, 1.23 million. The low: Minnesota-Anaheim, 287,000.

IT'S YOUR CALL: The NHL and Sportsnet have a three-year deal that will allow the network to distribute game highlights at sportsnet.ca and on Rogers mobile phones.

AROUND THE DIAL: TSN begins coverage of the world under-18 hockey championship in Finland with Canada-Russia on Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. It also will air one quarter-final and semi-final, along with the April 22 gold-medal game.


Videos

Photos