As the NHL Playoffs begin, with the sixth season in a row of every post-season game being nationally televised, we have significant comings and goings in the announce booth.
It is great news that Dave Strader will be back in the TV booth this week to call the first two games of the Washington vs. Toronto series for the NBC Network group. Strader, in his 32nd season of calling NHL games at the local (Dallas Stars) and national level, has missed most of this regular season undergoing cancer treatments.
At the same time, it is an official farewell to another NHL broadcasting legend with Bob Miller's last play-by-play telecast for the L.A. Kings this past weekend, wrapping up his amazing 44-years in that role. On Sunday (4/9), Miller was short and to the point on his final sign-off after the Anaheim Ducks defeated the Kings in overtime.
It was actually analyst Jim Fox, who has been with the Kings for the past 27 seasons, who spent more time and was clearly more emotional than Miller on the air when it came time to finish their telecast. Miller was very brief in his post-game on-air comments and remained very composed given all of his years in the booth.
The Stanley Cup playoffs are critical for NBC and perhaps for the NHL when it comes to future rights. There is no overlooking the fact that the regular season NHL ratings for NBC came in as the lowest since the early 90's, while NBCSN's ratings were the lowest since the 2011-12 season. Their hope has to be that the N.Y. Rangers, Boston, and Chicago teams all advance further into the post-season and bring their strong local market ratings with them.
Speaking of teams which draw ratings, the NFL is wasting no time in getting the Dallas Cowboys on national TV ASAP. The Hall of Fame Game, which begins the exhibition game season, will air on NBC on August 3rd with Dallas vs. Arizona.
Here are the other national TV exhibition games, with all times Eastern:
Hall of Fame Game (Canton, Ohio)
Dallas Cowboys vs. Arizona Cardinals (NBC, 8 p.m.), Thursday, Aug. 3
Preseason Week 2 (August 17-21)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Jacksonville Jaguars (ESPN, 8 p.m.), Thursday, Aug. 17
New York Giants at Cleveland Browns (ESPN, 8 p.m.) Monday, Aug. 21
Preseason Week 3 (August 24-27)
Kansas City Chiefs at Seattle Seahawks (CBS, 8 p.m.) Friday, Aug. 25
Los Angeles Chargers at Los Angeles Rams (CBS, 8 p.m.) Saturday, Aug. 26
Chicago Bears at Tennessee Titans (FOX, 1 p.m.) Sunday, Aug. 27
Cincinnati Bengals at Washington Redskins (FOX, 4:30 p.m.) Sunday, Aug. 27
San Francisco 49ers at Minnesota Vikings (NBC, 8 p.m.) Sunday, Aug. 27
Over at MLB, the effort continues to bring streaming telecasts of live games to other countries overseas. New multi-year deals have just been signed to provide live regular and post-season telecasts in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and India. DAZN is the OTT service provider for all except India, which will receive 20 games per week (with one game per three hour window) by way of VEQTA.
WASHINGTON D.C.: Looks as though the first round of the NBA Playoffs will be the last time that Phil Chenier will be the analyst on CSN's Wizards telecasts after 33 seasons in the role. It appears that Chenier wants to cut back on travel, as the early word is that he will serve as studio analyst during Wizards telecasts starting for next season.
PHILADELPHIA: 97.5 The Fanatic appears to have some behind the scenes happenings which are significantly impacting the station's morning show this week. Anthony Gargano has been off the air all week, coming just after reports that co-host Maureen Williams and producer Jamie Lynch were already dismissed by the station. No word, yet, regarding Gargano, who was said to be upset about the dismissal of Williams.
Eytan Shander, Geoff Mosher, and Joe Tordy have been filling in all week. Would have to think that Angelo Cataldi over at WIP 94.1 will do his best to deliver monster shows early next week to keep people from checking over at 97.5 to see whether or not Gargano actually returns. Since The Fanatic was part of a big sale of stations last year, it is possible this is the first of the cost cutting moves coming from new ownership.
CLEVELAND: Sorry to learn of the passing of long time local sports radio host Kendall Lewis. He was known as the "Big Sports Kahuna" during his seven year run at WKNR 850.
Meanwhile, the excitement about the Indians is already evident this early in the 2017 season. The team's first week of regular season telecasts on Sports Time Ohio produced ratings which were up roughly 90% over last year and nearly four ratings points higher than the average ratings for all of the 2016 season.
DALLAS: Rangers fans already need a scorecard to keep track of TV announcers, and now there is more. Tom Grieve has added 35 games, likely road telecasts, as studio analyst in addition to his games as the booth analyst during Rangers telecasts. Grieve will be in the booth this weekend for the home games vs. Oakland, while C.J. Nitkowski rejoins play-by-play voice Dave Raymond again on Monday when the Rangers start their road trip in Anaheim.
LEXINGTON: It will be the end of an era for local sports fans this coming September when WKYT-TV sportscaster Rob Bromley begins his retirement. Bromley just announced that after 40 years with the station that he will call it a career.
Bromley is one of the nicest guys you would ever meet, in any profession, and has been on the scene a long time. In fact, those of you that recall the 1978 U. of Kentucky NCAA Championship team coached by Joe B. Hall and featuring Jack Givens and Rick Robey might recall that Bromley was already on the scene covering that team. At the time, he was backup sportscaster to Denny Trease, before Trease went on to Kansas City to do Royals TV.