It's Not Right, But It's Okay: On The NHL Draft's TV Shuffle

PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 22: (L-R) Third overall pick by the Montreal Canadiens Alex Galchenyuk, first overall pick by the Edmonton Oilers Nail Yakupov and second overall pick by the Columbus Blue Jackets Ryan Murray pose during Round One of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft at Consol Energy Center on June 22, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Just letting NBC know they need to correct the problem is enough, no reason to get angry.

I understand your complaints. I really do. The fact that the first round of the 2012 National Hockey League Entry Draft bounced around three networks -- NBC Sports Network, CNBC and NHL Network -- for about four hours on Friday night is a bit of a black mark regarding enthusiasm for the league on TV. That CNBC couldn't hang on to the draft for another half hour because of a repeat of American Greed is beyond annoying. That NHL Network was the only place to see your team pick if you lived in the New York/New Jersey area, or Los Angeles -- home of the Stanley Cup Champions! -- is something the league can not and probably will not let happen again.

But let's get really serious about this for a second. Honestly, does this really matter?

The NHL Draft is not the NFL Draft or the NBA Draft. In most years, you will not see most of these kids -- beyond Nail Yakupov and maybe Ryan Murray because the Blue Jackets are dumb -- in significant NHL action for likely two or three years, at least. Combine that with a draft that was admitted by most to be one of the weakest since at least the lockout. Heavy on defense, light on style. Sure, if you like seeing footage of the Stephane Matteau goal from 1994 and love a distinct flavor of irony, Stefan Matteau (Stephane's son) getting drafted by the New Jersey Devils is a great story. Following up on Malcolm Subban -- P.K.'s brother -- getting picked by the Bruins is a great story. One might call the 2012 NHL Draft "the Troll Draft" when you add in the Staal and Schenn trades.

Let's not, however, act like this is an NHL game, or a Stanley Cup Playoff game. This is four hours of Gary Bettman shaking hands with teenagers whom most people have never heard of. Round 1 took longer than Rounds 2-7 combined. The only people who were likely still watching the 2012 NHL Draft when it ended on the NHL Network late into the night Friday were hardcore hockey fans. Face it, those are the only people who would still be watching if it had Tanner Pearson's walk-up as the 30th selection been broadcast on NHL Network.

This is not to hate on the draft. I had a lot of fun covering it for SB Nation, and I can't recall ever not watching it since I became aware of its existence. But I'm a hardcore hockey fan. I'm who the draft is designed for. I watched the World Junior tournament and have seen at least some college hockey this season. I knew the name Nail Yakupov back in the fall when he was hailed as the potential No. 1 pick. I read The Hockey News' list of top prospects as well as special draft editions of their magazines year after year. Not everyone does that, though. Hell, my dad watches as much hockey as I do, and he couldn't pick Nail Yakupov out of a lineup of one.

So, is the way the NHL Draft was treated Friday night a reason to get upset? Meh, not really. Is it something that needs to be corrected? Absolutely. It won't be a worry for another four years, however. It's not like we see Olympic trials every single year, and it's not as if we see NBC Sports Network having something big to air on a Friday night in June every year. Keep it the way it is, and air it all the way on NBCSN the next few years. When 2016 rolls around, if you haven't rescheduled the trials, move the draft to Saturday and Sunday night. This isn't something that deserves outrage, it just deserve a prompt correction.

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