The NHL announced its National TV schedule yesterday and the Isles are scheduled to have 12, yes TWELVE, appearances for the country to see during the 2021-22 season.
ESPN, the league’s primary new television home, will show the team two times: Chicago on October 19th and against the Washington Capitals in late April. The Isles are slated for four games on TNT — January 5th at Vancouver, March 20th at Philadelphia, March 27th against the defending champion Lightning, and April 3rd against the Devils. The other six times will be on the ESPN+/Hulu, the NHL’s new streaming partners.
Sidenote: There is no Islanders/Rangers game scheduled for either of the three platforms which is truly disappointing.
Now before we get all technical here — which some have already pointed out because the Isles’ games to be seen on ESPN+ and Hulu are streaming services that require subscription — this is the new way of watching sports in this world. The major four sports in the U.S. have all moved in this direction, the NHL being the latest.
And there’s no mistake for those specific games selected, that being the Islanders are a draw now. The Isles were received well in the ratings during their run in the postseason last year, which, was helped in part to it being the final playoff games being played at Nassau Coliseum. But this year, having come off that exhilarating summer and moving into a beautiful brand new facility at UBS Arena, it makes them more of an attractive team people want to watch.
For the last few seasons, the Islanders and their fans would be lucky if they were shown once or twice on a national platform. Now they’re getting a dozen. And yes, while many fans rather have the dynamic duo of Brendan Burke and Butch Goring calling the action, receiving this exposure is a great development for an organization that has for the longest time been left out of that conversation. These are the kinds of little things that can appeal to free agents.
Players in this league like to play for big-market teams. The Islanders have become one. Are they the Rangers? No. But they aren’t far away either.
When owners Scott Malkin and Jon Ledecky bought the team seven years ago, they envisioned the franchise being seen as one of the premier organizations in the league. They’ve taken remarkable strides to get there. The winning and the management part have now been in place. Getting seen by major television audiences more is another large step in the right direction. That’s what they will get this year.
I’ve harped on the Isles getting more of a spotlight for years now. Some of it was justified, some not. But they’ve become too good for them not to be recognized as one of the top teams in the league. That coincides with being seen by a national audience.
The fact they are getting that treatment now is a great thing.