Nearly 15% of all Buffalo Sabres games will be on national television in 2022-23. Despite an incredible slate of contests, one oddity exists.
Curtis Deem of Union and Blue pointed out that the Buffalo Sabres and Columbus Blue Jackets will meet in three nationally-televised events, comprising one-quarter of the Sabres national TV schedule and 30% of the Blue Jackets.
Not even 24 hours ago, I penned an article regarding the Sabres three must-watch nationally televised games between November and December 2022. Of the five options, I stressed the November 2nd contest against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the November 4th outing against the Carolina Hurricanes, and the November 30th matchup against the Detroit Red Wings as the most notable.
This clearly neglected the two games versus the Blue Jackets. Deem, who in quotes referred to the Sabres as the Blue Jackets “bitter rival,” was quick to point out that there really isn’t much of a rivalry going on between the two teams. Next to the fact Columbus and Buffalo are within driving distance from one another, what is there, really?
The three-game national television series between the Blue Jackets and Buffalo Sabres is laughable if the NHL is using it to try and push a rivalry.
While the Sabres have had their moments against the other 31 NHL franchises, what exactly has stuck out in their 38 tilts against Columbus? We all know who the Sabres primary rivals are, and if I were to expand on that list, the Blue Jackets would probably be one of the last teams I’d think of.
In fact, looking at the entire national TV schedule, I only see three games that you could seriously consider to be rivalry matchups:
- November 30th against the Red Wings
- February 21st against the Maple Leafs
- March 2nd against the Bruins
And even the Sabres-Red Wings matchups are fringe at best from a rivalry standpoint. At least historically. While I’m all for seeing the Sabres catch as much national airtime as they can get – Buffalo is one of the NHL’s smallest media markets among American teams if not the smallest – they, and the rest of the NHL, need actual rivalries to best reap the benefits of playing in front of a national audience.
The NHL still pales in popularity to the NFL and the NBA. And if they want to inch closer to their North American pro sports counterparts, they need to put the most anticipated matchups on national TV.
They don’t all need to be rivalries. But I’m sure if they chose to air Jack Eichel and his Vegas Golden Knights against the upstart Sabres, it would draw much higher rankings than any matchup against the Blue Jackets.
Article Source: Blue Jackets Face “Bitter Rival” Sabres Three Times on National TV by Curtis Deem