The inevitable happened on NBC today, they had something more important to shift their attention away from the Stanley Cup Playoffs. That's not all that big of a shock, afterall this is America where our networks are scared to death of putting a hockey game on after 7PM on a weekend for fear somebody will tune in. And, the Triple Crown is a big deal, I'll give them that. However, over an hour of pre-race coverage is NOT that big of a deal.
The odds on favorite for the Preakness every year is the Derby winner. There has been two weeks of feel good stories about Street Sense and his jockey. Odds updates? Who cares if you're not at the track? So, that's what NBC thought would be better than completing OT? In the world of ratings, which drives everything TV, I'm sure the Preakness would get better ratings than OT of the Sens-Sabres...meaning the actual Preakness itself. Spare me the pre-race stuff, at least finish the OT then shift it off to Versus. There's no time commitment to getting to the Preakness coverage at 5PM for a race who's post time is about 6:10PM.
Or, here's an alternate thought, and one that would have all of Canada cheering...put the game on at night, AFTER the Preakness. There's really very little threat of the Preakness needing overtime...or extra furlongs, whatever they'd need. A horse race is a pretty finite time frame for TV purposes.
Playoff hockey, however, has a pretty good chance of seeing overtime. It's got a pretty good chance of seeing more than one overtime. Even a regulation game could eat up the 3 hours that NBC allotted before they switched over to the oh-so-important race build up in Maryland. So, why not start the game at 7? Or better, 8, let HNIC get it's broadcast and let the American hockey fans (we are out there, believe it or not) get a prime time playoff game before game 3 of the Cup finals.
So, I think NBC had options other than the one they exercised. I doubt this becomes "Heidi '07," but it was leaving a game in-progress to go to over an hour of pre-race stuff for the Preakness. As it turned out, the game ended about an hour before post time at Pimlico, so NBC could have done both finish the game and get plenty of pre-race banter in before we lost another shot at the Triple Crown. I'd say NBC fumbled, but this is a hockey blog...they turned the puck over in the slot...