The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on May 18, 1985 · Page 74
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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 74

West Palm Beach, Florida
Issue Date:
Saturday, May 18, 1985
Page 74
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NHL Looking for Cash From Neiv TV Contract The Post, Saturday, May 18, 1985-D9 Ardent pro hockey fans have noticed the disappearance of Dan Kelly from the USA Network's NHL telecasts this season. There's a lot more going on behind the scenes they probably haven't noticed. Kelly, the acknowledged expert among American hockey announcers, left USA's broadcasts early in the 1984-85 season after signing a mul-tiyear contract to broadcast games for Canada's CTV. He will return for at least three games of the best-of-seven Stanley Cup finals, which begin Tuesday night, but that may be the last American audiences see of him for, some time. Kelly also does the St. Louis Blues network, and has stated he won't do all three come next season. "It's unclear how that's going to come out," said Jim Zrake, 37, executive producer of the USA telecasts. "But we've got other problems to worry about before we consider that one." USA came close to losing the NHL to ESPN last season. A contract stipulation that gave USA the right to match any other offer forced USA to pay a reported $4 million for 60 games, 40 in the regular season and 20 more in the playoffs. That's $1 million more than it paid in 1983-84, but' could be far below the cost of next season's package. USA has lost that right of first refusal, meaning the NHL will choose the highest bidder. "I think the league is taking the opportunity to see what the market is going to bear this time around," Zrake said. "They're seeing what's going on in the other pro leagues and want to try the open market themselves." What's going on in the other pro leagues is contracts like the one Major League Baseball signed with both NBC and ABC last year, which brings it $525 million from each over five years. And even if the NHL's TV ratings don't approach those of baseball averaging 1.0 for the regular season and about twice that for playoffs statistics indicate the viewers are above average in both income and education. From the cable networks' standpoint, the lure of the NHL is a deal with a major league that has no contract with a major network. Thus, hockey can offer USA, ESPN or even WTBS (which won't join in the bidding this year) the opportunity to showcase not only regular-season games but also the playoffs, including the championship series. "Our feeling is that when we deal with one network, we can have 60 exposures a season over 40 percent of the country, as those networks are now carried in more than 30 million homes," said NHL director of broadcasting Joel Nixon. Brian V Bi99ane 0 TV Radio ( I "That's why we look toward an emerging national cable market, so we can become something along the lines of a king-size Wide World of Sports." ESPN's description of itself as The Total Sports Network rings hollow without the NHL, a shortfall that the cable network could well correct when bidding for the 1985-86 package gets under way in the next month or so. Still, hockey has become the plum of USA's limited sports programming and Zrake, who has been in charge of USA's hockey programming for the past five years, is justifiably proud of the network's effort. "You've got to give them credit," said the league's Nixon. "They ferreted out (analyst) Gary Green and recruited Dan Kelly and they've both done a good job over the years." USA has also cultivated between-periods host Al Trautwig, who will leave the network next month to join ABC. What complaints there have been this season have mostly involved Al Albert, USA's No. 2 play-by-play man the previous two years who has been in the no-win situation of replacing Kelly. "He's not as good as Kelly, but I think he's improved a lot this year and overall has done an excellent job," said Zrake. True enough. But just as Montreal Canadien fans cherish memories of the late Danny Gallivan's "He shoots ... He scores!" trademark, so Kelly has come to be the epitome of the hockey announcer to the loyal breed of U.S. fans. Notes ... NBC has a prime-time boxing card of note Monday night featuring champion Larry Holmes against unbeaten (16-0) Carl (The Truth) Williams from 9-11 p.m. The network is trying something unique, superimposing the 3-minute clock on the screen for the entire round and, instead of counting down, counting through the round the way the official timekeeper does it . . . CBS offers NBA Eastern Conference playoff action today and Sunday from Philadelphia. Game 3 is today at 3:30 p.m. and Game 4 Sunday at 1 p.m. Inexplicably, Game 4 of the Western Conference series Sunday in Denver will not be aired. All games of the final series will be televised live by CBS. OPEN Young Flyers Await Final NHL Playoffs PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The Philadelphia Flyers are no strangers to the Stanley Cup finals, having been there four times in the previous decade. But virtually all the players who have been through the championship grinder for them are either gone or in the front office. Only left wing Brian Propp, the Flyers' best all-around forward, remains from the most recent Philadelphia team to make it this far in 1980, when they lost to the New York Islanders. Bobby Clarke, who captained the Flyers to the Cup in 1974 and 1975 and into the finals in 1976 and 1980, now is the team's general manager. Bill Barber, Clarke's left wing all those years, is an assistant coach, although he is hopeful of returning from a knee injury to play next season. And Bernie Parent, the star goal-tender in the championship years, also is an assistant, in charge of instructing goalies. But Flyers coach Mike Keenan, himself a rookie in the NHL following success on the minor-league and Ca nadian college level, isn't worried that the defending champion Edmonton Oilers may have an edge in title-game experience. The Oilers will open the best-of-seven series Tuesday night at the Spectrum. "These players have been through so much this season, so many tight situations, pressure situations, that they should be ready for and able to react to anything," Keenan said. "It seems that our players don't know they are supposed to lose, and maybe sometimes that helps." Keenan coaches the youngest team in the NHL, but the players have been tested enough to assure the Flyers are prepared for the challenge of the Oilers or so Keenan hopes. "You never know when a young team is going to bend," said Keenan. . "We bend a lot but we never break . . . and that's why we are here." FREE SEMINAR AND MOVIE Lake Okeechobee's INVESTOR VACATION 8. RETIREMENT HOMES at Kings Bay LEARN ABOUT: Low, low cost-of-living area House, garage lot from $39,900-fully furnished Medical center on property Managementrental programs Action fishing with tour guide Full-time entertainment director Golf, country club and much, much more. 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