It will be made official during a news conference at noon central time today that the NHL and NBC/Versus have agreed on a contract extension for TV rights. Reports are saying that the extension will last 10 years. There were also reports that ESPN, Fox and TNT were interested in broadcasting NHL games, but it sounds as if the money involved was very substantial.
In other news, the Houston Aeros have taken a 3-0 series lead on the Peoria Rivermen in the first round of the Calder Cup playoffs. The Aeros can close out the series in Peoria tonight.
Houston is getting contributions from everybody, especially youngsters who could very well be wearing Wild uniforms next season. Colton Gillies and Chad Rau each have two goals, while Maxim Noreau has three assists, Casey Wellman has a goal and two assists and Matt Hackett is 3-0 with a 1.88 goals against average and a .910 save percentage. Of the 18 skaters to have played a playoff game, only two – Drew Bagnall and Matt Kassian – have yet to record a point.
Marco Scandella hasn’t yet seen playoff action, but the hope is that he’ll be able to return from his broken finger during this series. Seeing as how the Aeros may be able to close the series tonight, it’s possible Head Coach Mike Yeo holds the stud defenseman out and gets him fully ready for the next round, or Game 5 if necessary.
Also, there were some comments relating to last week’s post about the World Championships and the lack of a mention for Martin Havlat and Marek Zidlicky on the Czech Republic roster. Both of those players missed the final week of the Wild regular season and their health was in question. It now sounds as if both will be able to play, but as far as I’ve seen, there hasn’t been anything official released (at least in English).