HOCKEY IS ONE MONTH AWAY - Can You Believe It !!

<TABLE cellSpacing=3 cellPadding=0 width=510 border=0><TBODY><TR><TD class=headline>OLN, NBC release TV schedules for 2005-06</TD></TR><TR><TD>
NEW YORK (August 31, 2005) - The National Hockey League (NHL) today announced the U.S. national television network schedule for the 2005-06 regular-season. New television partners OLN and NBC will highlight the national television debuts of teen-age Pittsburgh phenomenon Sidney Crosby, Phoenix head coach Wayne Gretzky, and Philadelphia superstar Peter Forsberg.

OLN, the exclusive cable partner of the NHL, begins its 58-game schedule Opening Night (Oct. 5, 7 p.m., ET) when the re-vamped Philadelphia Flyers, led by scoring sensation Peter Forsberg, host Atlantic Division rival, the New York Rangers. On Monday, Oct. 10 (7 p.m., ET), U.S. fans will see Crosby's national television debut when the Penguins visit Buffalo. The following night, Tuesday, Oct. 11 (7 p.m. ET), Wayne Gretzky will be behind the Coyotes' bench as Phoenix faces a Pacific Division foe, Dallas.

OLN's exclusive NHL coverage, which spotlights the new rivalry based-schedule, continues throughout the season on Monday and Tuesday nights. Featured are such games as Boston vs. Montreal (Oct. 18, 7:30 p.m., ET), Chicago vs. Detroit (Nov. 1, 7:30 p.m., ET), Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia (Nov. 16, 7 p.m., ET), Anaheim vs. Los Angeles (Jan. 23, 10:30 p.m., ET) and Colorado vs. Detroit (Feb. 12, 5 p.m., ET).

NBC Sports' broadcast season begins Saturday, Jan. 14 with three regional games, highlighted by Forsberg facing his former team, Colorado, for the first time. Other games include marquee matchups between the Rangers and Detroit Red Wings, and Mike Modano and the Dallas Stars visiting Joe Thornton and the Boston Bruins.

NBC will preview the NHL season, and examine how the new rule changes will transform the game, with a half-hour show on Saturday, Oct. 1, at 2 p.m., ET.

NBC Sports will present six weeks of Saturday afternoon regular-season action: Jan. 14, Jan. 21, Jan. 28, Feb. 4, April 8 and April 15. Schedule highlights include Crosby, Pittsburgh owner and captain Mario Lemieux and the rest of the Penguins hosting the Flyers on Jan. 21, and the Red Wings visiting their Conference rivals, the Avalanche, on Jan. 28.

On-air talent, new broadcast enhancements and playoff coverage will be released at a later date for both networks.

The waiting seemed like an eternity. Oh wait! It was.

NBC got a good deal with some of the best rivalries. Some of those games are going to be a must-see.

As a gambler, I'm concerned about the O/U line, which should be averaged at 6.5 as opposed to 4.5 the previous years. I expect the refs to be tight for a few months and they'll start accomodating the team that's trailing, as usual. So the RL should be a good bet early.

I'm not getting much feedback right now except for the usual 'we'll surprise many' and 'they will be cup contenders'. But considering all the new rules, average players will suddenly become offensive threats. Therefore, defense becomes more important than ever. The size of the goalie is also more significant. A guy like Jocelyn Thibault is gonna have a hard time adjusting to the new equipment and covering his angles.

Enough rambling. Let the games begin!

M$M....I didn't follow after OLN out bid ESPN...Exactly when and where did NBC make their way into the deal? Or was it pre-existing?

Glaken, I don't believe they worked out a new deal with NBC. This should be the existing deal made last year. I think it was a 2-year contract. Whether the deal starts this season or they modified it for this year only, I don't know.