A lot of numbers coming up, and all of them saying good things about the TV ratings for Saturday’s game at snowy Soldier Field.
From NBC Sports Group:
NBC’s primetime coverage of Saturday night’s NHL Stadium Series game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks (8-11:15 p.m. ET) from Soldier Field in Chicago averaged 2.8 million viewers and produced a 1.7 HH rating, making it the most-watched and highest-rated NHL regular-season game, excluding Winter Classics and regional coverage, since the advent of People Meters (1987), according to Fast National data from The Nielsen Company.
Average viewership for Saturday night’s primetime telecast on NBC, in which the Blackhawks defeated the Penguins, 5-1, was up 33% compared to NBC’s previous NHL Stadium Series game on Jan. 26 between the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils (1:27-4:30 p.m. ET, 2.1 million).
Locally, Chicago posted a 14.9 rating, making it the highest-rated regular-season Blackhawks game ever on NBC in the Chicago market, even topping the 2009 NHL Winter Classic (11.8), which saw the Detroit Red Wings defeat the Blackhawks, 6-4, at Chicago’s Wrigley Field. In Pittsburgh, the game registered a 13.3 rating. NBC was No. 1 network in both markets from 8-11:15 pm ET.
Vancouver Canucks head coach John Tortorella knows many people – Roberto Luongo included – are mad about Eddie Lack starting in the 2014 Heritage Classic, but he stands by his decision.
“Lack deserved to play this game but Lui has done everything we’ve asked of him,” Tortorella said, according to QMI’s Hosea Chung.
“Lui’s pissed … but I have to make decisions which I think will give our team the best chance to win.”
The Canucks didn’t win on Sunday, as Lack & Co. fell to the Ottawa Senators 4-2. Tortorella said he knows that fans are upset, but he can’t just make decisions to make people happy.
Eddie Lack didn’t pretend that fans weren’t chanting for Luongo at times on Sunday. Instead, he just tried to block out those distractions.
“It’s their opinion,” Lack said. ” … I’m ok with it. I’m just trying to play the best I can out there.”
Despite this honest approach, the Lack – Luongo drama just seems to add another headache to a tense situation for the Canucks and their fans.
The 2014 Heritage Classic ended with fireworks, but the real show for many Vancouver Canucks fans came when it became clear that Eddie Lack would start over Roberto Luongo. Lack experienced some tough moments against the Ottawa Senators in an eventual 4-2 loss, only exasperating a shaky atmosphere around the team.
PHT’s Cam Tucker and Jason Brough were at the game, capturing how John Tortorella’s decision didn’t sit well with some fans.
Tucker deftly evoked the Canucks second most recent goalie controversy involving Luongo:
It’s almost become commonplace to feel bad for Luongo, but many believe that Lack is just unlucky to be dragged into the latest round of Canucks drama.
The disturbing thing for the Canucks is that this isn’t the only area of unease for the team, management and its fans. Regardless of denials, there are plenty of rumblings about Ryan Kesler being traded. Tortorella has made more than a few candid remarks about the makeup of the team prompting changes. To add injury to all the insults, Daniel Sedin suffered a lower-body ailment on Sunday, too.
It’s as if the Canucks hosted this big event at one of their most dysfunctional times. Consider the fact that this tweet went out before a loss in which Vancouver squandered a 2-0 lead to fall 4-2:
The Canucks have one more game (Tuesday at Phoenix) before the trade deadline. Fans won’t have to wait long to see if Sunday’s defeat was something of a swansong for a key member or two.
Then again, knowing this franchise, the drama could very well extend into the offseason (and maybe beyond).