The Washington Times - April 19, 2011, 04:11PM

In years and money, it’s a lot – the NHL’s new TV deal with NBC and Versus that lasts for 10 and is worth a total of $2 billion. But what does it mean to you, the hockey fan? Well, that’s what we’ll try to explain here.

First of all, it means more hockey on national television. Say what you want about how NBC and Versus present the game, which analysts and broadcasters they use and everything else, but the volume will be there: 100 regular-season games plus every single one in the playoffs.


 Just like the Center Ice commercial says, if you’re a Capitals fan in Utah and want to see every game, get the package. But for casual hockey fans and those living within local markets will enjoy this new deal because it means NBC getting games starting in November and no need to go to a bar to catch out-of-market playoff action.

NBC will now feature an annual Black Friday game (the day after Thanksgiving), which could bring hockey into the national consciousness earlier than usual, when the Winter Classic enters the spotlight Jan. 1.

Come playoff time, this means more national TV and less from Comcast SportsNet – as regional networks get the ax starting in the second round now. Versus and NBC get exclusive coverage from the second round through the Stanley Cup Finals (beginning next season, of course).

In the Finals, NBC has Games 1, 2, 5, 6 and 7 (*if necessary) and Versus has Games 3 and 4.

As far as on-ice product and what it means to the Caps and other teams, the new TV deal could bring a series of (mostly good) things. First of all, more revenue league-wide means the salary cap should go up more than usual, starting with 2012-13. That is contingent on a new collective bargaining agreement next summer, but the new TV deal could also make a lockout less likely.

And for everyone who loves Olympic hockey, the NHL having a deal in place with NBC through 2021-22 can only be a positive sign toward participation in the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia.

Have any more questions about what this new deal means to you? Tweet me at @SWhyno.