Just wondering. And this goes back to the ABC days. Games 1 and 2 were on ESPN while the rest of the series was on ABC. Now Games 2 and 3 are on Versus/NBCSN. My question is, why can't all games be on the over-the-air network just like in other sports?
Without seeing the contract itself, I can say with some degree of certainty that it is part of the original TV deal between the broadcaster and the NHL. NBC wants people to subscribe to NBC Sports Network. What better way to do that than to guarantee that the biggest games in the NHL are aired on NBC Sports Network.
Game 1 is exciting, it's the finals, people will tune in! Game 2 and 3 are "meaningless", less people will watch. Game 4-7 are the Cup-winning games so you want everyone to watch it on national TV not cable.
You know that's not what we're discussing, so why bring it up?
Today, it makes sense for NBCU to want games on NBCSN to drive people over there. People who may have not watched a game all season but all of a sudden get interested in the Final will have to scurry to their program guide to figure out where they can find it.
During the ESPN era, only answer I have is ABC didn't think the ratings warranted all the games being there. And that could certainly hold true today.