Pens vs. Caps Sunday Game in Jeopardy?

According to Yahoo sports, due to a heavy snowstorm that's hit the Washington, D.C. area, tomorrow's scheduled Washington / Pittsburgh game is in jeopardy of being postponed. The Penguins are in Montreal today for an afternoon game against the Canadiens, and won't be able to leave Montreal before this evening. With tomorrow's game scheduled to start at noon, the Penguins might not be able to get to Washington in time for the tilt.

Winter weather warnings are in effect in the D.C. area until 10 PM tonight. Some areas have been hit with nearly 3 feet of snow, while the average has been hovering around 2 feet, according to Bloomberg. While most of us canucks are used to extreme weather and lots of snow, Washington is halfway down the US Atlantic coast, and 2 feet of snow is kind of a big deal. The nation's capital is seemingly at a standstill today, a near shut-down, as the region deals with record snowfall. Over 200,000 people in Virginia and Maryland have lost power, and it could get worse before it gets better. The storm has been described by some as a "Snowpocalypse".

While it wouldn't be the first time a game would have been cancelled or post-poned due to weather, it could be more disastrous than any other cancelled game in the league's history. The game has been heavily hyped and touted as Crosby vs. Ovechkin round II, and it is scheduled to air as NBC's weekly Sunday afternoon game.

Not only would a postponed or cancelled game mean loss of revenue for NBC (well, clearly, that's not that big of a deal for them...) and the NHL (they would probably bury it in the accounting process anyway), but it could mean that this highly anticipated match-up could be a radio-only affair. NBC has the exclusive rights to the game, and if it had to be postponed until Monday or Tuesday evening, they would have to clear their airwaves of regularly scheduled primetime programming.

With only a few nights left before NBC begins broadcasting the Olympics, and lots of finales and new episodes to broadcasts, the odds of NBC postponing a new episode of "Chuck" and the finale of "Heroes" on monday, or a two-hour "Biggest Loser" on Tuesday (not to mention the fail boat that is the Jay Leno Show at 10), the odds of that happening are slim to none.

If that wasn't bad enough, tomorrow is Super Bowl Sunday, and an afternoon hockey game between two of the best and most exciting teams in the league might have been exactly what the doctor ordered for millions of sports fans starting off the biggest sports day of the year.

On a local front, people might not even be able to get to the game. From Puck Daddy at Yahoo Sports:

"It seems to me a lot of the calls are going to be based on whether the Penguins can get here," said Nate Ewell, director of media relations for the Caps, who said the last snowed out game in D.C. was in 1993. "At that point, it's then a question about whether people can get to the arena from wherever they live."

[...]

"We operate from one premise, which is that we play this game at the bad-weather time of year, with hearty fans and hearty players. Inconvenience is not the standard -- it's safety," said John Dellapina, director of media relations for the NHL.

"If mass transit is running, if the streets are clear, if the Penguins can get in, they're going to play the game. And it's not if the Penguins can get in at 8 p.m. the night before -- it's if the Penguins can get in at a reasonable time to play the game."

What's reasonable? That's a nebulous concept for the NHL on a lot of issues, and this is no different. If they can't get in on Saturday but can get in Sunday morning, it's game-on -- unless the NHL decides to call the game on Saturday night. Bottom line, via Dellapina: "They're not going to let people leave their homes if there's no chance of a game at noon."

If the game cannot be played, NBC will broadcast "NHL related" programming in it's time slot. Needless to say, this could end up being a huge missed opportunity for the NHL and NBC.