This weekend series with Denver will have a slightly different twist to it.
Friday night's game will not only be telecast on My Madison TV and statewide on Charter Cable and Time Warner Cable, but it will also be carried on the NHL Network. That means Denver and Wisconsin fans can not only watch the game nationally, but across Canada as well.
The NHL Network signed a one-year deal for broadcast rights to games in the WCHA, CCHA, and ECAC last October. The broadcast package provides the NHL Network with 19 "Game of the Week” match ups.
These telecasts across the United States and Canada allows hockey fans to see the quality of play, and a look at some of the future stars of the NHL.
The biggest benefactor for this coverage could be for recruiting. It gives the teams a chance to showcase their program. The games could give prospective players a chance to see the style of play, and how their talents may fit with a particular program. It also gives universities like Wisconsin a chance to showcase the Kohl Center facility and fan support that they get.
The WCHA have been very successful at recruiting players who had great success at the collegiate level before moving to the NHL.
The league has sent just over 400 players to the NHL. Sixty-five percent of those players have come from Minnesota, North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Denver. The Gophers have had 76 players put on the NHL jersey, the Fighting Sioux 69, the Badgers 64, and the Pioneers 54.
Wisconsin has had seven goaltenders play in the NHL which is the most of any team in the WCHA. Those seven goalies are Marc Behrend, Jim Carey, Brian Elliott, Curtis Joseph, Terry Klesinger, Mike Richter and Wayne Thomas.
Right now Wisconsin has 16 players who have played at least one game this season in the NHL. The latest being Davis Drewiske, who was recently called up by the L.A. Kings. Others include Kyle Turris and Steve Reinprecht with Phoenix, Jack Skille and Adam Burish with Chicago, Rene Bourque with Calgary, Brain Rafalski and Chris Chelios with Detroit and Tom Gilbert with Edmonton.
Also included in that group are Ryan Suter with Nashville, Joe Pavelski in San Jose, Brad Winchester and Andy Wozniewski in St. Louis, and Brian Elliott and Dany Heatley in Ottawa.
When you check out the careers of some of those 64 Badgers who have played in the NHL, you see some unbelievable achievements. In fact, if you could magically have all of the following Badgers on one team you could probably win the Stanley Cup.
Click here to see what such a line chart might look like.
Those 20 players alone played more then 17,000 games, scored over 2,100 goals and had almost 6,700 points.
Between Curtis Joseph and Mike Richter they played over 2,800 games and won more then 850 of them. They also have 100 shutouts.
That kind of success puts Wisconsin in very elite status in terms of programs that have sent players on to the National Hockey League.
Also, when you consider that the Badgers have seven first and second-round draft choices in Jake Gardiner, Cody Goloubef, Jamie McBain, Ryan McDonagh, Brendan Smith, Blake Geoffrion and Derek Stepan, the chances are very good that the total number of Badgers who will have played in the NHL is going to go up very shortly.
At the same time it is nice to point out the success that Wisconsin players have had in the NHL, I do not want to forget about the hundreds of other Badger players who have not play pro hockey but have had great success with their careers and in there personal lives.
The contributions they made to the Badger program are just as important to the success and prestige that Wisconsin has developed as one of the premier college hockey programs in the country.