RALEIGH — The Carolina Hurricanes have signed a new television rights deal that general manager Jim Rutherford calls a “big step” for the franchise.
The Hurricanes and Fox Sports Carolinas have reached a multi-year agreement that will bring the team added exposure and added revenue, and could enhance their opportunity to pursue some of the league's best free agents. Beginning in the 2013-2014 season, all of the Canes games -- regular-season and playoffs -- will be televised by Fox Sports Carolinas or by the NHL's national TV partners.
“Based on where we started when we first came into this market (in 1997), it's big for us,” Rutherford said Thursday. “While not getting into the specifics, it's a long-term deal with a nice increase in rights fees. It helps strengthen our business.”
Under the current television deal, 65 of the Hurricanes' 82 regular-season games are being shown this season. The number of the televised games will remain the same in the 2012-2013 season.
“Our die-hard fans don't want to miss a thing, don't want to miss a game,” Rutherford said. “We've heard that a lot over the years. Starting with the 2013-14 season, all the games will be on -- a luxury the big-market teams have had.”
Fox Sports Carolinas will continue to produce the pregame and postgame shows for the Hurricanes telecasts. The pregame package was added this season.
Rutherford said the contracts for television play-by-play announcer John Forslund, game analyst Tripp Tracy and radio broadcaster Chuck Kaiton all expire this year.
"When the season's over we'll take care of those contracts," Rutherford said. "They're all good at their jobs."
The Hurricanes (31-31-15) are positioned to miss the playoffs for a third straight season, and Rutherford has said a top priority in the offseason is obtaining a goal-scoring winger to play with star center Eric Staal. The team also could be in the market for other top-end free agents.
The new television rights deal, Rutherford said, “Helps us grow as a business and gives us that possibility. We're not just going to sign anybody. The guy we're looking for will be a top-tier player.
“We feel we're in position to make that move now, which would give us the opportunity to move up in the pecking order.”