Sirius (NASDAQ:SIRI) has a new message: The puck stops here. Forty times a week.

The satellite radio operator has signed a deal with National Hockey League to air hundreds of games this season, including the playoffs and the Stanley Cup Finals. In addition, the company paid an undisclosed sum to become "The Official Satellite Radio Sponsor of the NHL." (Quite an honor, considering there's only one other operator in existence: XM Satellite Radio (NASDAQ:XMSR).)

Why would a profitless company with approximately six quarters of cash left in its coffers shell out money for such a deal? Simple. It hopes the games -- which are included at no additional charge beyond the normal $12.96 monthly fee -- will attract more subscribers.

The Wall Street Journal likens the situation to DirecTV's (NYSE:GMH) sports deals in its early days. Sirius CEO Joseph Clayton told the paper he considers the dynamics of satellite radio similar to early satellite television. "Our objective is to increase our sports variety with additional professional and collegiate leagues." Clayton is also hoping to renew a contract with the National Basketball Association.

Sirius is still far behind in the subscriber race -- it had 105,000 paying customers at the end of June, while XM reported 929,000 yesterday. And it's still a risky play, being No. 2 in an industry that may see only one ultimate survivor. But as long as the company didn't overpay for the rights, deals like the one today are small steps in the right direction.