Wednesday, August 01, 2007

At Least They're Talking

The buzz among hockey fans recently has been all about the talks between the NHL and ESPN about getting the NHL back onto ESPN. Of course it looks as if the NHL is going to trade their U.S. National TV contract with NBC in favor of being sequestered (again) on ESPN2.

Personally, the NHL should pass on this kind of deal. Nothing and I mean NOTHING is going to cement the NHL's status as a "second tier"/ "fringe" sport as taking themselves off of broadcast television and putting themselves on a secondary ESPN network for nine regular season games and the playoffs, including the Stanley Cup Finals. Furthermore, just because NHL games will be on the ESPN family of networks does not mean that ESPN will treat the NHL with any more respect.

The NHL should at least insist on having the playoff games on regular ESPN and the Stanley Cup Finals on ABC if nothing else. The freaking X-Games gets airtime on regular ESPN and ABC for crying out loud. Is the NHL so desperate for ESPN's attention that they'll willingly take a back seat to the X-Games?

But what this really shows is just how desperate the NHL is to find TV coverage despite all the rosy reports you hear from various League officials, owners, and other "interested observers" about how the NHL is in great shape. If the NHL was in such good shape and a "hot growing commodity" ESPN would be begging the NHL to come back, not the other way around.

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