Sunday, May 06, 2012

ESPN and the lack of hockey coverage

I read a couple of articles and blog posts in the past week about ESPN not having NHL coverage on any of their channels anymore. Frankly, the first thought that came to my mind was - that ship has sailed – it may never come back again. I don't think we really need to worry about that because the void has been filled by a much better product.

To be honest with you, after watching ESPN’s brutal coverage of the NCAA Hockey tourney, who really cares anymore?

Enter NBC Sports Network formerly known as Versus and originally was the Outdoor Life Network has evolved and filled the void that ESPN left after the NHL lockout and has gotten better which each year that has passed since the NHL lockout.

NBC Sports Network has started coving college hockey as well, and for the most part NBC Sports Net has done a pretty good job in the broadcasts that they did last winter. I look forward to watching more of their broadcast next winter. Maybe we can get ESPN to drop their Division I NCAA College Hockey coverage all together as well and let NBC and or CBS take over college hockey for them.

ESPN will will then be free to show NFL and College football, NBA and College Basketball and Billiards on their sports network. While we are at it, ESPN can keep Barry Melrose, there is no use for him in college hockey and he isn't very good at breaking down the NHL either.

Just to be clear, I not trying to snub CBS Sports Network, they do a very good job with their hockey coverage as well and will be the future home of NCHC beginning in 2013-14.

So why is there a disconnect or a lack of hockey coverage? Recently, Ed Sherman asked Vince Doria, ESPN’s senior vice-president and director of news Vince Doria, why ESPN hates hockey. This is what he had to say.
We don’t hate hockey. When I worked in Boston (as sports editor of the Boston Globe), I probably went to more Bruins games than Celtics. There’s probably not a better in-the-house sport than hockey. Watching it live. My own personal feeling is that it never transferred well to television. I’m not exactly sure why that is. [Sherman Report]

I don’t agree with that argument and I think it’s a load of horse manure, if that was true why do people purchase the NHL package from their cable provider or satellite dish providers? Hockey fanatics want to see NHL Hockey and they want to be able to watch games from all over the NHL Hockey spectrum every night of the week during the hockey season.

I wouldn’t walk across the street to watch a NBA basketball game, I don't care who is playing, nor would I turn to ESPN to watch college or NBA basketball, but I would pay $160.00 to watch anyone in the NHL play hockey on my television set, any night of the week.

I remember the good ole days of hockey coverage on ESPN and ESPN2, this was pre-NHL lockout when NHL hockey was on two or three nights a week and then on every night during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, of course ESPN picked the teams that you were going to watch and we got a heavy dose of the New York Rangers and the Pittsburgh Penguins, but for the most part it gave us "decent" hockey.

That was then and this is now – NBC Sports Network has made us forget that ESPN has ever shown a hockey game on their network - NBCSN has shown all of the games exclusively during this season's Stanley Cup Playoffs, so we're good. When there have been two games on at the same time NBC has had the other game on the news channel CNBC. In closing, we can say to ESPN that we don't need you for hockey coverage anymore and you don't have to pretend to like hockey on any level, because we know the truth.
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