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Second verse, same as the first.

Monday, July 30, 2007
Before I get back to the grind that is known as apartment packing, I thought it was worth it to check in here at Army of the Ohio after I got an e-mail today from a friend of mine, as well as ran in to this entry by Paul over at Kukla's Korner. In it, the SportsBusiness Journal reveals to us all that the NHL and ESPN -- the self-crowned Worldwide Leader in Sports -- are in the preliminary stages of talks that could bring the league back to Bristol.

Suffice it to say, this definitely got me sitting upright in my recliner after a rather boring summer.

If the comments in Kukla's post are any indication, the possibility of returning to ESPN -- or rather, ESPN2 -- brings about highly mixed feelings, ranging from pleasure to outright disgust. Not that that should come as a surprise to anyone out there or anything.

My thoughts on the matter? Well, it's hard to say right now, considering just how many hurdles need to be gotten over before this would even happen. The preliminary discussions are about putting games on ESPN2 only as soon as the 2008-09 season, for one, meaning NBC will have one full season to bury the NHL with its watered down, Mike Milbury-hosted coverage. Additionally, Versus owns all exclusive rights to the NHL when it comes to cable coverage, meaning they would have to give the green light for this to happen.

Then there's the matter of if any of the games would get coverage on ESPN, and not just ESPN2. Also, would ESPN/ESPN2 only cover the number of games that NBC was obligated to cover under their contract with the NHL? And would all of the NHL Stanley Cup Finals then be stuck all the way on ESPN2? I'm not about to make the presumption that once the Finals roll around, they'd actually air it on ABC ... that's way too much of an optimistic view there.

So for the moment, it's an extremely ugly mess that needs some untangling before any serious considerations or opinions put out by the average fan can be considered legitimate.

Still ... it's an unfortunate reality that if the NHL wants to cling to whatever claim it has left to being the 4th major sport in the United States, ESPN is a necessity. And considering Versus' inability to grab any headline sports to cover outside of the Tour de France and obscure Division I-A football conferences, it would be in its best interest to give the NHL the green light here, so long as Versus gets a bit more coverage in return. The article in SBJ even mentions that they'd like something akin to ESPN's partnership with TNT and their sharing of cable coverage of the NBA.

With that, I am out. I still need to pack up some of my jerseys hanging on the walls in here, along with some portraits. Man, moving is such a pain ... but it'll be so worth it once I'm done.

Labels: , , ,

  • At 7:29 PM, Blogger PB said…

    Michael -

    I wouldn't call the Pac Ten or Big 12 obscure football conferences. I think Versus has its problems due to exposure on cable companies and tiered packages, but by their attempts at airing sports is only a good step in the right direction. It's up to the consumer to yell at their cable systems to get the channels they want.

    When ESPN started out, they struggled mightily for any coverage at all for any sport. It's when they went corporate that they left their roots of emphasizing the Sports in the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network.

    Count me in the "ESPN Johnny-Come-Lately" group. I'm pretty disgusted that they want the NHL back after not promoting it, after not airing highlights on SportsCenter, after having its personalities run it down, and so on...

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Name: Michael
Home: San Tan Valley, Arizona, United States
About Me: A mid-20s male who feels much too old even before he's 30. Has a degree in Sport Management and after branching out and trying a few other things in the job market, has finally decided to go back to his first love of hockey and hope he can break in with a team, big or small, somehow.
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