The NHL & ESPN Find Their Way Back To Each Other

ESPN’s hockey coverage is off the floor and onto the board. 

If that call makes you think of Gary Thorne, then you remember the golden age of hockey broadcasts. From 1992 until 2004 ESPN was in the hockey broadcasting game and they did it excellently. After the lockout, the NHL ended up on OLN (bonus points if you know the acronym) which became Versus, which eventually became NBCSports. With that going away, the NHL was looking for a dance partner and found a familiar face. After a long time away, it was recently announced that ESPN and the NHL had reached a deal for broadcast rights. 

Starting for the 2021-22 season, ESPN signed on for a 7 year, multi-platform deal. Some details from ESPN

“Included will be 25 regular-season games on ESPN or ABC, early-round playoff series and one conference final each year, four Stanley Cup Final series on ABC and more than 1,000 games per season streaming on ESPN+. ESPN+ and Hulu will be home to 75 ESPN-produced exclusive telecasts per season.

The deal also includes opening-night games, the NHL All-Star Game and Skills Challenge and other special events. The NHL’s out-of-market streaming package (NHL.TV) is also moving to ESPN+ as part of its subscription offerings.”

Obviously the ability and reach ESPN has through its parent company Disney, and the ESPN+ and Hulu platforms mean that hockey will be incredibly easy to access in some way shape, or form. 

We don’t know a lot about the kind of coverage ESPN will do or the broadcast team but we do know one thing. The iconic NHL music by Bob Christianson (which kicks the crap out of John Tesh’s Roundball Rock) will be back. 

Seriously, just listen to it while you read this. The real clincher would be if they were able to bring back Gary Thorne. The voice of the NHL for so many years, Throne has stated his interest in talking to ESPN about a role. If he can manage to wrangle Darren Pang and Bill Clement that would be something.

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