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ESPN and the World Cup of Hockey
For the first time since 2004, the World Cup of Hockey is back! The international ice hockey tournament, an NHL sanctioned event, returns to stardom this summer in Toronto, Ontario. And, ironically enough, it will also be the first time since 2004 that hockey fans in the states will be able to watch Hockey on ESPN!
Maybe you remember ESPN National Hockey Night. From 1992 through 2004, ESPN had rights to the NHL. But that all changed after the lockout. The two sides parted ways as the League moved on to sign with the Outdoor Life Network, which became Versus, which became NBS Sports Network. And they’ve both received a lot of guff for the decision. Especially with the advent of Twitter, ESPN has certainly taken their fair share of smack talk from fans and even NHL teams.
This move could be the first step for the NHL and ESPN though. They will be carrying all of the round robin games as well as the champion series. Both NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman have expressed their excitement, and now, so am I.
The other night I flipped on the NHL Network and caught the end of the Caps game, but stayed to watch the Kamloops Blazers face the Kelowna Rockets, out of Western Canada. I love the NHL Network, don’t get me wrong. But the ESPN has a great opportunity in front of them. It’s time to get back into bed with the greatest sport of all time (In this humble fan’s opinion).
There’s a ton of untapped potential that could come from this partnership revival, even if it’s just for this one tournament. Maybe they begin to work their way back to a full NHL partnership, but for now they should set their sights on getting back into the hockey scene.
Very easy, they could begin to boost their coverage of the NHL. But even more so, there is a lot more hockey out there than just the NHL. And there are certainly a lot of hockey fans across the states who would agree. We have the USHL, the NA3HL, the OHL and the WHL, and that’s only if we are talking about leagues with teams in the States. Let’s not forget College Hockey, both men’s and women’s. And if they want to take a pioneering venture, there is the new National Women’s Hockey League that is looking to grow. The opportunities are there and it can only serve to grow the sport even more in the States.
It’s time to give US fans that kind of hockey coverage they hunger for! ESPN, take this opportunity and run with it!