Posted on: April 19, 2008 2:55 pm

Wealth of NHL outlets, ESPN rant

Fans of the NHL have it pretty good in my opinion, despite ESPN's hatred of the League.
I was in the Philadelphia area the other morning and watched SportsRise again.
Another NHL player bump, and the show started out with about 10 minuets of a recent Flyers - Capitals playoff game. Outstanding. This is what I'd like to see for every game, especially during the playoffs. Versus should have this amount of in-depth coverage. Every sports network should, especially one that bills itself as the world wide leader.
Anyway, about the same time last week when I was raving about the improvements to NHL.com, Eric McErlain wrote an article that the NHL has a wealth of outlets. I had meant to comment on all he did, but instead focused on NHL.com. He has some really good points, and I agree with him.
By the way, the NHL.tv improvements there are pretty impressive. That's where the NHL made the upgrades as far as I can tell. Seven channels of NHL goodness. I have two complaints, and they're pretty minor - commercials and the look and feel. If the advertisements were of a beer I liked, they'd be easier to swallow. Also if the look and feel were more Mac-like, then I wouldn't complain about that at all.
Anyway there are many outlets for the NHL besides online - Fox regional networks, Versus,  and NBC in the states. Also there's CenterIce and the NHL Network. I'm sure there is a wealth of coverage in Canada already. In any case, I'm tired of many fans who say the NHL should be back on ESPN. With the wealth of other outlets the League doesn't need the four-letter network.
Excuse my while I rant, but the League went with two other American networks post-lockout - NBC and Versus. Versus caters more to the League's liking. Versus, then OLN, offered more money than ESPN, if it even did. I can't remember now and would have to do some research. Research I've done numerous times, each time I read fans advocating the League go back to the four-letter network. By the way, three ESPN employees - Colin Cowherd, Mike Greenberg and president George Bodenheimer, routinely ridicule the NHL. Many more of its employees do too. This obviously starts from the top and continues all the way down. The company's employees make it a very harsh environment for the NHL. Given that, it doesn't make sense to me why the League would want ESPN to broadcast it's games. Sure it's in more homes, but that isn't good enough. It has to be willing to show games and showcase the League in other ways, which it didn't. A classic example of this but in another sport is the IRL on ESPN. That should be a symbiotic relationship, but I bet it isn't in IRL's view. I know it isn't to IRL fan and writer Robin Miller. I heard  him the other day with JMV on WNDE that during a recent SportsCenter the talking heads spent all of 44 seconds mentioning Graham Rahal's win. The talking heads then went back to NFL coverage. IRL is in season now, the NFL is not. This is a classic example and there are many others of how the four-letter network treats leagues it doesn't like or favor. This is the same way the it treats the NHL now and when it broadcasted NHL games. The network ditched NHL2Night in 2003 - pre-lockout and when it broadcasted NHL games. Add to all this ESPN would rather showcase its own talking heads and make them celebrities, than cover sports in a meaningful way, there is absolutely NO reason for the NHL to go back to ESPN. Pardon me; rant completed.
Anyway, it's been more than a month since I started my ESPN boycott. Aside from occasionally seeing it when I channel surf, or when I am at a sports bar, I'm doing pretty well. I am missing some baseball games and IRL races, so that hurts. Still, hockey takes precedence, and I will continue with my boycott. I'd be more upset if I watched it than if I don't.
Category: NHL
Tags: ESPN, IRL, JMV, NBC, NHL, Versus, WNDE
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com