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ESPN National Hockey Night

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ESPN National Hockey Night was ESPN's weekly television broadcasts of National Hockey League regular season games and coverage of playoff games, broadcast from 1992 to 2004. ESPN had been slated to broadcast games for the 2004–05 NHL season, but the season's cancellation combined with the NHL reaching an agreement with OLN (now Versus) to broadcast games for the 2005–06 NHL season effectively ended National Hockey Night after the 2003–04 NHL season.

Coverage overviewEdit

1980–1982 and 1985–1988Edit

ESPN initially and previously covered the NHL in 1980-82. They had a rather limited slate of games, which were all broadcast from U.S. arenas: Hartford, Washington, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Minnesota, St. Louis and Colorado in 1980–81 and the New York Islanders (while deleting Hartford) in 1981–82. ESPN covered a selected amount of playoff games in 1982. They covered Game 4 of the New York Islanders-Pittsburgh series and Game 2 of the Minnesota-Chicago series. Sam Rosen and Mickey Redmond were commentators for both games.

ESPN would next broadcast the NHL in 1985–86, taking over from the USA in the American national cable television rights. ESPN aired approximately 33 weekly (Sundays at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time), nationally televised (subject to blackout) regular season games a year (as well as the All-Star Game and entire Stanley Cup Finals). Mike Emrick and Bill Clement served as the main broadcast team for the network's national game broadcasts, while regionally distributed games were handled by a variety of announcers.. ESPN would ultimately go on another hiatus (lasting through the end of the 1991–92 season) from the National Hockey League following the 1987–88 season, when SportsChannel America outbid them.

1992–2004Edit

From its debut in 1992 until the 2001–02 NHL season, weekly regular season games were broadcast on Sundays (between NFL and baseball seasons), Wednesdays, and Fridays, and were titled Sunday/Wednesday/Friday Night Hockey. Prior to the 1999, these telecasts were non-exclusive, meaning they were blacked out in the regions of the competing teams, and an alternate game was shown in these affected areas. Beginning in 1999–2000 season, ESPN was permitted two exclusive telecasts per team per season. When ESPN started broadcasting NBA games on Wednesday and Friday nights in 2002, the weekly hockey broadcasts were moved to Thursday and the broadcasts renamed to Thursday Night Hockey. Beginning in 1993–94, up to five games per week were also shown on ESPN2.

During the Stanley Cup playoffs, ESPN and ESPN2 provided almost nightly coverage, often carrying games on both channels simultaneously. Games in the first two rounds were non-exclusive, while telecasts in the Conference Finals and Finals were exclusive (except in 1993 and 1994), and ESPN will always televise Games 1, and 2 of Stanley Cup Finals, and Games 3-7 will always televise on ABC.

1994-95

Date Network Teams Start times (All times Eastern) Commentator crews
2/5/95 ESPN Pittsburgh at New Jersey 7:30 p.m. Gary Thorne, and Bill Clement.
3/19/95 ESPN Boston at New Jersey 8 p.m. Gary Thorne, and Bill Clement.
3/22/95 ESPN2 New Jersey at N.Y. Rangers 7:30 p.m. Gary Thorne, and Bill Clement.
4/1/95 ESPN2 Montreal at New Jersey 7:30 p.m. Gary Thorne, and Bill Clement
4/26/95 ESPN2 Pittsburgh at New Jersey 7:30 p.m.

OLN/Versus replaces ESPNEdit

Before the 2004–05 lockout, the NHL had reached two separate deals with NBC and ESPN. ESPN offered the NHL $60 million for about 40 games (15 of 40 games would be during the regular season), all on ESPN2, with presumably, only some midweek playoff games, the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final and the All-Star Game airing on ESPN. The NBC deal stipulated that the network would pay the league no rights fees - an unheard of practice to that point. NBC's deal included six regular season windows, seven postseason broadcasts and Games 3–7 of the Stanley Cup Finals in prime-time.

ESPN had a 2 year deal that they opted out of after the lockout, leaving the NHL without a cable partner. In August 2005, Comcast (who owns the Philadelphia Flyers) paid $70 million a year for three years to put games (54 or more NHL games each season under the agreement, generally on Monday and Tuesday nights) on the OLN network, now known as Versus. Due to the abbreviated off-season, the 2005–06 schedule did not offer OLN exclusivity, which they received in 2006–07. Versus will also cover the playoffs and will exclusively air Games 1 and 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals, the consequence was that except for 2006-2008 when NBC televise Games 3-7. Perhaps, Games 1, 2, and 5-7 will always televise on NBC, and Games 3-4 televise on Versus and NBCSN.

Personalities Edit

ESPN did not have fixed broadcast teams during the 1985-86 season. Sam RosenKen WilsonJim HughsonMike Lange, and Jiggs McDonald handled the play-by-play and Mickey RedmondMike LiutGary GreenPaul Steigerwald, and Peter McNab provided color commentary.

Season Broadcasters
1986-87
  1. Mike Emrick-Bill Clement
  2. Sam Rosen-Mickey Redmond or Tom Mees-John Davidson
  3. Ken Wilson-Mike Liut
1987-88
  1. Mike Emrick-Bill Clement
  2. Sam Rosen-Phil Esposito
1992–93
  1. Gary Thorne-Bill Clement
  2. Tom Mees-John Davidson
1993–94
  1. Gary Thorne-Bill Clement
  2. Tom Mees-John Davidson
  3. Steve Levy-Barry Melrose-Darren Pang
1994–95
  1. Gary Thorne-Bill Clement
  2. Tom Mees-John Davidson
  3. Steve Levy-Barry Melrose-Darren Pang
1995–96
  1. Gary Thorne-Bill Clement
  2. Tom Mees-John Davidson
  3. Steve Levy-Barry Melrose-Darren Pang
1996–97
  1. Gary Thorne-Bill Clement
  2. Steve Levy-Darren Pang
  3. Dave Strader-Brian Engblom
1997–98
  1. Gary Thorne-Bill Clement
  2. Steve Levy-Darren Pang
  3. Dave Strader-Brian Engblom
1998–99
  1. Gary Thorne-Bill Clement
  2. Steve Levy-Darren Pang
  3. Dave Strader-Brian Engblom
  4. Jack Edwards-Jim Schoenfeld
  5. Dave Ryan-Joe Micheletti
  6. Joe Beninati-Tony Twist
1999–2000
  1. Gary Thorne-Bill Clement
  2. Steve Levy-Darren Pang
  3. Dave Strader-Brian Engblom
  4. Jack Edwards-Jim Schoenfeld
  5. Dave Ryan-Joe Micheletti
  6. Joe Beninati-Neil Smith
  7. Sean McDonough-Tony Twist
2000–01
  1. Gary Thorne-Bill Clement
  2. Steve Levy-Darren Pang
  3. Dave Strader-Brian Engblom
  4. Jack Edwards-Jim Schoenfeld
  5. Dave Ryan-Joe Micheletti
  6. Joe Beninati-Neil Smith
2001–02
  1. Gary Thorne-Bill Clement
  2. Steve Levy-Darren Pang
  3. Dave Strader-Brian Engblom
  4. Jack Edwards-Jim Schoenfeld
  5. Dave Ryan-Joe Micheletti
  6. Joe Beninati-Neil Smith
2002–03
  1. Gary Thorne-Bill Clement-John Davidson
  2. Steve Levy-Barry Melrose-Darren Pang
  3. Dave Strader-Brian Engblom
  4. Mike Emrick-Eddie Olczyk
  5. Sean McDonough-Ray Ferraro
2003–04
  1. Gary Thorne-Bill Clement-John Davidson
  2. Steve Levy-Barry Melrose-Darren Pang
  3. Dave Strader-Brian Engblom
  4. Mike Emrick-Eddie Olczyk
  5. Sean McDonough-Ray Ferraro

Stanley Cup Playoffs 1986-88 Edit

Year Round Teams Games Play-by-play Color commentators Ice Level Reporters
1986 Divisional semifinals Philadelphia-New York Rangers Games 4-5 Sam Rosen Mickey Redmond Jim Kelly
Washington-New York Islanders Game 1 Mike Lange Paul Steigerwald Steve Armitage
Montreal-Boston Game 3 Jim Hughson Gary Green Bob McKenzie
Minnesota-St. Louis Game 2 Ken Wilson Mike Liut Joe Micheletti
Divisional finals Washington-New York Rangers Games 1-2, 4-6 Jiggs McDonald Peter McNab Ed Westfall
Montreal-Hartford Games 3, 7 Jiggs McDonald Peter McNab Ed Westfall
Edmonton-Calgary Games 2-3, 5-7 Sam Rosen Mickey Redmond Jim Kelly
Conference finals Montreal-New York Rangers Games 1-5 Sam Rosen Mickey Redmond Jim Kelly
Calgary-St. Louis Games 1-7 Ken Wilson Mike Liut Joe Micheletti
1987 Divisional semifinals Philadelphia-New York Rangers Games 3-4, 6 Mike Emrick Bill Clement Tom Mees
Washington-New York Islanders Game 7 Mike Emrick Bill Clement Tom Mees
Hartford-Quebec Game 5 Mike Emrick Bill Clement Tom Mees
Montreal-Boston Games 1-2 Mike Emrick Bill Clement Tom Mees
Divisional finals Philadelphia-New York Islanders Games 2, 4-7 Mike Emrick Bill Clement Tom Mees
Montreal-Quebec Game 1 Ken Wilson Mike Liut Joe Micheletti
Detroit-Toronto Games 5-7 Tom Mees John Davidson Mickey Redmond
Edmonton-Winnipeg Games 2-4 Sam Rosen Mickey Redmond Jim Kelly
Conference finals Philadelphia-Montreal Games 1-6 Mike Emrick Bill Clement Tom Mees
Edmonton-Detroit Games 1-5 Ken Wilson Mike Liut Joe Micheletti
1988 Divisional semifinals New York Islanders-New Jersey Games 1, 3, 6 Mike Emrick Bill Clement Tom Mees
Philadelphia-Washington Games 2, 4-5, 7 Mike Emrick Bill Clement Tom Mees
Divisional finals Washington-New Jersey Games 1, 3, 6-7 Mike Emrick Bill Clement Tom Mees
Montreal-Boston Games 2, 4-5 Sam Rosen Phil Esposito John Davidson
Detroit-St. Louis Games 2, 5 Mike Emrick Bill Clement Tom Mees
Edmonton-Calgary Games 1, 3-4 Mike Emrick Bill Clement Tom Mees
Conference finals Boston-New Jersey Games 1-7 Mike Emrick Bill Clement Tom Mees
Edmonton-Detroit Games 1-5 Sam Rosen Phil Esposito John Davidson

Reporters Edit

  1. Brian Engblom: Reporter (1992-2004)
  2. Darren Pang: Reporter (1995-2004)
  3. Erin Andrews: Reporter (2004)
  4. Tom Mees: Reporter (1986-88, 1992-94)

ReferencesEdit

External linksEdit

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