As much as I like to joke about how I never watch hockey or that hockey is boring (aside from the fighting) or that even lockout-shortened seasons take too long, but I am, after all, just joking. We’re haha-makers, not necessarily news reporters. But even beyond my certain penchant for dick-jokery and fart-sniffery, I’m smart enough to see that ESPN doesn’t give much of a poop about extensive NHL coverage. At least in comparison to the NFL, NBA or Major League Baseball.
That’s not to say the Worldwide Leader completely ignores hockey. As ESPN President John Skipper told SI’s Richard Deitsch back in February in response to criticism that his network ignores hockey, the WWL offers plenty of coverage… in highlight form.
“I see SportsCenter every day and we cover hockey every day. We do not have a significant differential between highlights of hockey now and when we had it. The only difference is we are not there [as a rights holder]. If we were there for the playoffs, we’d be throwing to the guys calling the game. We can’t do that, but we are at hockey games. We are doing hockey highlights.”
I don’t pretend to know the inner workings of ESPN as much as some of our more insistent colleagues, but from the tailgate chair of the Average Joe, it appears to me that ESPN has long since told the NHL, “Look, you didn’t like our offer, so have fun with NBC Sports.” As to how accurate that is, other people may obviously know better than I do. But I think it sucks for ESPN’s talented NHL writers and on-the-fence fans like me, because when I look at ESPN.com with my average American male eyeballs, I barely spot the Stanley Cup Playoffs coverage.
Even worse, what happens when I scroll down?
Sure, that’s easy to see with a big red oval around it, but without that arrow pointing it out, this is how I actually view the ESPN.com homepage:
I guess the easy solution for any hockey fan is to just read another website.