For the first time since 2004, the NHL will have games played on ESPN as part of a new rights deal that will bring games to 25 games a year to ESPN and ABC, along with the majority of playoff and Stanley Cup Final games, as well as 75 games a year on ESPN+ and Hulu, as streaming rights are the biggest part of the deal.
We’ve waited 17 years to type this …
— ESPN (@espn) March 10, 2021
It is highlighted by: exclusive coverage of the Stanley Cup Final on ABC in four of the seven years of the agreement, with the ability to simulcast/megacast on ESPN+ and additional ESPN networks; the return of live NHL action to ESPN networks with 25 exclusive national regular-season games on ABC or ESPN; 75 national regular-season games per season produced by ESPN that will stream exclusively on both ESPN+ and Hulu; half of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on ABC and ESPN each season; and coverage annually of NHL’s Face-off (opening night games), the NHL All-Star Game and Skills Challenge, plus other NHL special events each season.
Additionally, the NHL’s out-of-market streaming package, with more than 1,000 games (formerly on NHL.TV), will now be available for fans to stream only as part of an ESPN+ subscription.
For many fans, having the NHL back on ESPN will take them back to the sounds of their childhood watching games, as ESPN’s NHL theme music is iconic and, yes, is coming back.
Yes, hockey fans, the iconic ESPN @NHL theme music will be back!
Composer Bob Christianson shares more on the musical piece first introduced to viewers in 1992, that still resonates with hockey fans after nearly 30 yearshttps://t.co/PvcI2nDuHu pic.twitter.com/hOdPaXAeXg
— ESPN Front Row (@ESPNFrontRow) March 10, 2021
However, the NHL on ESPN won’t sound exactly the same unless the network brings back play-by-play commentator Gary Thorne, who just so happened to have his time with the Baltimore Orioles come to an end. The replies to ESPN’s NHL announcement features a ton of fans calling for the legendary voice to be brought back to the network, as he is the soundtrack to so many memories of the network’s NHL games.
How about Gary Thorne?
— The IS (@theisinnyc) March 10, 2021
Gary Thorne too?
— Anthony Babcock (@babs3095) March 10, 2021
Now bring back Gary Thorne!
— brokeland (@bobnutting22) March 10, 2021
I need to hear Gary Thorne’s voice over the top of that. With Steve Levy/Bucci at the studio desk with Barry.
— Dan (@DanDBradley) March 10, 2021
Ok, but the real task here is getting Gary Thorne back on the mic!
— Anthony D'Agostino (@ADagostinoTV) March 10, 2021
ok now bring back thorne
— Buddsterr15 || Caps (14-6-4) || Sixers (24-12) (@Buddsterr15) March 10, 2021
We’ll see if ESPN is able to make that happen, but there’s no doubt that fans want to hear the legendary voice back on the call.