NHL Scores Big on Second U.S. Network Deal

TNT rounds out the new NHL TV package. Playoff hockey is hitting Florida. A Patrick Roy return in the works?

Score another goal for Gary Bettman.

After delivering a monstrously successful tv package with ESPN, he's come through again, this time with Turner Sports.

The double-dip completes U.S. network packaging while saying Sayonara to NBC which served the league so well but could not produce the kind of dough delivered by competitors.

Although rumors about the "Second Half" deal abounded for days, the league finally confirmed it yesterday. Here's the official announcement and all the details.

“The NHL and Turner Sports announced a seven-year media rights agreement Tuesday that will have regular-season, Stanley Cup Playoff and Stanley Cup Final games televised on TNT and TBS starting next season and running through 2027-28.

“As part of the agreement, Turner Sports' networks will televise the NHL Winter Classic, the League's annual New Year's Day outdoor game, in all seven seasons of the deal. They will show all games in the Stanley Cup Final in 2023, 2025 and 2027, one conference final series each season and half of the first two rounds of the playoffs along with 72 regular-season games per season.

“Bleacher Report, which is owned by Turner, will have rights to use NHL highlights on its digital platform.

"Turner Sports is known for its outstanding sports coverage, quality and innovation and we are thrilled that this new partnership will provide our fans with the content they love on the platforms and devices of their choice," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. 

"TNT is a proven and acclaimed destination for sports fans and we will also benefit from the deep connection Bleacher Report has with young digital-savvy fans. Having WarnerMedia join the NHL family as co-rightsholders for the next seven years gives us incredible reach, positions us well for the future as the media landscape continues to evolve, and will fuel continued growth for the NHL and our Clubs."

A side -- but no less important -- element will be job opportunities. That includes "talent," as in play-by-play announcers, analysts, directors, producers and all the other behind-the-scenes workers who make a tv production work. 

For sure, the two new networks will be looking for a brand of creativity different from the NBC style. Really, in addition to all the other benefits that will accrue from the new pacts, a long employment line figures to be a happy part of this exciting excursion.

From my own personal interest, the choices of lead play-by-play broadcasters will intrigue me the most. I figure that a good two dozen applications already are on the respective desks.


Stan’s Java Jive

HEADLINE: IS AN ALL-FLORIDA PLAYOFF IN THE WORKS?

THE JIVE: It could happen. And wouldn't Bolts vs. Cats be a pip! Just take a look at how close the Sunshine Staters are these days. The Panthers won 7-4 over Nashville last night while the Lightning won 7-4 over Chicago. Both Florida and Tampa Bay clinched a playoff berth on the same night. Plus, their records are virtually identical: Bolts -- 35-14-2; Cats: 32-14-5. Once again, Florida g.m. Bill Zito proved his worth. Late acquisition Sam Bennett came up with three assists against the Preds. 

On the Lightning side, Alex Killorn -- two goals vs. Chi -- maintains his position as the most overlooked-valuable-forward on the Champs.


HEADLINE: THRILLING PLAYOFF RUN IN THE CENTRAL

THE JIVE; While Nashville is nursing a two-point lead over Dallas in the homestretch run for a playoff berth, the Stars are playing with house change since Rick Bowness' boys have two games in hand. My man in the Southland, Alan Greenberg says, "This one could go right down to the wire." (There's a lot to like on both sides; a pair of doughty outfits, each of which has overcome some stiff adversity all season.)


HEADLINE: CAUFIELD LOOKS LIKE A WINNER

THE JIVE: During Cole Caufield's torrid scoring pace at Wisconsin in the Big Ten the question was whether the Canadiens 15th overall pick in the in the 2019 Draft was too small for NHL success. His big league debut on Monday night in Calgary was impressive. Although the native of Mosinee, Wisconsin failed to score, his outstanding puck skills were evident. Cole finished with 15:40 of ice time, delivered four shots and even played a bit on the PP. The coaching staff thought enough of the 20-year-old to start him on the top line with Phil Danault and Tomas Tatar. Granted, the review is based on only one game but one critic who was there concluded, "He belongs!"


HEADLINE: PLENTY OF POSTSCRIPTS FOR LATEST NHL TV DEAL

THE JIVE: It's almost three decades since Gary Bettman became The Boss of all NHL Bosses. And almost as long since Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly moved in as Bettman's trusty and insightful sidekick. Together they have fashioned a high command that's the envy of competition in other sports. 

This latest of major tv coups will go down in major league sports annals as one of the difficult challenges met and conquered by the Commissioner's general staff. For not only will it result in revenue but the two deals -- ESPN being the first aboard -- were forged while Bettman, Inc. also was battling the extraordinary Pandemic assaults. 

Completing the 2020 season and playoffs was a fabulous feat in itself. Then, despite the usual "Don't do it" skeptics, the Bettman-Daly braintrust devised a scenario for the 2020-2021 season that now is rapidly reaching the regular season finish line. None of the obstacles were easy to overcome but The Sixth Avenue Expeditionary Force has met them head on with the old U.S. Navy Seabees' "Can Do" mentality.

When finding new U.S. network partners became among the highest NHL priorities,The Commish rolled up his sleeves and -- now that the results are in -- demonstrated once again why major league hockey is blessed with the best leader in the business!

Or, as my Man About Network Deals savant, Gus Vic, sums up the bottom line: "The NHL will be more than tripling its current U.S. rights fee for the next seven seasons. Nice work by The Commissioner!"


HEADLINE: PATRICK ROY LONGING FOR AN NHL RETURN

THE JIVE: As Hall of Fame personalities go, Patrick Roy remains one of the most potent, controversial and sometimes-successful to come down the pike since the invention of Brian Burke. Now that the ace, ex-goalie has gone public with his wish, several factors come into play.

For starters, it's apparent that being g.m. and head coach of the QMJHL's Quebec Remparts hardly has satisfied his oversized ego. The French-Canadian icon wants the large NHL spotlight which is fine. But does the NHL -- meaning any team -- want him?

Then there's the question; well, Patty Cake, get specific; who's job do you want? That of a current coach? G.m.? His brand new agent, Neil Glasberg isn't fussy. "Patrick could be a president of hockey ops," says the rep. "He could be a g.m. He could be a co-g.m. He could be a head coach. It's going to be 'situational.'"

The other interesting facet to this "I Shall Return" saga is that Roy is so darn serious about his quest that he hired the same outfit that does agenting for other NHL coaches.

PBI Sports & Entertainment claims to represent "more NHL coaches than any other agency.” According to Glassberg, his outfit went after Roy and Patrick "was enthused." Interestingly, the rep insists that there has been "zero communication" between Roy's camp and the Canadiens.And I'm sure that my buddy, Marc Bergevin, is just tickled pink to hear that.

"The Coyotes, Sabres, Hurricanes, Blue Jackets Canadiens, Red Wings and Canucks do not have a coach under contract for 2021-22," the boys at PBI Sports report. That said, Glassberg has my personal guarantee that Rod Brind'Amour will be back with a new Canes deal and the Canucks figure to reward Travis Green for his valiant work under the toughest conditions.

Should any team bite and hire Roy, that club will be getting a francophone version of John Tortorella. Which, as we all know by now, could be a wonderful event or -- well -- you know the rest.


HEADLINE: CONNOR MCDAVID PUT IN PERSPECTIVE

THE JIVE: It was inevitable. As the Connor McDavid space ship soars beyond the NHL stratosphere, the Duke of Edmonton is being compared to superstars of both today and yesteryear. And why not? "He's a truly generational player," says Gus Vic who's been around long enough to qualify as an expert on the subject. "There's an offensive artistry to his game done at a speed greater than that of Bobby Orr, Wayne Gretzky or Sidney Crosby. And that's saying something." (Well, I'll have a say on this as well. Faster than Orr? Maybe as fast; and I'll stop right there.) 


TRIVIA CORNER:

When Bob Nystrom scored the Islanders Cup-winning goal against Philadelphia in 1980, center Lorne Henning was the one who started the play. But Henning was an emergency replacement. Who was the regular center on that line who had been shelved because of injury?

(Answer Below)


CLASSIC COMMENTS FROM YESTERYEAR; "I think things went well, other than we lost the game."

-Todd Gill, Maple Leafs defenseman.


TRIVIA ANSWER:

Wayne Merrick had been the regular center for left wing John Tonelli and right wing Bob Nystrom. The unit was called "The Banana Line."