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

Coverage OverviewEdit

1980–82 and 1985–88Edit

ESPN initially and previously covered 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. After 1984–85 season, the NHL Board of Governors chose to have USA and ESPN submit sealed bids. ESPN won by bidding nearly $25 million for three years, about twice as much as USA had been paying. The contract called for ESPN to air up to 33 regular season games each season as well as the NHL All-Star game and Stanley Cup playoffs. The network chose Dan Kelly and Sam Rosen to be the network's first play-by-play announcers, John Davidson and Mickey Redmond were selected to be color commentators. Tom Mees and Jim Kelly were chosen to serve as studio hosts. ESPN designated Sundays as Sunday Night Hockey, but also aired select midweek telecasts. ESPN aired its first game, an opening-night matchup between Washington Capitals and New York Rangers, on October 10, 1985. ESPN announced broadcast teams the following season, Mike Emrick and Bill Clement were the lead broadcast team for 2 seasons. ESPN ultimately went on another hiatus (lasting through the end of the 1991–92 season) from the NHL 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. They were titled Sunday/Wednesday/Friday Night Hockey. Prior to 1999, these telecasts were non-exclusive, meaning that 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 2 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 5 games per week were also shown on ESPN2 (dubbed "Fire on Ice"). During the Stanley Cup playoffs, ESPN and ESPN2 provided almost nightly coverage, often carrying games on both channels simultaneously. Games in the first 2 rounds were non-exclusive, while telecasts in the Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Finals were exclusive (except in 1993 and 1994).

Versus Replaces ESPN Edit

Before the 2004–05 NHL lockout, the NHL had reached 2 separate deals with NBC (who would replace ABC as the NHL's American national broadcast television partner) and ESPN. ESPN offered the NHL $60 million for about 40 games (15 games would be during the regular season), all on ESPN2 (with presumably only some midweek playoff games) the first 2 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 (which was unheard of practice to that point). NBC's deal included 6 regular season windows, 7 postseason broadcasts and Games 3–7 of the Stanley Cup Finals in prime time. The contracts were to commence when the lockout ended. The NBC deal expired after the 2006–07 season and NBC had picked up the option to renew for the 2007–08 season (Just like the AFL/NBC agreement which the network did not renew in 2006). The NHL and NBC shared in revenues from advertising.

ESPN had a 2 year deal that they opted out of after the lockout, leaving the NHL without a cable partner. In August of 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 Versus, and finally became NBCSN. Due to the abbreviated off-season, the 2005–06 schedule did not offer OLN exclusivity, which they received in 2006–07. Versus would also cover the playoffs and exclusively air Games 1 and 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

Broadcast teams Edit

ESPN did not have fixed broadcast teams during 1985–86 season. Sam RosenKen WilsonJim Hughson, Dan KellyMike Lange, and Jiggs McDonald handled play-by-play and Mickey RedmondHerb BrooksJohn DavidsonGary Green, Paul 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
  3. Mike Emrick-Jim Schoenfeld
1993–94
  1. Gary Thorne-Bill Clement
  2. Tom Mees-John Davidson
  3. Steve Levy-Darren Pang
1994–95
  1. Gary Thorne-Bill Clement
  2. Tom Mees-Brian Engblom
  3. Steve Levy-Darren Pang
1995–96
  1. Gary Thorne-Bill Clement
  2. Tom Mees-Brian Engblom
  3. Steve Levy-Darren Pang
1996–97
  1. Gary Thorne-Bill Clement
  2. Dave Strader-Darren Pang
  3. Steve Levy-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. Joe Beninati-Neil Smith
  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. Joe Beninati-Neil Smith
  5. Sean McDonough-Ray Ferraro

Stanley Cup playoffs 1986–1988 Edit

Year Round Teams Games Play-by-play Color commentators Ice level reporters
1986 Divisional semifinals Philadelphia-New York Rangers Games 4–5 Jim Kelly (Game 4)

Mike Lange (Game 5)

Mickey Redmond
Washington-New York Islanders Game 1 Mike Lange Paul Steigerwald
Montreal-Boston Game 3 Jim Hughson Gary Green
Minnesota-St. Louis Game 2 Ken Wilson Herb Brooks
Divisional finals Washington-New York Rangers Games 1–2, 4–6 Ken Wilson (Games 1, 6)

Mike Lange (Games 2, 4)
Jiggs McDonald (Game 5)

Herb Brooks (Game 1)

Paul Steigerwald (Games 2, 4)

Peter McNab (Game 5)

Montreal-Hartford Games 3, 7 Jiggs McDonald Peter McNab
Edmonton-Calgary Games 2–7 Mike Lange (Games 2, 7)

Jim Hughson (Games 3–6)

Mickey Redmond Jim Kelly
Conference finals Montreal-New York Rangers Games 1–5 Ken Wilson (Games 1, 3)

Jiggs McDonald (Game 2)
Mike Lange (Games 4–5)

Mickey Redmond
Calgary-St. Louis Games 1–7 Jim Hughson (Games 1, 3, 5)

Mike Lange (Game 2)
Ken Wilson (Games 4, 6)
Sam Rosen (Game 7)

Bill Clement
1987 Divisional semifinals Philadelphia-New York Rangers Games 3–4, 6 Mike Emrick (Games 3, 6)

Ken Wilson (Game 4)

Bill Clement
Washington-New York Islanders Game 7 Mike Emrick Bill Clement Tom Mees
Hartford-Quebec Game 5 Mike Emrick Bill Clement
Montreal-Boston Games 1–2 Mike Emrick Bill Clement
Divisional finals Philadelphia-New York Islanders Games 2, 4–7 Mike Emrick (Games 2, 4–5, 7)

Ken Wilson (Game 6)

Bill Clement
Montreal-Quebec Game 1 Ken Wilson Bill Clement
Detroit-Toronto Games 5–7 Sam Rosen (Game 5)

Tom Mees (Games 6–7)

John Davidson
Edmonton-Winnipeg Games 2–4 Rick Peckham (Game 2)

Sam Rosen (in Winnipeg)

John Davidson
Conference finals Philadelphia-Montreal Games 1–6 Mike Emrick Bill Clement
Edmonton-Detroit Games 1–5 Ken Wilson Mike Liut
1988 Divisional semifinals New York Islanders-New Jersey Games 1, 3, 6 Mike Emrick Bill Clement
Philadelphia-Washington Games 2, 4–5, 7 Mike Emrick Bill Clement
Divisional finals Washington-New Jersey Games 1, 3, 6–7 Sam Rosen Phil Esposito
Montreal-Boston Games 2, 4–5 Sam Rosen Phil Esposito
Detroit-St. Louis Games 2, 5 Mike Emrick Bill Clement
Edmonton-Calgary Games 1, 3–4 Bruce Buchanan (Game 1)
Mike Emrick (Games 3–4)
John Garrett (Game 1)

Bill Clement (Games 3–4)

Conference finals Boston-New Jersey Games 1–7 Mike Emrick Bill Clement
Edmonton-Detroit Games 1–5 Sam Rosen Phil Esposito

Stanley Cup Playoffs 1993-2004 Edit

Year Round Teams Games Network Play-by-play Color commentators Ice level reporters
1994 Conference quarterfinals NY Rangers-NY Islanders Games 2–3 ESPN (Games 2–3) Tom Mees (Game 2)
Gary Thorne (Game 3)
John Davidson (Game 2)

Bill Clement (Game 3)

Brian Engblom (Game 3)
Conference semifinals NY Rangers-Washington Games 1–5 ESPN2 (Game 1)
ESPN (Games 2–5)
Sean McDonough (Game 1)

Gary Thorne (Games 2–5)

Brian Engblom (Game 1)

Bill Clement (Games 2–5)

Brian Engblom (Games 2–5)
1995 Conference quarterfinals New Jersey-Boston Game 5 ESPN2 (Game 5) Gary Thorne Bill Clement Brian Engblom
Conference semifinals New Jersey-Pittsburgh Games 1–2, 4 ESPN (Game 1)
ESPN2 (Games 2, 4)
Tom Mees John Davidson
Conference finals New Jersey-Philadelphia Games 1–4, 6 ESPN Gary Thorne Bill Clement Brian Engblom
2000
2003

Stanley Cup finals 1993-2004 Edit

Year Teams Games Network Play-by-play Color commentators Ice level reporters
1995 New Jersey-Detroit Games 2–3 ESPN Gary Thorne Bill Clement Brian Engblom

Studio personalities Edit

  • Chris Berman: Host (2002–04)
  • Scotty Bowman: Analyst
  • John Buccigross: Host (1998–2004)
  • Ray Ferraro: Analyst (2002–04)
  • E.J. Hradek: Insider
  • Steve Levy: Host (1993–2004)
  • Tom Mees: Host (1985–88, 1992–93)
  • Barry Melrose: Analyst (1996–2004)
  • Al Morganti: Analyst (1993–2004)
  • Bill Patrick: Host
  • Bill Pidto: Host (1995–1998)
  • John Saunders: Host (1992–2004)

Reporters Edit

  • Brian Engblom (1992–2004)
  • Darren Pang (1995–2004)
  • Erin Andrews (2004)
  • Brenda Brenon (1994)
  • Jim Kelly (1985–86)
  • Matt Lauer (1987–88)
  • Steve Levy (1992–2004)
  • Tom Mees (1986–87, 1992–93)
  • Al Morganti (1992–2002)
  • Sam Ryan (2002–04)

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