NHL would benefit greatly from TV deal with ESPN

ESPN is reportedly prepared to make a run at the National Hockey League’s TV rights, and I couldn’t be happier about it.

Here’s a link to the Mediaweek report.

Like a lot of sports fans, I live in one of those 35 million households that gets ESPN but not Versus, which is where the NHL currently has its games broadcast. That means for the last five years, if it wasn’t a Minnesota Wild game, I probably wasn’t watching it (except for the occasional weekend broadcast on NBC later in the season).

But an NHL deal with ESPN goes beyond just getting their games broadcast in 50 percent more homes than they already do.

ESPN is the worldwide leader. Whether you like it or you hate it, a partnership with the network automatically adds more credibility to the product. The NFL knows it. MLB knows it. Heck, Major League Soccer knows it.

More exposure. More relevance. What’s not to like for the NHL?

I really hope ESPN is able to get this done. I used to be a pretty loyal NHL fan, but I’ve been boxed out from watching any games that don’t involve the local market, unless I want to pony up the money to move up a tier on my current cable/satellite package, which I do not.

Did ESPN refuse to confirm a report about itself to ESPN?

There are so many layers of absurdity to this story, that I’ll just open with the link to it right here.

ESPN’s Chris Broussard is reporting through "independent sources" that his own network will have a one-hour special on Thursday to announce where LeBron James is going to play next season.

But according to the ESPN report, ESPN would only confirm that there are negotiations for a special and would not confirm that a special is in place.

My head is spinning. There are so many things about this story that don’t sit well with me.

Twins rank 14th in Ultimate Standings

ESPN published its "Ultimate Standings" on Thursday. And the Minnesota Twins – in their first year at Target Field – did pretty well.

The Twins were ranked 14th in the Ultimate Standings, which ESPN describes "how much MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL franchises give back to the fans in exchange for all the time, money and emotion the fans invest in them."

It’s an inexact science for sure, but still an interesting read.

The Twins ranked No. 1 in stadium experience, which is described as "quality of arena and game-day promotions as well as friendliness of environment." That’s obviously a big improvement from where they ranked in that category while in the Metrodome.

Somewhat surprisingly, their worst category was "Bang for the Buck," which ranks how many wins the team generated in the past three years when compared to revenues. I would have thought "The Twins Way" would have done a little better there.

The Minnesota Vikings are 59th overall in the 122-team field. The Wild are 78th, and not surprisingly also struggling in that "Bang for the Buck" category. And the Timberwolves are at 116th overall, needing lots of help in every category except "Affordability."

To further illustrated the hopeless feeling that Wolves fans have, they ranked dead last in "Title Track," which measures championships won or likely to be won in a fan’s lifetime. Ouch!

Interesting to note that six of the seven worst teams overall are NBA franchises. The bottom six in "Title Track" are all NBA franchises, which brings to mind a blog post I’ve been meaning to write and haven’t yet. Stay tuned for that.

The semantics of speculation

Potentially. Could. Suggests. Indicate.

These are the types of words used a lot when big sports stories start developing.

It’s interesting to watch the types of news that big media outlets will run with. Takes ESPN for example. The news outlets don’t get much bigger than ESPN.

With the news filtering in all weekend long that USC head coach Pete Carroll is going to return to the NFL as head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, news outlets will go to great lengths to be the first to report on it.

I saw on ESPN’s "Bottom Line" scroll that appears at the bottom of the network’s screen that not only were sources indicating that Carroll would become the next coach of the Seahawks, but also that "potential replacements at USC could include" the likes of Jeff Fisher and a few other names which escape my memory.

Potential replacements could include? Who has decided these are the potential replacements when the job isn’t even open yet?

I suppose that’s the age we live in now. There’s more media now than could have been imagined just 10 years ago, especially when you include all of the bloggers and the way Twitter is utilized. ESPN is just trying to stay ahead of the game.

The game has changed, and the biggest of news outlets recognize that.

Maybe my memory fails me, but I doubt we would have seen ESPN report 10 years ago something like "potential replacements could include" on a job that really hasn’t been vacated yet.

Kind of feel bad for Reilly

Did any of you watch Sportscenter last night? I wish I could find a video of it on YouTube. I don’t watch Sportscenter these days, but I flipped over to it during a commercial break of something I was watching on MLB Network and was surprised to hear a voice that sounded like Rick Reilly‘s.

I had to keep watching, and sure enough, it was Reilly.

This is by no means an indictment of Reilly as a sports writer. If ESPN showed up at anyone’s door with a truck full of money, most people would say they’d take it. Those that say they wouldn’t are liars.

It was just sad to see one of this country’s great sports writers reduced to filling in on the shameless enterprise that Sportscenter is. I really enjoyed Reilly’s work as a former subscriber to Sports Illustrated. It’s a waste of his time depriving readers of his writing so he can do Sportscenter.