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The NHL on ABC is the branding formerly used for broadcasts of National Hockey League (NHL) games televised on the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) in the United States. The network first broadcast NHL games during the 1992–93 season under a time-buy agreement with ESPN; ABC resumed regular season game telecasts on February 6, 2000, as part of a joint contract with ESPN that also gave ABC the rights to select games from each round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

History

Before the 1992–93 NHL season

After being dropped by NBC after the 1974–75 season,[1][2][3] the NHL did not maintain a national television contract in the United States.[4][5][6] In response to this, the league put together a network of independent stations covering approximately 55% of the country.[7][8][9]

Games typically aired on Monday nights[10] (beginning at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time) or Saturday afternoons. The package was offered to local stations without a rights fee.[11]Profits would instead be derived from the advertising, which was about evenly split between the network and the local station. The Monday night games were often billed as "The NHL Game of the Week".[12] Viewers in New York City, Buffalo, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Detroit and Los Angeles received the Game of the Week on a different station than their local team's games. Therefore, whenever a team had a "home" game, the NHL Network aired the home team's broadcast rather than their own.

Initially, the Monday night package was marketed to ABC affiliates; the idea being that ABC carried NFL football games on Monday nights in the fall and (starting in May 1976) Major League Baseball games on Monday nights in the spring and summer, stations would want the hockey telecasts to create a year-round Monday night sports block; however, very few ABC stations chose to pick up the package.

In 1979, ABC was contracted to televise Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.[13][14] Since the Finals ended in five games, the contract was void.[15]

ABC Radio coverage (1989–1991)

In 1989,[16] the NHL signed a two-year contract (lasting through the 1990–91 season) with ABC Radio for the broadcast rights to the All-Star Game and Stanley Cup Finals.[17][18] ABC Radio named Don Chevrier and Phil Esposito as their main commentating crew.[19][20][21][22]

Time-buy deal with ESPN (1992–1994)

In the 1992–93[23] and 1993–94 seasons, ABC televised six weekly regional telecasts[24][25] on Sunday afternoons beginning in March[26] (or the last three Sundays[27] of the regular season). This marked the first time that regular season National Hockey League games were broadcast on American network television[28] since 1974–75 (when NBC was the NHL's American broadcast television partner). ABC would then televise three weeks worth of playoff games[29][30] (or the first three Sundays[31][32] of the playoffs[33][34][35][36]). The network did not televise the Stanley Cup Finals, which instead, were televised nationally by ESPN and by Prime Ticket in Los Angeles (1993) and MSG Network in New York (1994). Games televised on ABC were not subject to blackout.

These broadcasts (just as was the case with the 1999–2004 package) were essentially, time-buys[37] by ESPN.[38][39] In other words, ABC would sell three-hour blocks of airtime to ESPN, which in return, would produce, supply broadcasters and sell advertising. The main difference is that the graphics used for the telecasts were those used by ABC Sports, instead of the ones seen on ESPN National Hockey Night. In later years, the roles would be reversed as ESPN's graphical style would be used on the broadcasts with the exception of intermission reports. ABC even used ESPN's theme music[40] for the 1992–1994 coverage. During ABC's next stint with the NHL, the network used its own theme music.[41]

Overall, ABC averaged a 1.7 rating[42] for those two seasons.

When the NHL television contract went up for negotiation in early 1994, Fox (which was in the process of launching its sports division after acquiring the rights to the National Football Conference of the NFL) and CBS(which was hoping to land a major sports contract to replace the NFL rights that they lost to Fox and Major League Baseball rights that they lost to ABC and NBC) competed heavily for the package. On September 9, 1994, the National Hockey League reached a five-year, $155 million contract with Fox for the broadcast television rights to the league's games, beginning with the 1994–95 season,[43] effectively ending ABC's time-buy deal with ESPN after just two seasons.

Schedules

1993-94

Main article: 1993–94 NHL season

Date Teams Start times (All times Eastern)
March 27[44][45][46][47][48] Boston at Washington

Detroit at Chicago
New York Rangers at Winnipeg
Los Angeles at Vancouver

1:00 p.m.

2:00 p.m.
2:00 p.m.
3:00 p.m.

April 3[49] Boston at Pittsburgh

Dallas at Washington
St. Louis at Detroit
Edmonton at Los Angeles

1:00 p.m.

1:00 p.m.
1:00 p.m.
4:00 p.m.

April 10 New York Rangers at New York Islanders

Boston at Philadelphia
Los Angeles at Chicago
Dallas at St. Louis

1:00 p.m.

1:00 p.m.
1:00 p.m.
1:00 p.m.

April 17,[50][51] 24, May 1: Playoffs

Stanley Cup playoff commentator crews
1993
Round Series Games covered Play-by-play Color commentator(s)
Division semifinals Pittsburgh vs. New Jersey Games 1, 4 Gary Thorne Bill Clement
Chicago vs. St. Louis Games 1, 4[52] Mike Emrick Jim Schoenfeld
Calgary vs. Los Angeles Games 1, 4 Al Michaels[53] John Davidson
Division finals Pittsburgh vs. New York Islanders Game 1[54] Gary Thorne[55] Bill Clement
Toronto vs. St. Louis Game 4 Gary Thorne Bill Clement
Vancouver vs. Los Angeles Game 1 Mike Emrick[56] John Davidson
Conference finals Montreal vs. New York Islanders Game 1 Gary Thorne Bill Clement
1994
Round Series Games covered Play-by-play Color commentator(s) Ice level reporter(s)
Conference quarterfinals New York Rangers vs. New York Islanders Games 1, 4 Tom Mees (Game 1)

Gary Thorne (Game 4)

Darren Pang (Game 1)

Bill Clement (Game 4)

Bob Neumeier (Game 1)

Al Morganti (Game 4)

Dallas vs. St. Louis Games 1, 4[57] Gary Thorne (Game 1)

Tom Mees (Game 4)

Bill Clement (Game 1)

John Davidson (Game 4)

Al Morganti (Game 1)
Conference semifinals New Jersey vs. Boston Game 1 Gary Thorne Bill Clement Al Morganti


 Announcers

Studio Hosts

Broadcast teams

Reporters

1999–2004

The NHL returns to ABC (1999–2004)

In August 1998, ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 signed a five-year television deal with the NHL, worth a total of approximately $600,000,000 USD (or $120 million per year). The $120 million per year that ABC and ESPN paid for rights dwarfed the $5.5 million that the NHL received from American national broadcasts in the 1991–92 season.[70] As previously mentioned, as was the case with the 1992–1994 deal, ABC's subsequent NHL coverage was in reality, made up of time–buys from ESPN. This was noted in copyright beds at the conclusion of the telecasts, i.e. "The preceding program has been paid for by ESPN, Inc." ESPN then signed a similar television rights contract in 2002 so it could produce and broadcast National Basketball Association games on ABC.

Regular season

This time around, ABC televised four to five weeks worth of regional games on Saturday afternoons beginning in January.

1999–2000

Date Teams Start times (All times Eastern) Commentator crews
March 18 Pittsburgh at Boston

New York Rangers at Philadelphia
Dallas at Chicago
Detroit at Colorado

3:00 p.m.

3:00 p.m.
3:00 p.m.
3:00 p.m..

Mike Emrick and Barry Melrose

Dave Strader and Brian Engblom
Steve Levy and Darren Pang
Gary Thorne and Bill Clement

March 26 Pittsburgh at Philadelphia

New York Rangers at Detroit
St. Louis at Chicago
Colorado at Dallas

1:00 p.m.

1:00 p.m.
1:00 p.m.
1:00 p.m.

Steve Levy and Darren Pang

Dave Strader and Brian Engblom
Mike Emrick and Barry Melrose
Gary Thorne and Bill Clement

April 1 New York Rangers at Boston

Philadelphia at Pittsburgh
Detroit at St. Louis
Anaheim at Los Angeles

1:00 p.m.

1:00 p.m.
1:00 p.m.
3:00 p.m.

Dave Strader and Brian Engblom

Mike Emrick and Barry Melrose
Gary Thorne and Bill Clement
Steve Levy and Darren Pang

April 9 Philadelphia at New York Rangers

St. Louis at Chicago
Phoenix at Dallas
Detroit at Colorado Los Angeles at Anaheim

3:00 p.m.

3:00 p.m.
3:00 p.m.
3:00 p.m. 3:00 p.m.

Dave Strader and Brian Engblom

Mike Emrick and Barry Melrose
Steve Levy and Darren Pang
Gary Thorne and Bill Clement Dave Ryan and Joe Micheletti

2000–01

Date Teams Start times (All times Eastern) Commentator crews
March 10 New Jersey at Philadelphia

Detroit at St. Louis
Colorado at Dallas

3:00 p.m.

3:00 p.m.
3:00 p.m.

Mike Emrick and Barry Melrose

Gary Thorne and Bill Clement
Steve Levy and Darren Pang

March 17 New York Rangers at Philadelphia

Detroit at Colorado
San Jose at Los Angeles

3:00 p.m.

3:00 p.m.
3:00 p.m.

Steve Levy and Darren Pang

Gary Thorne and Bill Clement
Mike Emrick and Barry Melrose

March 24 Detroit at New York Rangers

Colorado at Boston
Anaheim at Los Angeles

1:00 p.m.

1:00 p.m.
3:00 p.m.

Mike Emrick and Barry Melrose

Gary Thorne and Bill Clement
Steve Levy and Darren Pang

March 31 New York Rangers at New Jersey

Detroit at Philadelphia
St. Louis at Pittsburgh
Colorado at Los Angeles

3:00 p.m.

3:00 p.m.
3:00 p.m.
3:00 p.m.

Mike Emrick and Barry Melrose

Steve Levy and Darren Pang
Gary Thorne and Bill Clement
Dave Strader and Jim Schoenfeld

April 7 Pittsburgh at Philadelphia

Colorado at Detroit
Dallas at San Jose
New York Rangers at Florida

3:00 p.m.

3:00 p.m.
3:00 p.m.
3:00 p.m.

Steve Levy and Darren Pang

Gary Thorne and Bill Clement
Dave Strader and Jim Schoenfeld
Mike Emrick and Barry Melrose

2001–02

Date Teams Start times (All times Eastern) Commentator crews
January 5 Detroit at Colorado

Pittsburgh at New York Rangers
Washington at Boston

3:00 p.m.

3:00 p.m.
3:00 p.m.

Gary Thorne and Bill Clement

Mike Emrick and Barry Melrose
Steve Levy and Darren Pang

January 12 New York Rangers at Philadelphia

St. Louis at Pittsburgh
Dallas at Detroit

1:00 p.m.

1:00 p.m.
1:00 p.m.

Gary Thorne and Bill Clement

Mike Emrick and Barry Melrose
Steve Levy and Darren Pang

March 2 New York Rangers at Philadelphia

Detroit at Pittsburgh
Dallas at Colorado

3:00 p.m.

3:00 p.m.
3:00 p.m.

Mike Emrick and Barry Melrose

Steve Levy and Darren Pang
Gary Thorne and Bill Clement

March 9 Pittsburgh at New York Rangers

Detroit at St. Louis
Colorado at Los Angeles

3:00 p.m.

3:00 p.m.
3:00 p.m.

Steve Levy and Darren Pang

Gary Thorne and Bill Clement
Mike Emrick and Barry Melrose

March 16 Boston at Detroit

New York Rangers at New Jersey
Colorado at Philadelphia

3:00 p.m.

3:00 p.m.
3:00 p.m.

Steve Levy and Darren Pang

Mike Emrick and Barry Melrose
Gary Thorne and Bill Clement

2002–03

Date Teams Start times (All times Eastern) Commentator crews
January 11 Colorado at Dallas

Detroit at Philadelphia
New York Rangers at Pittsburgh

1:00 p.m.

1:00 p.m.
1:00 p.m.

Gary Thorne and Bill Clement

Mike Emrick and Barry Melrose
Steve Levy and Darren Pang

February 8 Pittsburgh at Boston

Colorado at Detroit
New York Rangers at Philadelphia

3:00 p.m.

3:00 p.m.
3:00 p.m.

Mike Emrick and Barry Melrose

Gary Thorne and Bill Clement
Steve Levy and Darren Pang

March 15 Colorado at Detroit

New York Rangers at New Jersey
Philadelphia at Pittsburgh

3:00 p.m.

3:00 p.m.
3:00 p.m.

Gary Thorne and Bill Clement

Mike Emrick and Barry Melrose
Steve Levy and Darren Pang

March 22 New York Rangers at Philadelphia

Chicago at Colorado
Detroit at St. Louis

3:00 p.m.

3:00 p.m.
3:00 p.m.

Mike Emrick and Brian Engblom

March 29 Detroit at St. Louis

New York Rangers at Boston
Phoenix at Colorado

1:00 p.m.

1:00 p.m.
6:00 p.m.

Gary Thorne, Bill Clement and John Davidson

Steve Levy and Darren Pang
Mike Emrick and Brian Engblom

2003–04

Date Teams Start times (All times Eastern) Commentator crews
January 10 Detroit at Boston

Colorado at Dallas
New York Rangers at New York Islanders

1:00 p.m.

1:00 p.m.
1:00 p.m.



Mike Emrick and Brian Engblom

February 14 New York Rangers at Philadelphia

Colorado at Detroit
Boston at Chicago

3:00 p.m.

3:00 p.m.
3:00 p.m.

Steve Levy and Darren Pang

Gary Thorne, Bill Clement and John Davidson
Mike Emrick and Brian Engblom

March 13 Dallas at Detroit

New Jersey at Philadelphia
Los Angeles at San Jose

3:00 p.m.

3:00 p.m.
3:00 p.m.

Gary Thorne, Bill Clement and John Davidson

Steve Levy and Darren Pang
Mike Emrick and Brian Engblom

March 20 New York Rangers at Philadelphia

St. Louis at Dallas

3:00 p.m.

3:00 p.m.

Steve Levy and Darren Pang

Gary Thorne, Bill Clement and John Davidson

March 27 Colorado at Detroit

New York Rangers at Philadelphia
Los Angeles at Calgary

1:00 p.m.

1:30 p.m.
6:00 p.m.

Gary Thorne, Bill Clement and John Davidson

Steve Levy and Darren Pang
Mike Emrick and Brian Engblom

Stanley Cup playoffs 2000-04

Year Round Teams Games Play-by-play Color commentators Ice level reporters
2000 Conference quarterfinals Washington-Pittsburgh Game 2 Steve Levy Darren Pang Daryl Reaugh
St. Louis-San Jose Games 2, 6 Dave Strader(Game 2)

Gary Thorne(Game 6)

Brian Engblom

Bill Clement (Game 6)

Brian Hayward (Game 2)

Brian Engblom (Game 6)

Colorado-Phoenix Game 2 Mike Emrick Barry Melrose Joe Micheletti
Detroit-Los Angeles Game 2 Gary Thorne Bill Clement Brian Engblom
Conference semifinals Philadelphia-Pittsburgh Games 2, 5 Gary Thorne Bill Clement Brian Engblom and Darren Pang (Game 5)
Colorado-Detroit Game 2 Steve Levy Darren Pang Daryl Reaugh
Conference finals Philadelphia-New Jersey Game 1 Gary Thorne Bill Clement Brian Engblom
Dallas-Colorado Game 4 Gary Thorne Bill Clement Brian Engblom
2001 Conference quarterfinals Washington-Pittsburgh Games 2, 5 Gary Thorne Bill Clement Brian Engblom (Game 5)
Philadelphia-Buffalo Games 2, 6 Mike Emrick Barry Melrose Mickey Redmond
Detroit-Los Angeles Games 2, 5 Steve Levy Darren Pang Joe Micheletti
St. Louis-San Jose Games 2, 6 Dave Strader Brian Engblom Chris Simpson
Conference semifinals Buffalo-Pittsburgh Games 2, 5 Steve Levy (Game 2)

Gary Thorne (Game 5)

Darren Pang (Game 2)

Bill Clement (Game 5)

Joe Micheletti (Game 2)

Brian Engblom

Colorado-Los Angeles Game 2 Gary Thorne Bill Clement Brian Engblom
Conference finals New Jersey-Pittsburgh Game 4 Gary Thorne Bill Clement Brian Engblom
Colorado-St. Louis Game 1 Gary Thorne Bill Clement Brian Engblom
2002 Conference quarterfinals Boston-Montreal Game 5 Gary Thorne Bill Clement Brian Engblom
Carolina-New Jersey Game 6 Mike Emrick Barry Melrose Chris Simpson
Toronto-New York Islanders Game 2 Steve Levy Darren Pang Joe Micheletti
Colorado-Los Angeles Games 2, 6 Gary Thorne (Game 2)

Steve Levy (Game 6)

Bill Clement (Game 2)

Darren Pang (Game 6)

Brian Engblom (Game 2)

Joe Micheletti (Game 6)

San Jose-Phoenix Game 2 Dave Strader Brian Engblom Tony Granato
St. Louis-Chicago Game 2 Mike Emrick Barry Melrose Chris Simpson
Conference semifinals Detroit-St. Louis Games 2, 5 Gary Thorne Bill Clement Brian Engblom
Colorado-San Jose Games 2, 5 Steve Levy Darren Pang Joe Micheletti
Conference finals Detroit-Colorado Games 1, 4 Gary Thorne Bill Clement Brian Engblom
2003 Conference quarterfinals Tampa Bay-Washington Game 2 Mike Emrick Brian Engblom
Philadelphia-Toronto Game 5 Gary Thorne Bill Clement Chris Simpson
Detroit-Anaheim Game 2 Gary Thorne Bill Clement and John Davidson Chris Simpson
Colorado-Minnesota Games 2, 5 Steve Levy Darren Pang
Conference semifinals Ottawa-Philadelphia Game 5 Steve Levy Darren Pang Joe Micheletti
New Jersey-Tampa Bay Game 2 Gary Thorne Bill Clement Chris Simpson
Dallas-Anaheim Games 2, 5 Steve Levy (Game 2)

Gary Thorne (Game 5)

Darren Pang (Game 2)

Bill Clement and John Davidson (Game 5)

Chris Simpson (Game 5)
Conference finals Ottawa-New Jersey Game 4 Steve Levy Darren Pang and John Davidson Joe Micheletti
Minnesota-Anaheim Game 1 Gary Thorne Bill Clement and John Davidson Brian Engblom
2004 Conference quarterfinals Tampa Bay-New York Islanders Game 2 Steve Levy Darren Pang Erin Andrews
Philadelphia-New Jersey Game 5 Steve Levy Darren Pang Erin Andrews
Detroit-Nashville Games 2, 5 Gary Thorne Bill Clement and John Davidson
San Jose-St. Louis Game 2 Mike Emrick Brian Engblom
Colorado-Dallas Game 5 Mike Emrick Brian Engblom
Conference semifinals Detroit-Calgary Games 2, 5 Gary Thorne Bill Clement and John Davidson
San Jose-Colorado Games 2, 5 Mike Emrick (Game 2)

Steve Levy (Game 5)

Brian Engblom (Game 2)

Darren Pang (Game 5)

Erin Andrews
Conference finals Tampa Bay-Philadelphia Games 1, 4 Gary Thorne Bill Clement and John Davidson Sam Ryan (Game 1) and Joe Micheletti (Game 4)

On-air staff

Stanley Cup Finals hosts

  • Chris Berman (2003-2004)
  • Al Michaels (2000–2002)

Broadcast teams

Reporters

Nhlac


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