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NHL on ABC
Also known asABC Hockey Saturday
GenreHockey telecasts
Presented bySean McDonough
Ray Ferraro
Emily Kaplan
Dave Jackson
Steve Levy
John Buccigross
Barry Melrose
Mark Messier
Chris Chelios
Brian Boucher
A. J. Mleczko
Kevin Weekes
Theme music composerBob Christianson
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons2 (19931994 version)
5 (20002004 version)
7 (2021 version)
14 (total)
Production
Production locationsVarious NHL arenas (game telecasts and some pregame, intermission segments, and occasional postgame)
ESPN's Bristol, CT studios (pregame, intermission segments, and occasional postgame)
Camera setupMulti-camera
Running time180 minutes or until end of game
Production companiesABC Sports (2000–2004)
ESPN (2000–2004; 2021–present)
Release
Original networkABC
ESPN+ (simulcasts, 2021–present)
Original release
  • First run:
    April 18, 1993 (1993-04-18)–May 1, 1994 (1994-05-01)
  • Second run:
    February 6, 2000 (2000-02-06)–June 7, 2004 (2004-06-07)
  • Third run:
    November 26, 2021 (2021-11-26)–present (present)
Chronology
Preceded byNHL on Fox (National over-the-air broadcaster 1995–1999)
NHL on NBC (National over-the-air and cable broadcaster 2006–2021)
Related shows

The NHL on ABC is an American presentation of National Hockey League (NHL) games televised on ABC in the United States.

The network first broadcast NHL games during the 1993 Stanley Cup playoffs on April 18, 1993, under a two-year time-buy agreement with ESPN. After the two years, the NHL left ABC for newcomer Fox, while remaining with ESPN.

As part of a joint contract with ESPN, which was reached right before the 1998–99 season, the NHL returned to ABC on February 6, 2000, with their coverage of the 2000 NHL All-Star Game in Toronto. Regular season game telecasts returned to ABC on March 18, 2000. ABC also gained the rights to select weekend games from each round of the Stanley Cup playoffs and the last five games of the Stanley Cup Finals.[1] After the 2004 Stanley Cup Finals, the NHL left ABC again, this time for NBC because Disney executives admitted that they overpaid for the 1999–2004 deal. ESPN, who was set to continue with the NHL, later dropped it from their schedules after the 2004–05 lockout.

On March 10, 2021, ESPN announced a new contract to hold half of the NHL's media rights beginning in the 2021–22 season. In this deal, ABC will broadcast up to 10 regular season games per-season, including the annual "Thanksgiving Showdown" game on the Friday after Thanksgiving Day, a late-season game of the week package (branded as ABC Hockey Saturday presented by Expedia for sponsorship purposes), and the All-Star Game. ABC exclusively televises the Stanley Cup Finals in even-numbered years. All games carried by ABC are streamed on ESPN+.

History

Before the 1992–93 NHL season

After being dropped by NBC after the 1974–75 season,[2][3][4] the NHL did not maintain a national television contract in the United States.[5][6][7] In response to this, the league put together a network of independent stations covering approximately 55% of the country.[8][9][10]

Games typically aired on Monday nights[11] (beginning at 8 p.m. Eastern Time) or Saturday afternoons. The package was offered to local stations without a rights fee.[12] 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".[13]

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.[14][15] Since the Finals ended in five games, the contract was void.[16] Had there been a seventh game, then Al Michaels would have called play-by-play alongside Bobby Clarke (color commentator). Jim McKay would host the seventh game in the studio, and Frank Gifford (reporter, who would have been in the winning team's dressing room to interview players and coaches as well as hand the phone to the winning team's coach that would have allowed him to talk to both President Jimmy Carter and Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau). This would give Michaels the honor of being the first to provide the play-by-play in four of the five major professional sports, having called the Super Bowl, the World Series, and NBA Finals. The game would have started at 5:10 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on a Saturday, replacing Wide World of Sports and local news shows that typically followed it on ABC stations in the Eastern and Central time zones.

It was also around this time that ABC offered the NHL a limited deal, splitting the network and show the NHL in the Northeast and Midwest and NASCAR in the South on Sunday afternoons, that NHL president John Ziegler Jr.[17] quickly rejected.

ABC's coverage of the Winter Olympics

Even though ABC didn't yet televise National Hockey League games, they were the American network broadcast home of the Winter Olympic games beginning in 1964 and continuing through the 1988 Winter Games from Calgary. For the ice hockey events, employed Curt Gowdy for play-by-play duties in 1968 and 1976 (NBC had the broadcasting rights for the 1972 Games in the interim) Games. Gowdy worked with Brian Conacher for the 1976 ice hockey events.

For years later at Lake Placid, ABC was on hand for a medal-round men's ice hockey game that would soon become known the "Miracle on Ice". On February 22, 1980, the United States team, made up of amateur and collegiate players and led by coach Herb Brooks, defeated the Soviet team, which consisted of veteran professional players with significant experience in international play. The rest of the United States (except those who watched the game live on Canadian television) had to wait to see the game, as ABC decided to broadcast the late-afternoon game on tape delay in prime time.[18] Sportscaster Al Michaels, who was calling the game on ABC along with former Montreal Canadiens goalie Ken Dryden, picked up on the countdown in his broadcast, and delivered his famous call:[19]

Eleven seconds, you've got ten seconds, the countdown going on right now! Morrow, up to Silk. Five seconds left in the game. Do you believe in miracles? YES!

Al Michaels continued serving as ABC's lead play-by-play announcer for their ice hockey coverage for their next two Winter Olympics both with lead color commentator Ken Dryden. In 1984 from Sarajevo, Mike Eruzione, who was the captain of the gold medal-winning United States ice hockey team from 1980, worked with Don Chevrier. For ABC's final Winter Olympics four years later, Eruzione was this time, paired with Jiggs McDonald.

ABC Radio coverage (1989–1991)

In 1989,[20] 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.[21][22] ABC Radio named Don Chevrier and Phil Esposito as their main commentating crew.[23][24][25][26][27]

Time-buy deal with ESPN (1993–1994)

The logo for ABC's regular season coverage in the 1993–94 season.
The logo for ABC's regular season coverage in the 1993–94 season.

In the 1992–93 season, ABC televised five weekly playoff telecasts[28] (the first three weeks were regional coverage of various games and two national games)[29][30] on Sunday afternoons starting on April 18.[31] This marked the first time that playoff National Hockey League games were broadcast on American network television[32][33] since 1975 (when NBC was the NHL's American broadcast television partner[34][35][36][37][38][39][40]). In the 1993–94 season, ABC televised six[41] weekly regional telecasts[29][30] on the last three Sunday afternoons beginning on March 27, 1994.[42][43] This marked the first time that regular season National Hockey League games were broadcast on American network television[33] since 1974–75 (again when NBC was the NHL's American broadcast television partner). ABC then televised three weeks worth of playoff games on first three Sundays[44] – the final game was Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals between the Boston Bruins and the New Jersey Devils, a game that was aired nationally. 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 20002004 package) were essentially, time-buys[45] by ESPN.[46][47] In other words, ABC would sell three-hour blocks of airtime to ESPN,[48] who in return, would produce and distribute the telecasts.[33] Overall, ABC averaged a 1.7 rating for those two seasons.[49][50][51]

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, US$155 million contract with Fox[52] for the broadcast television rights to the league's games, beginning with the 1994–95 season.[53]

Announcers

Studio host

Play-by-play

  1. Gary Thorne
  2. Mike Emrick
  3. Al Michaels (1993)
  4. Tom Mees (1994)
  5. Bob Miller (1993–94)
  6. Sam Rosen (1993–94)

Color commentators

  1. Bill Clement
  2. John Davidson
  3. Darren Pang (1993–94)
  4. Joe Micheletti (1993–94)
  5. Jim Schoenfeld (1993)

Reporters

  1. Al Morganti
  2. Tom Mees
  3. Bob Neumeier
  4. Brenda Brenon[54]
  5. Mark Jones

Schedules

1993–94

Main article: 1993–94 NHL season

Date Teams Start times (All times Eastern)
March 27[55][56][57][58] Boston at Washington
Detroit at Chicago
New York Rangers at Winnipeg
Los Angeles at Vancouver
1 p.m.
2 p.m.
2 p.m.
3 p.m.
April 3[59] Boston at Pittsburgh
Dallas at Washington[60][61][62]
St. Louis at Detroit[63]
Edmonton at Los Angeles
1 p.m.
1 p.m.
1 p.m.
4 p.m.
April 10 New York Rangers at New York Islanders[64][65]
Boston at Philadelphia[66][67][68]
Los Angeles at Chicago
Dallas at St. Louis
1 p.m.
1 p.m.
1 p.m.
1 p.m.

April 17,[69][70] May 1, 24: 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[71][72][73][74] Gary Thorne Bill Clement
Chicago vs. St. Louis Games 1, 4[75][76][77] Mike Emrick Jim Schoenfeld
Calgary vs. Los Angeles Games 1, 4[78] Al Michaels[79] John Davidson
Division finals Pittsburgh vs. New York Islanders Game 1[80] Gary Thorne Bill Clement
Toronto vs. St. Louis Game 4[81][82][83] Gary Thorne Bill Clement
Vancouver vs. Los Angeles Game 1[84] Mike Emrick John Davidson
Conference finals Montreal vs. New York Islanders Game 1[85][86][87] Gary Thorne Bill Clement
1994
Round Series Games covered Play-by-play Color commentator(s) Ice level reporter(s)
First round New York Rangers vs. New York Islanders Games 1, 4[88][89][90][91][92] Gary Thorne Bill Clement Al Morganti
Dallas vs. St. Louis Games 1, 4[93] Tom Mees Darren Pang (Game 1)
John Davidson (Game 4)
Bob Neumeier (Game 1)
Conference semifinals New Jersey vs. Boston Game 1[94][95][96] Gary Thorne Bill Clement Al Morganti

NHL returns to ABC (2000–2004)

Previous logo used from 2000 to 2004.
Previous logo used from 2000 to 2004.

In August 1998, ABC, ESPN, and ESPN2 signed a five-year television deal with the NHL, worth a total of approximately US$600 million[97][98][99][100][101][102][103] (or $120 million per year), beginning with the league's 1999–2000 season. 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.[104] ABC's terms of this deal included: rights to the NHL All-Star Game, 4 to 5 weeks of regular season action,[105] with three games a week, weekend Stanley Cup Playoff games, and Games 3 to 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

As previously noted, much like ABC's initial contract with the NHL in the 1992–93 and 1993–94 seasons, ESPN essentially purchased time on ABC to air selected NHL games on the broadcast network. This was noted in copyright tags at the conclusion of the telecasts (i.e., "The preceding program has been paid for by ESPN, Inc."). ESPN later signed a similar television rights contract with the National Basketball Association in 2002, allowing it to produce and broadcast NBA games on ABC under a similar time buy arrangement on the broadcast network.[106]

In May 2004, NBC and ESPN reached an agreement to broadcast NHL games beginning in the 2004–05 season, which would end up being canceled as a result of the 2004–05 NHL lockout; ESPN later withdrew[107] from the deal in favor of OLN,[108] which wound up being rebranded as NBCSN in 2012. In the interval between the 2004 Stanley Cup Finals and the start of the 2005–06 season, several ABC affiliates, including WDTN in Dayton, Ohio (a secondary market for the Columbus Blue Jackets) and WAND in Springfield, Illinois (which is served by the Chicago Blackhawks and the St. Louis Blues), affiliated with NBC.

Regular season

As previously mentioned, ABC televised four to five weeks worth of regional games on Saturday afternoons,[109] typically beginning in January or March for the first two seasons.

Announcers

Studio personalities

  1. John Saunders – lead studio host
  2. Steve Levy – fill-in studio host
  3. John Davidson – lead studio analyst (19992002)[1][110]
  4. Barry MelroseNHL All-Star Game and Stanley Cup Finals studio analyst (19992002); lead studio analyst (200304)[111][112][113][114]
  5. Darren PangStanley Cup Finals studio analyst (20032004)

Stanley Cup Finals hosts

  1. Al Michaels (20002002)[115]
  2. Chris Berman (2003)[116]

Play-by play announcer

  1. Gary Thorne
  2. Steve Levy
  3. Mike Emrick
  4. Dave Strader (20002002)

Color commentators

  1. Bill Clement
  2. John Davidson (20032004)[111][113][117][118]
  3. Darren Pang
  4. Barry Melrose (19992002)
  5. Brian Engblom (200204)[111]
  6. Brian Hayward (2000 Stanley Cup playoffs)
  7. Jim Schoenfeld (20012002)

Reporters

  1. Brian Engblom – co-lead rinkside reporter
  2. Darren Pang – co-lead rinkside reporter
  3. Steve LevyNHL All-Star Game and Stanley Cup Finals reporter
  4. Sam Ryan
  5. Erin Andrews
  6. Joe Micheletti
  7. Chris Simpson (20012003)
  8. Daryl Reaugh (2000 Stanley Cup playoffs)
  9. Mickey Redmond (2001; Detroit Red Wings)
  10. Tony Granato (2002 Stanley Cup playoffs)

Schedules

1999–2000

Main article: 1999–2000 NHL season

[119]

Date Teams Start times (All times Eastern) Commentator crews
March 18 Pittsburgh at Boston
New York Rangers at Philadelphia
Detroit at Colorado
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
Mike Emrick and Barry Melrose
Steve Levy and Darren Pang
Gary Thorne, Bill Clement, and Brian Engblom
March 26 New York Rangers at Detroit
Pittsburgh at Philadelphia
Colorado at Dallas
1 p.m.
1 p.m.
1 p.m.
Mike Emrick and Barry Melrose
Steve Levy and Darren Pang
Gary Thorne, Bill Clement, and Brian Engblom
April 1 Philadelphia at Pittsburgh
Detroit at St. Louis
Anaheim at Los Angeles[120]
1 p.m.
1 p.m.
6 p.m.
Mike Emrick and Barry Melrose
Gary Thorne, Bill Clement, and Brian Engblom
Steve Levy and Darren Pang
April 9 Phoenix at Dallas
Detroit at Colorado
Los Angeles at Anaheim
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
Mike Emrick and Barry Melrose
Gary Thorne, Bill Clement, and Brian Engblom
Steve Levy and Darren Pang

2000–01

Main article: 2000–01 NHL season

[121]

Date Teams Start times (All times Eastern) Commentator crews
March 10 New Jersey at Philadelphia
Detroit at St. Louis
Colorado at Dallas
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
Mike Emrick and Barry Melrose
Gary Thorne, Bill Clement, and Brian Engblom
Steve Levy and Darren Pang
March 17 New York Rangers at Philadelphia
Detroit at Colorado[122]
San Jose at Los Angeles
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
Mike Emrick and Barry Melrose
Gary Thorne, Bill Clement, and Brian Engblom
Steve Levy and Darren Pang
March 24 Detroit at New York Rangers
Colorado at Boston
Anaheim at Los Angeles
1 p.m.
1 p.m.
6 p.m.
Mike Emrick and Barry Melrose
Gary Thorne, Bill Clement, and Brian Engblom
Steve Levy and Darren Pang
March 31 New York Rangers at New Jersey[123][124][125]
Detroit at Philadelphia
St. Louis at Pittsburgh[126]
Colorado at Los Angeles
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
Mike Emrick and Barry Melrose
Steve Levy and Darren Pang
Gary Thorne, Bill Clement, and Brian Engblom
Dave Strader and Jim Schoenfeld
April 7 Pittsburgh at Philadelphia[127]
Colorado at Detroit[128]
Dallas at San Jose[129]
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
Mike Emrick and Barry Melrose
Gary Thorne, Bill Clement, and Brian Engblom
Steve Levy and Darren Pang

2001–02

Main article: 2001–02 NHL season

[130]

Date Teams Start times (All times Eastern) Commentator crews
January 5 Colorado at Detroit[131]
New York Rangers at Pittsburgh
Washington at Boston
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
Gary Thorne, Bill Clement, and Brian Engblom
Mike Emrick, Barry Melrose, and Christine Simpson
Steve Levy, Darren Pang, and Joe Micheletti
January 12 New York Rangers at Philadelphia[132][133]
St. Louis at Pittsburgh
Dallas at Detroit[134]
1 p.m.
1 p.m.
1 p.m.
Gary Thorne, Bill Clement, and Brian Engblom
Mike Emrick, Barry Melrose, and Christine Simpson
Steve Levy, Darren Pang, and Joe Micheletti
March 2[135] Philadelphia at New York Rangers
Detroit at Pittsburgh
Dallas at Colorado
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
Mike Emrick, Barry Melrose, and Christine Simpson
Steve Levy, Darren Pang, and Joe Micheletti
Gary Thorne, Bill Clement, and Brian Engblom
March 9[136] New York Rangers at Pittsburgh
Detroit at St. Louis
Los Angeles at Colorado
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
Mike Emrick, Barry Melrose, and Christine Simpson
Gary Thorne, Bill Clement, and Brian Engblom
Steve Levy, Darren Pang, and Joe Micheletti
March 16 Detroit at Boston
New York Rangers at New Jersey
Colorado at Philadelphia
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
Gary Thorne, Bill Clement, and Brian Engblom
Mike Emrick, Barry Melrose, and Christine Simpson
Steve Levy, Darren Pang, and Joe Micheletti

2002–03

Main article: 2002–03 NHL season

[137]

Date Teams Start times (All times Eastern) Commentator crews
January 11 Colorado at Dallas
Detroit at Philadelphia
New York Rangers at Pittsburgh
1 p.m.
1 p.m.
1 p.m.
Steve Levy and Darren Pang
Gary Thorne, Bill Clement, and John Davidson
Mike Emrick and Brian Engblom
February 8 Pittsburgh at Boston[138]
Detroit at Colorado
New York Rangers at Philadelphia
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
Steve Levy and Darren Pang
Gary Thorne, Bill Clement, and John Davidson
Mike Emrick and Brian Engblom
March 15 Colorado at Detroit[139]
New York Rangers at New Jersey
Philadelphia at Pittsburgh
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
Gary Thorne, Bill Clement, and John Davidson
Mike Emrick and Brian Engblom
Steve Levy and Darren Pang
March 22 New York Rangers at Philadelphia
Chicago at Colorado
Detroit at St. Louis[140]
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
Steve Levy and Darren Pang
Mike Emrick and Brian Engblom
Gary Thorne, Bill Clement, and John Davidson
March 29 Detroit at St. Louis[141][142][143]
New York Rangers at Boston[144]
Phoenix at Colorado
1:30 p.m.
1:30 p.m.
6 p.m.
Gary Thorne, Bill Clement, and John Davidson
Mike Emrick and Brian Engblom
Steve Levy and Darren Pang

2003–04

Main article: 2003–04 NHL season

Date Teams Start times (All times Eastern) Commentator crews
January 10 Detroit at Boston[145]
Colorado at Dallas
New York Rangers at New York Islanders
1 p.m.
1 p.m.
1 p.m.
Gary Thorne, Bill Clement, and John Davidson
Steve Levy and Darren Pang
Mike Emrick and Brian Engblom
February 14 New York Rangers at Philadelphia[146]
Colorado at Detroit[147]
Boston at Chicago
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
3 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 p.m.
3 p.m.
3 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[148]
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
Steve Levy and Darren Pang
Gary Thorne, Bill Clement, and John Davidson
March 27 Colorado at Detroit[149]
New York Rangers at Philadelphia
Los Angeles at Calgary
1:30 p.m.
1:30 p.m.
6 p.m.
Gary Thorne, Bill Clement, and John Davidson
Steve Levy and Darren Pang
Mike Emrick and Brian Engblom

NHL All-Star Game (1999–2004)

Year Play-by-play Color commentator(s) Ice level reporters Studio host Studio analysts
2000[150] Gary Thorne Bill Clement Brian Engblom and Darren Pang John Saunders John Davidson and Barry Melrose
2001[151] Gary Thorne Bill Clement and Denis Leary Brian Engblom, Darren Pang, and Steve Levy John Saunders John Davidson and Barry Melrose
2002[152] Gary Thorne Bill Clement Brian Engblom and Darren Pang John Saunders John Davidson and Barry Melrose
2003[153] Gary Thorne Bill Clement and John Davidson Brian Engblom and Darren Pang John Saunders Barry Melrose and Darren Pang
2004[154][155][156] Gary Thorne Bill Clement and John Davidson Brian Engblom, Darren Pang, and Sam Ryan John Saunders Barry Melrose and Darren Pang
Notes

Stanley Cup Playoffs (2000–2004)

Besides the National Hockey League All-Star Game,[157] ABC televised Games 3–7 of the Stanley Cup Finals[158] in prime time. In the league's previous broadcast television deal with Fox, the network split coverage of the Stanley Cup Finals with ESPN. Games 1, 5 and 7 were usually scheduled to be televised by Fox; Games 2, 3, 4 and 6 by ESPN. However, from 1995 to 1998, the Finals were all four-game sweeps; 1999 ended in six games. The consequence was that – except for 1995, when Fox did televise Game 4 – the decisive game was never on network television.

2003 was the only year that ABC broadcast both the NBA and the Stanley Cup Finals that involved teams from one city in the same year, as both the New Jersey Nets and the New Jersey Devils were in their respective league's finals. During ABC's broadcast of Game 3 between the San Antonio Spurs and the Nets in New Jersey on June 8, Brad Nessler said that ABC was in a unique situation getting ready for both that game and Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Devils and the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim the following night, also at Continental Airlines Arena. Gary Thorne mentioned this the following night, and thanked Nessler for promoting ABC's broadcast of Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.[159]

Following the 2003–04 season, ESPN was only willing to renew its contract for two additional years at $60 million per year.[160] ABC wanted to televised the Stanley Cup Finals games played on weekend afternoons (including a potential Game 7). Disney executives later conceded that they overpaid for the 1999–2004 deal, so the company's offer to renew the television rights was lower in 2004.[161]

ABC ended their second run with the NHL with Game 7 of the 2004 Stanley Cup Finals on June 7. There, the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Calgary Flames 2–1 to clinch their first ever Stanley Cup.

And I'll tell you what, this city has gone bananas inside and outside this arena! It should be a wild ride! ABC Sports is online at ESPN.com, search "ABC Sports". Congratulations to the Tampa Bay Lightning!

— Host John Saunders at the conclusion of Game 7 of the 2004 Stanley Cup Finals, ABC and ESPN’s final NHL telecast until the 2021–22 season, which their first telecast, ironically, was in Tampa Bay as well.

ABC concluded their coverage of Game 7 with a montage of highlights from the 2004 Stanley Cup Finals that were set to the song "Shine" by Andy Stochansky.

Stanley Cup playoffs commentating crews
Year Round Teams Games Play-by-play Color commentator(s) Ice-level reporter(s)
2000 First round Washington-Pittsburgh Game 2[162] Mike Emrick Barry Melrose Joe Micheletti
St. Louis-San Jose Games 2, 6[163][164] Dave Strader (Game 2)
Gary Thorne (Game 6)
Brian Hayward (Game 2)
Bill Clement (Game 6)
Brian Engblom (Game 6)
Colorado-Phoenix Game 2 Steve Levy Darren Pang Daryl Reaugh
Detroit-Los Angeles Game 2[165] Gary Thorne Bill Clement Brian Engblom
Conference semifinals Philadelphia-Pittsburgh Games 2, 5[166][167] Steve Levy (Game 2)
Gary Thorne (Game 5)
Darren Pang (Game 2)
Bill Clement (Game 5)
Daryl Reaugh (Game 2)
Brian Engblom and Darren Pang (Game 5)
Colorado-Detroit Game 2 Gary Thorne Bill Clement Brian Engblom
Conference finals Philadelphia-New Jersey Game 1[168] Gary Thorne Bill Clement Brian Engblom
Dallas-Colorado Game 4[169][170][171][172] Gary Thorne Bill Clement Brian Engblom
2001 First round Washington-Pittsburgh Games 2, 5[173] Gary Thorne Bill Clement Brian Engblom
Philadelphia-Buffalo Games 2, 6[174][175] Mike Emrick Barry Melrose Joe Micheletti
Detroit-Los Angeles Games 2, 5[176] Steve Levy Darren Pang Mickey Redmond
St. Louis-San Jose Games 2, 6[177][178] Dave Strader Jim Schoenfeld Christine Simpson
Conference semifinals Buffalo-Pittsburgh Games 2, 5[179][180][181][182][183][184] Steve Levy (Game 2)
Gary Thorne (Game 5)
Darren Pang (Game 2)
Bill Clement (Game 5)
Joe Micheletti (Game 2)
Brian Engblom (Game 5)
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[185] Gary Thorne Bill Clement Brian Engblom
2002 First round Boston-Montreal Game 5 Gary Thorne Bill Clement Brian Engblom
Carolina-New Jersey Game 6[186] Mike Emrick Barry Melrose Christine Simpson
Toronto-New York Islanders Game 2[187] Mike Emrick Barry Melrose Christine Simpson
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 Jim Schoenfeld Tony Granato
St. Louis-Chicago Game 2[188] Steve Levy Darren Pang Joe Micheletti
Conference semifinals Detroit-St. Louis Games 2, 5[189][190] Gary Thorne Bill Clement Brian Engblom
Colorado-San Jose Games 2, 5[191][192] Steve Levy Darren Pang Joe Micheletti
Conference finals Detroit-Colorado Games 1, 4[193][194][195] Gary Thorne Bill Clement Brian Engblom
2003[112] First round Tampa Bay-Washington Game 2 Mike Emrick Brian Engblom
Philadelphia-Toronto Game 5[196] Gary Thorne Bill Clement and John Davidson Christine Simpson
Detroit-Anaheim Game 2 Gary Thorne Bill Clement and John Davidson Christine 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[197] Gary Thorne Bill Clement and John Davidson Christine Simpson
Dallas-Anaheim Games 2, 5[198] Steve Levy (Game 2)
Gary Thorne (Game 5)
Darren Pang (Game 2)
Bill Clement and John Davidson (Game 5)
Joe Micheletti (Game 2)
Christine Simpson (Game 5)
Conference finals Ottawa-New Jersey Game 4[199][200][201][202][203][204][205] Steve Levy Darren Pang and John Davidson Joe Micheletti
Minnesota-Anaheim Game 1[206][207] Gary Thorne Bill Clement and John Davidson Brian Engblom
2004 First round Tampa Bay-New York Islanders Game 2[208] Steve Levy Darren Pang Erin Andrews
Philadelphia-New Jersey Game 5[209][210] Steve Levy Darren Pang Erin Andrews
Detroit-Nashville Games 2, 6[211][212] Gary Thorne Bill Clement and John Davidson
San Jose-St. Louis Game 2[213] 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[214] Gary Thorne Bill Clement and John Davidson Sam Ryan (Game 1)
Joe Micheletti (Game 4)

Stanley Cup Finals commentating crews

Year Teams Games Play-by-play Color commentator(s) Ice-level reporter(s) Pregame host Pregame analyst(s)
2000 New Jersey-Dallas Game 3–6 Gary Thorne Bill Clement Brian Engblom and Darren Pang Al Michaels (Games 3–5)
John Saunders (Game 6)
John Davidson and Barry Melrose
2001[215] Colorado-New Jersey Games 3–7[216][217] Gary Thorne Bill Clement Brian Engblom and Darren Pang Al Michaels and John Saunders John Davidson and Barry Melrose
2002 Detroit-Carolina Games 3–5 Gary Thorne Bill Clement Brian Engblom and Darren Pang Al Michaels and John Saunders John Davidson and Barry Melrose
2003[218][112][219] New Jersey-Anaheim Games 3–7[220] Gary Thorne Bill Clement and John Davidson[111] Brian Engblom, Darren Pang, and Sam Ryan John Saunders and Chris Berman Barry Melrose and Darren Pang
2004 Tampa Bay-Calgary Games 3–7 Gary Thorne Bill Clement and John Davidson Darren Pang, Sam Ryan, Steve Levy, and Erin Andrews John Saunders Barry Melrose and Darren Pang

Second return to ABC (2021–present)

Further information: NHL on ESPN § Third return to ESPN and ABC: 2021–present

On March 10, 2021, ESPN announced a new, seven-year broadcast deal with the NHL, which included games on ESPN, ABC, and ESPN+ beginning in the 2021–22 season.[221][222] At least 25 regular-season games will be scheduled to air on ESPN or ABC, along with half of the first two rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and one conference final each year. ESPN/ABC have first choice of which conference final series to air. ABC will exclusively broadcast four Stanley Cup Finals[223] over the life of the contract, with the option to simulcast each game on ESPN+, as well as produce alternate broadcasts to air on other ESPN platforms. The 2022 Stanley Cup Finals marked the first to be broadcast in their entirety on over-the-air television since 1980, as the Finals had since either been partially or exclusively carried on cable.[224][225][226] Due to the current arrangement of ABC's sports programming being produced and co-branded by ESPN, the broadcasts carry the NHL on ESPN production and branding.

ABC's first game back featured the New York Rangers and the Boston Bruins in the annual Thanksgiving Showdown on November 26, 2021.[227] After ABC aired the 2022 NHL All-Star Game, the network aired a weekly game under the ABC Hockey Saturday branding, which began on February 26. The package primarily aired on Saturday afternoons, with one primetime game on March 19 to accommodate afternoon coverage of the 2022 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Tournament. All games broadcast by ABC stream on ESPN+.[228]

ABC typically does not air a full 30 minute or hour long pregame show before their games, instead opting for an abbreviated 15-minute pregame show presented by Verizon. However, ABC aired a full 30-minute pregame show on April 23, as a lead-out of their Bundesliga soccer coverage. If time permits, ABC will also air a short postgame show until 6:00 p.m. ET, so most ABC affiliates on the East Coast can show their local news or ABC World News Tonight. For the Stanley Cup Finals, all games aired with 8:00 p.m. ET start times, allowing for a short pre-game show prior to puck drop (by contrast to the NBA Finals, which has preferred a later, 9:00 p.m. ET window, with ABC leading into the game with half-hour Jimmy Kimmel Live! specials and NBA Countdown).[229]

Announcers

Studio personalities

  1. Steve Levy – lead studio host (2021–present)[230][231][232][233]
  2. John Buccigross – fill-in studio host (2021–present)
  3. Barry Melrose – studio analyst (2021–present)[233]
  4. Mark Messier – studio analyst (2021–present)[234][235][236]
  5. Chris Chelios – studio analyst (2021–present)[233][237]
  6. Brian Boucher – color commentator/Inside the Glass and studio analyst (2022–present, select games)

Play-by-play

  1. Sean McDonough – lead play-by-play (2021–present)[231][232][233][238][239]

Color commentators/Inside-the-Glass analysts

  1. Ray Ferraro – lead color commentator/Inside the Glass analyst (2021–present)[240][241][242]
  2. A. J. Mleczko – color commentator/Inside the Glass analyst (2021–present, select games)
  3. Brian Boucher – color commentator/Inside the Glass and studio analyst (2022–present, select games)

Rinkside reporters

  1. Emily Kaplan – lead rinkside reporter (2022–present)

Contributors

  1. Laura Rutledge – contributor (2022–present)
  2. Kevin Weekes – Stanley Cup Finals contributor (2022–present)

Rules analyst

  1. Dave Jackson – rules analyst (2021–present)[243][244]

Schedules

2021–22

Date Teams Start times (All times Eastern) Play-by-play Color commentator(s) Inside the Glass analyst Ice level reporter Notes
November 26 New York Rangers vs. Boston Bruins 1:00 p.m. Sean McDonough Ray Ferraro A. J. Mleczko Bruins-Rangers rivalry
2021 NHL Thanksgiving Showdown
Originally Blues-Blackhawks, which filled the vacant 3:30 ET slot on ESPN+, which Rangers-Bruins had occupied
February 26 New York Rangers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins 3:00 p.m. Ray Ferraro Emily Kaplan Penguins-Rangers rivalry
Special “IceCast” alternate broadcast was also produced and broadcast on ESPN+
March 5 Chicago Blackhawks vs. Philadelphia Flyers 3:00 p.m. 2010 Stanley Cup Finals rematch
Special “IceCast” alternate broadcast was also produced and broadcast on ESPN+
March 12 Philadelphia Flyers vs. Carolina Hurricanes 3:00 p.m. Special “IceCast” alternate broadcast was also produced, and broadcast on ESPN+
March 19 New York Rangers vs. Tampa Bay Lightning 8:00 p.m. First ever NHL regular season game on ABC to air in primetime
Special “IceCast” alternate broadcast was also produced and broadcast on ESPN+
March 26 Chicago Blackhawks vs. Vegas Golden Knights 3:00 p.m. Special “IceCast” alternate broadcast was also produced and broadcast on ESPN+
April 2 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Colorado Avalanche 3:00 p.m. Special “IceCast” alternate broadcast was also produced and broadcast on ESPN+
April 9 Washington Capitals vs. Pittsburgh Penguins 3:00 p.m. Capitals–Penguins rivalry
Sidney Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin
Special “IceCast” alternate broadcast was also produced and broadcast on ESPN+
April 16 Minnesota Wild vs. St. Louis Blues 3:00 p.m. 2022 Winter Classic rematch
Special “IceCast” alternate broadcast was also produced and broadcast on ESPN+
April 23 New York Rangers vs. Boston Bruins 3:00 p.m. Bruins-Rangers rivalry
Special “IceCast” alternate broadcast was also produced and broadcast on ESPN+

NHL All-Star Game (2022–2028)

Year Play-by-play Color commentator(s) Ice level reporters Rules analyst Pregame host Pregame analyst(s)
2022 Sean McDonough Ray Ferraro Emily Kaplan and Laura Rutledge Dave Jackson Steve Levy Mark Messier and Chris Chelios

Stanley Cup Finals

Year Teams Games Play-by-play Color commentator(s) Inside the Glass analyst(s) Ice level reporter(s) Rules analyst Pregame host Pregame analysts
2022 Colorado Avalanche vs Tampa Bay Lightning All games Sean McDonough Ray Ferraro Emily Kaplan (entire series)
Kevin Weekes (Game 6 postgame)
Dave Jackson Steve Levy Mark Messier, Chris Chelios, and Brian Boucher

Notes

Nielsen ratings

Main article: Ratings for The NHL on ABC

National Hockey League coverage on ABC owned-and-operated television stations

Main articles: ABC Owned Television Stations, Owned-and-operated television stations in the United States, and Historical NHL over-the-air television broadcasters

Team Stations Years
Philadelphia Flyers WPVI-TV 6 19831986
San Jose Sharks KGO-TV 7 19911994

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Preceded byNBC NHL network broadcast partner(with NBC) in the United States 19921994 Succeeded byFox Preceded byFox NHL network broadcast partnerin the United States 20002004 Succeeded byNBC Preceded byNBC NHL network broadcast partner in the United States 2021– Succeeded by–