NHL on TNT
Also known asNHL on TBS
GenreNHL hockey telecasts
Presented by
Theme music composerMark Willott
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
Production
Production locations
Camera setupMulti-camera
Running time150 minutes or until game ends
Production companyTNT Sports
Original release
Network
  • TNT and TBS
  • truTV (overflow during regular season & playoffs)
  • HLN (overflow during regular season)
  • Max
ReleaseSeptember 30, 2021 (2021-09-30) –
present (present)
Related

The NHL on TNT is an American presentation of National Hockey League (NHL) games produced by TNT Sports (formerly known as Turner and later Warner Bros. Discovery Sports), and televised on TNT and streamed on Max in the United States.

In 2021, Turner Sports reached a seven-year contract[1] to serve as one of the two rightsholders of the NHL in the United States, alongside ESPN/ABC, with both replacing NBC Sports. TNT will hold rights "up to 72" nationally televised regular-season games per season,[2] the annual NHL Winter Classic game on New Year's Day, half of the Stanley Cup playoffs (airing on TNT and TBS, with the latter billed as the Stanley Cup Playoffs on TBS), and hold rights to the Stanley Cup Finals in odd-numbered years.[3] The contract also includes an option for Max to carry and/or simulcast games.

Turner Sports has previously aired hockey, as the regional home for the Atlanta Flames and Atlanta Thrashers, and as the cable home for Olympic ice hockey from 19921998 for CBS. The co-owned AT&T SportsNet regional sports networks also hold local rights to the Pittsburgh Penguins, Seattle Kraken, and Vegas Golden Knights. However, Turner Sports had never had a national contract with the NHL until the current deal was reached.

History

Prior to a national contract

From 19921998, TNT served as the American cable television partner for CBS in its coverage of the Winter Olympic Games. Jiggs McDonald handled the play-by-play for ice hockey at the 1992 and 1994 Olympics with Bill Clement on color commentary in 1992 and Joe Micheletti in 1994. In 1998, Mike "Doc" Emrick[4] provided the play-by-play commentary alongside color commentators Peter McNab, Joe Micheletti, and Digit Murphy.

When the NHL's media rights were up for renewal in 2011, Turner Sports was reported to have been among the bidders (with Sports Business Journal suggesting that Turner would want to pick it up for TruTV to expand its sports output alongside the NCAA men's basketball tournament), alongside past NHL rightsholders Fox Sports and ESPN.[5] The NHL ultimately decided to renew its rights with NBC Sports under a 10-year deal, taking advantage of the acquisition of its parent company NBC Universal by Comcast—the existing cable rightsholder via Versus.[6]

National contract (2021–present)

To increase the value of its U.S. media rights after the expiration of its ten-year deal with NBC Sports, the NHL pursued having multiple media partners for its next round of media rights deals, including possible deals with streaming services.[7] After announcing on March 10, 2021, that ESPN would hold the first half of the new media rights, on April 27, the NHL announced that a seven-year agreement was reached for Turner Sports to hold the second half of its new media rights beginning in the 2021–22 season;[8][9][10][11][12]

The contract was reported to be valued at $225 million per season.[23]

On May 26, 2021, Turner announced the hiring of Wayne Gretzky as its lead studio analyst, and that NBC's top commentary team of Kenny Albert and Eddie Olczyk moved to Turner as its lead commentary team.[24][25] Retired basketball player and current TNT Inside the NBA panelist Charles Barkley, who is a friend of Gretzky, was instrumental in convincing Gretzky to join Turner.[26] Craig Morgan, an Arizona-based reporter on the Arizona Coyotes and correspondent for the NHL Network, reported that Darren Pang and Keith Jones, color commentators for the St. Louis Blues and Philadelphia Flyers, respectively, would be joining Turner.[27] On June 9, Morgan reported that NBC's Anson Carter would be doing the same.[28] On June 28, Marchand reported that Islanders play-by-play man Brendan Burke was in talks to join Turner as their #2 play-by-play man.[29] On August 31, it was reported that Liam McHugh would join TNT from NBC.[30]

On September 14, 2021, TNT announced its slate of on-air staff for its inaugural season.[31] Jones, a studio analyst at NBC, would join Albert and Olczyk on the lead broadcast team as the lead ice-level reporter.[31][22] Burke[32] and Pang were named as the secondary broadcast team. McHugh and Carter were named to the studio team,[31][28] along with former Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet[31][33] and veteran Paul Bissonnette, who all joined Gretzky in studio.[31] Hockey Night in Canada’s Jennifer Botterill, NHL Network's Jackie Redmond, and Tarik El-Bashir also appear as contributors.[31][22] TNT later added former referee Don Koharski as a rules analyst, and former Blackhawk Jamal Mayers as an extra contributor.

On November 23, TNT added retired Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist to its studio panel, starting on the next day's broadcast.[34] On November 30, TNT welcomed former referee Stéphane Auger to their team, as another rules analyst, joining Koharski. He made his debut during the Penguins-Oilers game the next night.[35] On January 13, 2022, TNT added Nabil Karim,[36] formerly of ESPN, to contribute as secondary studio host and reporter for both the NHL[37] and the NBA. Former NBC and current Kraken play-by-play announcer John Forslund was picked up by TNT as a fill-in announcer, whenever Albert or Burke are on assignment. Forslund first filled in for Albert for the Avalanche-Golden Knights game on February 16, as Albert was working the Olympic women's hockey gold medal game for NBC about an hour after puck drop.[38][39][40][41] Sharks color commentator Bret Hedican also joined in a fill-in role, joining Forslund in Vancouver on March 9. TNT added several announcers to their roster for the playoffs including Randy Hahn, Dave Goucher, Jim Jackson, Butch Goring, Drew Remenda, Shane Hnidy and Jody Shelley.

For the 2021–22 season, TNT aired 50 games, primarily on Wednesday nights (with 15 doubleheaders), as well as seven weeks of Sunday afternoon games in March and April 2022, and all three outdoor games (the Winter Classic, Stadium Series, and Heritage Classic).[13] TNT's first broadcasts were a preseason doubleheader on September 30, 2021, between the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers, and the Vegas Golden Knights and Los Angeles Kings.[42] TNT then aired its first regular season games on October 13, 2021, with a doubleheader between the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals, and the Chicago Blackhawks and Colorado Avalanche.[43]

Due to conflicts with TNT's first two NHL doubleheaders, AEW: Dynamite was pre-empted to Saturday on the weeks of October 13 and 20. From October 27 through December 15, 2021, TNT aired only a single, 10 p.m. ET game with Dynamite as a lead-in (which concurrently began broadcasting live on both TNT's East and West feeds).[44][45] TNT then began airing doubleheaders on January 5, 2022, when Dynamite moved to TBS.[13][46][44]

In the 2022–23 season, TNT announced a 62-game regular season schedule, normally airing on Wednesdays throughout the regular season and four Sundays during March and April. In addition to gaining exclusive rights to the 2023 Stanley Cup Finals and the 2023 NHL Winter Classic, TNT will gain the rights to the annual Thanksgiving Showdown on Friday, November 25, featuring a doubleheader between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Philadelphia Flyers, and the St. Louis Blues at the Tampa Bay Lightning. With the NBA opting not to play games on Election Day, TNT decided to schedule a rare Tuesday night doubleheader on November 8, with the Edmonton Oilers at the Tampa Bay Lightning, followed by the Nashville Predators at the Seattle Kraken. Like their playoff coverage in 2022, TNT brought in regional announcers for select games. Those include current Kings and former NBC play-by-play man Alex Faust and Lightning play-by-play man Dave Randorf, previously of TSN and Sportsnet. Unlike the previous season, select TNT broadcasts would air on a non-exclusive basis, and are blacked out in the local markets of the participating teams in favor of local broadcasters.[47] On January 23, Tocchet left TNT to be the new head coach of the Vancouver Canucks, replacing recently-fired Bruce Boudreau.[48][49] He subsequently returned to TNT as a guest studio analyst after the Canucks missed the playoffs.[50][51][52] On May 11, 2023, Jones was named the President of Hockey Operations for the Philadelphia Flyers after the 2023 Stanley Cup playoffs concludes.[53][54][55][56][57][58][59]

During the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup playoffs, TNT only carried weekend games due to its commitments with the NBA playoffs, with some weeknight games airing on TBS alongside ESPN.[60] To maximize viewership, the 2023 Stanley Cup Finals were simulcast on TBS and/or TruTV (notwithstanding commitments to MLB on TBS Tuesday Night and AEW Dynamite).[61]

On August 29, 2023, TNT hired Brian Boucher away from ESPN to replace Keith Jones on the lead team, thus reuniting with former NBC partners Kenny Albert and Eddie Olczyk, a position that was confirmed on September 21 with entire TNT crew returning and Henrik Lundqvist being added to the crew full-time.[62][63][64]

TNT is scheduled to air a 62-game schedule for the 2023–24 season, 48 of those games are on Wednesdays as Doubleheaders, and 12 of those games are on Sunday afternoons branded as Hockey Day In America (which was previously used by NBC with its weekend games) along with the 2024 NHL Winter Classic and the Thanksgiving Showdown.[65] The 2023 Heritage Classic will air on TBS.[66]

On November 7, TNT announced that Chris Chelios would serve as a guest analyst for that night's doubleheader.[67][68]

On January 17, 2024, due to the weather-related postponement of the Chicago BlackhawksBuffalo Sabres game, TNT instead aired the Detroit Red Wings at the Florida Panthers, with the studio team calling the game from the TNT studios.[69][70][71]

Coverage on other networks

WBD Sports-produced hockey has also aired on other networks.

TBS

See also: TNT Olympic broadcasts

For a short period in the 1970s, WTCG,[72] the predecessor to TBS, was the television home of the Atlanta Flames. All of the Flames' radio and television broadcasts were simulcasts. The Flames' games were also broadcast on the radio by WSB (AM). Jiggs McDonald[73][74] was the main play-by-play announcer with Skip Caray[75] substituting from 197680. Color commentators included Andy Still (1972-73), Bob Neal (1973–74), Ed Thilenius (1974–75; home and televised games only), Bernie Geoffrion (197579), and Bobby Harper[76] (1979–80; home games only). Pete Van Wieren[77] also did play-by-play for the Flames. The Flames left Atlanta for Calgary prior to the 1980–81 NHL season and McDonald left Atlanta to work for the New York Islanders.[78]

As part of TNT's seven-year NHL national contract, select Stanley Cup playoff games air on TBS.[79] In 2023, TBS will air the Heritage Classic, its first regular season game.[66]

Turner South

See also: Turner South

Turner launched the regional Turner South network in 1999, which carried games of the Atlanta Thrashers, which were owned at that time by Turner parent Time Warner. Matt McConnell was the primary television play-by-play announcer for the Thrashers from 19992003 with JP Dellacamera taking over for the rest of the way in Atlanta. Darren Eliot was the television color commentator throughout the Thrashers' entire existence before their 2011 departure to Winnipeg as the Jets. Time Warner sold the Thrashers in 2003, and sold Turner South to Fox Cable Networks in 2006, which merged it with FSN South to form SportSouth.

AT&T SportsNet

See also: AT&T SportsNet

Following AT&T's acquisition of Time Warner in 2018, AT&T SportsNet,—a regional sports network system acquired in 2015 as a part of DirecTV, and formerly part of the Fox Sports Networks (FSN) group—was moved alongside Turner Sports within the WarnerMedia News & Sports division under Jeff Zucker in March 2019.[80] AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh, AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain, and Root Sports Northwest (majority owned by the Seattle Mariners) served as the regional outlets for the Pittsburgh Penguins, Vegas Golden Knights, and Seattle Kraken, respectively.[81]

With the exception of Root Sports Northwest, all of WBD's regional sports networks would be dissolved at the end of the 2023 Major League Baseball season.[82][83] The Golden Knights signed a multi-year agreement with the E. W. Scripps Company's Scripps Sports division to start airing games on Scripps's Las Vegas broadcast station KMCC and syndicate the telecasts to other stations across the team's broadcast territory.[84] Meanwhile, AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh, the television home of the Penguins, was purchased by the Fenway Sports Group, which also owns the Boston Bruins' home network, NESN.[85] The network dropped the AT&T branding and became known as simply SportsNet Pittsburgh (not to be confused with Canada's Sportsnet networks) effective October 2.[86] In January 2024, the Mariners purchased WBD's remaining stake on Root Sports Northwest.[87]

Production

A Turner Sports executive stated that TNT's goal for its coverage was to provide information on-air that would appeal to both mainstream viewers and "diehard fans", including leveraging the NHL's new player and puck tracking system for on-air features and graphics, and high frame rate cameras. The network also implemented an on-ice graphic for the power play clock, similar to the on-court shot clock graphic used in TNT's NBA coverage.[43] TNT's studio coverage originates from Turner's headquarters in Atlanta, with a set featuring projection mapping effects.[88]

On-air staff

Studio personalities

Rotating studio analysts

Guest studio analysts

Play-by-play

Color commentators

Ice-level analysts

Rinkside reporters

Rules analysts

Former personalities

See also

References

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