ESPN's Love Affair with the NFL Continues: NHL/NBA Playoffs Put on Back Burner

WoooooSenior Writer IApril 21, 2008

With the second round of the NHL playoffs slated to get under way during the latter half of this week, and the first round action of the NBA playoffs well underway, ESPN continues its' recent trend of air-wave love for professional football by dedicating an entire day to the coverage of the NFL Draft.  ESPN announced that its' NFL Draft coverage will begin at 7 AM this coming Saturday, and conclude around 8 PM the same evening.  This will likely be followed by a "Sportscenter NFL Draft Special Edition" that carries the coverage into the early hours of Sunday morning, and beyond.  A half hour pregame show on VERSUS, TNT or your local Fox Sports Network accompanied by patiently watching ESPN's BottomLine Ticker to catch a glimpse of the scores from around the league, should be plenty to satisfy the heightened emotions of fans following their beloved teams during the NBA/NHL playoffs.

Hockey fans: remember the good ol' days of the early 90's through the early 2000's when Sunday/Wednesday/Thursday/Friday Night Hockey was broadcasted nationwide by ESPN?  Prior to 1999, these broadcasts were regionally based, but from 1999 until the 2001-02 season, they were broadcasted nationally.  ESPN was permitted to televise two games per team, per season, for every team in the National Hockey League.  Beginning in the 93-94 season, up to five games a week were also broadcasted on ESPN2.  During the playoffs, two games were often broadcasted simultaneously on both ESPN and ESPN2.

Now, professional hockey has been relegated to local Fox Sports Networks, VERSUS (which a significant number of people don't even get through their cable providers), the occasional NBC telecast during the latter half of the season, and brief 20 second segments on the nightly Sportscenter programs.  Sportscenter anchors often refer to your teams players' by the wrong name.  The words: "John Thornton scored a goal and added two helpers as the Sharks beat the Canucks tonight" ring in the ears of the Sharks' faithful after another solid bit of information from the lips of Stuart Scott. Or, perhaps, "Tom Conklin posted his second shutout of the season for the Penguins tonight, as they beat the Sabres at Madison Square Garden."  Yes Stuart, every New York team does indeed share the ice at Madison Square Garden, you are correct...

While NBA Fastbreak is still a regularity on ESPN, the NHL hasn't been so lucky.  Since the cancellation of NHL 2night in 2004, you would be better off asking the guy holding the "Why Lie? I Need Beer $" sign outside of the arena the result of the game, rather than tuning into Sportscenter.

Game 7 of the Habs/Bruins series was by far the biggest game this NHL playoff season.  However, an overweight offensive tackle from the University of Michigan will likely steal the spotlight away from the brothers Kostisyn and Carey Price's shutout performance on tonight's Sportscenter telecast.  Sportscenter did run about a 90 second segment highlighting Game 7 between the Habs and Bruins, and designated the final 45 seconds of their broadcast to acknowledge Ovechkin's third period performance in Game 6 of the Flyers/Capitals series that forced a Game 7.  But, the news of Alex Rodriguez's latest injury, and the Miami Dolphin's interest in OT Jake Long (a name that 1 out of 1,000 people won't even remember after Saturday) took precedence once again.

So, come Saturday, we will all be dazzled with the unmatchable drama of watching Roger Goodell read a name from a concealed envelope for 13 consecutive hours, all the while listening to enlightened analysts predict the move for whoever is next on the clock. Now that's what I call sports entertainment.