from Helene Elliott of the LA Times, Once upon a time, a new TV network needed sports programming and made a deal to broadcast NHL games.
The relationship benefited both parties. Over time the network dropped its gimmicky events, gaining major league sports and major credibility. It came to need the NHL much less than the NHL needed the network, and their relationship deteriorated.
That network — ESPN — parted ways with the NHL after the 2004-05 lockout, and as much as hockey fans long for ESPN’s mainstream cachet, that ship isn’t coming back. But the NHL’s retreat to the obscure Outdoor Life Network is finally looking better, thanks to a fortunate turn of events.
OLN became Versus, which became the NBC Sports Network not long after Comcast bought majority ownership of NBC. The deal between NBC Sports Network and the NHL, extended last year through 2020-21 and worth about $2 billion, has put 53 games on the air this season through Sunday, up from 36 at this point last season and ...