Last night, news broke that TSN hockey insiders Bob McKenzie and Darren Dreger would be joining NBC (in addition to staying at TSN) for the upcoming NHL season. McKenzie will make weekly appearances on NBCSN while Dreger will also contribute news and the stuff that’s made both very famous in Canada, and it brings a new, more journalistic bent to NBC’s hockey coverage that it hadn’t previously had.
However, it will also add something that NBC has never had before: original coverage of the NHL Draft. Multiple sources tell Awful Announcing the network will be televising its own coverage of the first round of the annual player selection meetings from Sunrise, Florida on June 26, 2015. Previously, NBC had merely taken TSN’s coverage and simulcast it, which led to it occasionally getting cut off toward the end of the first round awkwardly.
One of the sources confirmed that Bob McKenzie will be a part of that draft coverage as part of some combination of TSN and NBC’s regular talent, which could be anyone from host Liam McHugh to analysts like Keith Jones and Pierre McGuire, both of whom have appeared on TSN’s draft coverage before. Another source suggested that it might even be produced by many of the people who currently run TSN’s coverage of the event.
The status of the second day of the draft is currently unknown, but in all likelihood any and all coverage will air on NHL Network in the United States regardless of who’s producing the coverage.
Having NHL Draft coverage emanate from their own people was something that had been missing from NBC ever since they took over all of the league’s television properties a few years ago. It will be interesting to see if this provides a boost in ratings or a boost in how the network is seen with hardcore hockey fans. It’s also interesting because, with the switch in national TV rights in Canada, Rogers would have been in line to take over any simulcast of NHL Draft coverage that aired in the United States. Fighting the cable wars on every front, I suppose.
What it definitely does is it gives NBC some legitimacy with hockey fans on another big event, and that’s a win for hockey fans in the US. NBCSN may be the first-ever American network to produce its own coverage of the NHL Draft.
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