The puck drops on the 2021-22 NHL season on Tuesday and ESPN is still revealing parts of its coverage for the year.
In addition to The Point, the new studio show hosted by John Buccigross, and In The Crease, the ESPN+ show hosted by Linda Cohn and Barry Melrose (which is also the name of ESPN’s NHL podcast, hosted by Cohn and Emily Kaplan), ESPN is rolling out a digital pregame show.
Per the company, The Drop premieres Tuesday on ESPN’s digital platforms, and the half-hour broadcast will serve as a pregame show.
The Drop is a new 30-minute live digital NHL pregame show, streaming on the ESPN App and ESPN’s YouTube, Twitter and Facebook platforms ahead of marquee television broadcasts. It debuts October 12 at 7 p.m. ET and will be hosted by Arda Öcal. ESPN hockey writers Greg Wyshynski and Emily Kaplan along with John Buccigross will join the debut episode.
ESPN’s schedule begins on Tuesday, October 12th with Penguins-Lightning at 7:30 PM and Kraken-Golden Knights at 10:15 PM. The early game will be called by Sean McDonough and Ray Ferraro, with Kaplan serving as rinkside reporter, and the late game will be called by Buccigross and Brian Boucher, with AJ Mlezcko serving as the rinkside analyst. In the studio, Steve Levy, Mark Messier, Chris Chelios, and Barry Melrose will work the early game, and Cohn and Kevin Weekes will work the late game.
ESPN has another NHL broadcast on Friday, October 15th. Wild-Ducks is an ESPN+ (and Hulu) exclusive broadcast, with Leah Hextall, Boucher, and Cohn on the call, and Arda Öcal, Ryan Callahan, and John Tortorella in the studio.
Sandwiched between those two days of live games is Turner’s NHL regular season debut. They’ve got a doubleheader on TNT on Wednesday, October 13th. The early game (7:30 PM) is Rangers-Capitals, and will be called by Kenny Albert, Eddie Olczyk, and rinkside analyst Keith Jones. The late game (10 PM) is Blackhawks-Avalanche, and will be called by Brendan Burke, Darren Pang, and rinkside analyst Jamal Mayers. In the studio, Liam McHugh hosts the coverage, along with analysts Paul Bissonnette, Anson Carter, Wayne Gretzky, and Rick Tocchet.
It’s encouraging to see the NHL’s new TV partners putting so many resources into the league, and hopefully the feedback is positive and encourages them to pour even more time and effort into presenting the product.