Stephen A. Smith admits First Take doesn't care about hockey

Hockey definitely has its loyal base of fans, but as far as the national conversation is concerned, nobody really cares about hockey, certainly not ESPN’s First Take.

The voice of the New York Yankees, Michael Kay joined Stephen A. Smith on First Take Thursday morning to break down Major League Baseball’s slate of newly implemented rules as the regular season approaches. During his visit, Molly Qerim asked Kay which New York team is closest to winning a title, to which he definitively stated the Rangers.

“Oh lord,” Smith responded with disgust.

Why? They advanced to the Conference Finals last season and just acquired nine-time All-Star Patrick Kane, the Rangers are without question the team in New York that appears closest to a championship. Assuming you consider hockey a sport worth discussing.

“They don’t count! They don’t count!” Qerim quickly interjected. “Take them out. They don’t count, for Stephen A.”

“Only thing I know about hockey is the puck is black,” Smith chimed in, a rare admission of ignorance from the First Take host.

ESPN executives probably didn’t love watching their popular daytime sports debate show belittle hockey like that, considering the network pays $400 million annually for NHL game rights. An occasional boost for the NHL from First Take probably wouldn’t be a bad thing.

“It is no disrespect to the Rangers and to Patrick Kane of course,” Qerim said as Smith urged Kay to stick to football, basketball, or baseball. But there is at least some level of disrespect when you just blatantly discount the NHL like that, although they’re able to do it because the national audience similarly discounts hockey.

Since the NHL returned to ESPN last season for the first time in nearly two decades, the network’s audience would be hard-pressed to find any hockey coverage on their debate shows. Honestly, it was surprising to even see a baseball segment make it onto First Take Thursday morning. If there was a bigger demand from the audience, surely, Smith and ESPN would find a way to oblige, at least on occasion.

[First Take]

About Brandon Contes

Brandon Contes is a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He previously helped carve the sports vertical for Mediaite and spent more than three years with Barrett Sports Media. Send tips/comments/complaints to