Darren Pang with his bobblehead on a 2016 broadcast. Mar 12, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; St. Louis Blues color commentator and former goalie Darren Pang shows off his bobble head during the third period of the game against the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center. The Blues defeated the Stars 5-4 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

One interesting element of the ongoing Diamond Sports bankruptcy proceedings is what they might mean in terms of negotiating new contracts for talent. Bankruptcy proceedings can often make that hard, and a new case that may have been impacted by that is Darren Pang. Jeff Agrest of The Chicago Sun-Times and Jeremy Rutherford of The Athletic both reported Wednesday that Pang, whose contract to call St. Louis Blues games on Bally Sports Midwest (where he’d been working for 14 years) was up this summer, looks set to join the Blackhawks’ TV team on NBC Sports Chicago (while also likely keeping his national role with TNT, where he’s currently working as an analyst on their Stanley Cup Final broadcasts):

The Blackhawks’ local TV booth underwent major change last season following the retirement of long-time play-by-play voice Pat Foley and the departure of long-time analyst Eddie Olczyk for the Seattle Kraken. Chris Vosters just completed his first season as the team’s TV play-by-play voice, and he’s expected to return, so Pang would be working with him. Last year, the Blackhawks saw long-time radio analyst Troy Murray shifting back and forth between TV and radio, Patrick Sharp joining for some games, and some other analysts filling in also. Bringing in Pang gives them more TV consistency, and there will still likely be some opportunities for others while Pang does TNT work.

It’s interesting that part of this seems possibly about Diamond and their bankruptcy, though. Here’s what Rutherford wrote on that front:

Pang, 59, had planned to remain with the Blues and Bally’s next season, but contract talks had been slow. The parent company of Bally’s, Diamond Sports Group, is a division of Sinclair Broadcasting and is currently in bankruptcy.

As Pang awaited a contract offer, he received significant interest around the NHL, including opportunities in both U.S. and Canadian markets. Chicago was one of those teams, and after receiving permission for the two sides to talk, they were able to reach a deal that will put him in the Blackhawks booth.

(It should be noted that Diamond is not the parent company of Bally’s, the casino chain, but rather the parent company of the Bally Sports regional networks. Those formerly-Fox networks, owned by Diamond parent Sinclair ahead of this bankruptcy, but likely to be more owned by creditors after it, have a branding deal alone with Bally’s. Which is not producing a lot of great PR for Bally’s at this point in time thanks to that bankruptcy.)

Of course, it’s not 100 percent for sure that Pang (seen above with his own bobblehead in 2016) would have remained on Bally Sports Midwest outside of the bankruptcy proceedings. Contract negotiations can take plenty of twists, and an analyst with Pang’s extensive background (since his playing career ended in 1990, he’s called national games for ESPN, ABC, NBC, TNT, and NHL Network in the U.S., and for TSN in Canada) would have been in demand elsewhere. But the note from Rutherford that Pang had planned to stay in St. Louis, and his 14 years of work there, certainly make it seem like this could have led to him remaining with the Blues if not for the Diamond bankruptcy affecting contract talks.

And it will be interesting to see if that idea of contract talks being harder amidst this bankruptcy becomes a trend. It’s not going to be the case everywhere, with some of the broadcasters seen on Bally Sports networks employed by teams rather than those networks (that’s how the Padres’ broadcasts have continued largely continued as normal despite those games now being produced and distributed by MLB rather than Bally Sports San Diego). But it is difficult to go on with business as usual amidst bankruptcy proceedings, and that’s especially true when it comes to future contracts. And Pang may wind up being far from the only person impacted by that.

[The Chicago Sun-Times, The Athletic; photo from Jerome Miron/USA Today Sports]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.