NHL on SportsChannel America
File:SportsChannel.JPG
Also known as NHL on SportsChannel
Genre Sports
Created by SportsChannel America
Directed by Larry Brown
Billy McCoy
Starring See announcers section below
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 4
Production
Executive producer(s) Jeff Ruhe[1]
Producer(s) John Shannon
Cinematography Terry Ford
Dean Anderson
Bob Boykin
Marty Muzik
Running time 180 minutes or until game ends (including commercials)
Release
Original network SportsChannel America
Original release Script error: No such module "Infobox/dates".
Chronology
Related shows Hockey Night in Canada (CBC)
External links

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NHL on SportsChannel America was the presentation of National Hockey League broadcasts[2] on the now defunct SportsChannel America[3]cable television network.

Terms of the deal[edit | edit source]

Taking over for ESPN,[4] SportsChannel's contract paid US$51 million ($17 million[5] per year[6]) over three years, more than double[7] what ESPN had paid ($24 million) for the previous three years[8] SportsChannel America managed to get a fourth NHL season for just $5 million.[9][10][11][12][13]

The SportsChannel America deal was in a sense, a power play created by Charles Dolan and Bill Wirtz. Dolan was still several years away from getting control of Madison Square Garden, and Wirtz owned 25% of SportsChannel Chicago. NHL president John Ziegler[14] convinced the board of governors that SportsChannel America was a better alternative than a proposed NHL Channel backed by Paramount and Viacom that had interests in the MSG Network and NESN.

SportsChannel's availability[edit | edit source]

Unfortunately, SportsChannel America was only available in a few[15] major markets (notably absent though were Detroit, Pittsburgh and St. Louis[16])[17][18][19] and reached only a 1/3 of the households that ESPN[20][21] did at the time.[22][23] SportsChannel America was seen in fewer than 10 million households.[24] In comparison, by the 1991–92 season, ESPN was available in 60.5 million[25] homes whereas SportsChannel America was available in only 25 million. As a matter of fact, in the first year of the deal (1988–89), SportsChannel America was available in only 7 million homes when compared to ESPN's reach of 50 million.[26] When the SportsChannel deal ended in 1992, the league returned to ESPN[27] for another contract that would pay US$80 million over five years.

SportsChannel America took advantage of using their regional sports networks' feed of a game, graphics and all, instead of producing a show from the ground up, most of the time. Distribution of SportsChannel America across the country was limited to cities that had a SportsChannel regional sports network or affiliate. Very few cable systems in non-NHL territories picked it up as a stand-alone service. Regional affiliates of the Prime Network would sometimes pick up SportsChannel broadcasts, but this was often only during the playoffs, and often to justify the cost, some cable providers carrying it during the playoffs only carried it as a pay-per-view option. SportsChannel America also did not broadcast 24 hours a day at first, usually on by 6 p.m., off by 12 Midnight, then a sportsticker for the next 18 hours.

Philadelphia[edit | edit source]

Since SportsChannel Philadelphia did not air until January 1990, PRISM (owned by Rainbow Media, the owners of SportsChannel, at the time) picked up the 1989 Stanley Cup Finals. Other than that, there was no NHL television coverage in Philadelphia except for the Flyers for the first half of the original deal.

See also: 1988–89 Philadelphia Flyers season and 1989–90 Philadelphia Flyers season

Lawsuit[edit | edit source]

As previously mentioned, the NHL would return to ESPN following the 1991–92 season. Shortly after the ESPN deal was signed, SportsChannel America would contend that its contract with the NHL gave them the right to match third-party offers for television rights for the 1992–93 season. SportsChannel America accused the NHL of violating a nonbinding clause. SportsChannel America argued that it had been deprived of its contractual right of first refusal for the 1992–93 season. Appellate Division of New York State Supreme Court justice Shirley Fingerwood would deny SportsChannel America's request for an injunction against the NHL. Upholding that opinion, the appellate court found the agreement on which SportsChannel based its argument to be "too imprecise and ambiguous" and ruled that SportsChannel failed to show irreparable harm.

In the aftermath of losing the NHL, SportsChannel America was left with little more than outdoors shows and Canadian Football League games. For SportsChannel, the deal was a disaster overall. While the cable channel three years later, was available in 20 million homes (as previously mentioned), the broadcaster lost as much as $10 million on the agreement, and soon faded into obscurity.[28] Some local SportsChannel stations – which carried NHL games in their local markets – were not affected.

Coverage overview[edit | edit source]

Regular season coverage[edit | edit source]

SportsChannel America televised about 80–100 games a season (whereas ESPN aired about 33 in the 1987–88 season). Whereas the previous deal with ESPN called for only one nationally televised game a week, SportsChannel America televised hockey two nights a week in NHL cities and three nights a week elsewhere.

It was very rare to have a regular-season game on SportsChannel America that wasn't a regional SportsChannel production from the Chicago Blackhawks, Hartford Whalers, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders or Philadelphia Flyers. The San Jose Sharks were added in 1991–92. As previously suggested, SportsChannel America for the most part, used the local telecasts. The dedicated SportsChannel America station was little more than an overflow channel in the New York area for SportsChannel New York.

Special programming[edit | edit source]

In 1989, SportsChannel America provided the first ever American coverage of the NHL Draft.[29] In September 1989, SportsChannel America covered the Washington Capitals' training camp in Sweden and pre-season tour[30] of the Soviet Union. The Capitals were joined by the Stanley Cup champion Calgary Flames, who held training camp in Prague, Czechoslovakia and then ventured to the Soviet Union. Each team played four games against Soviet National League clubs. Games were played in Moscow, Leningrad, Kiev and Riga. The NHL clubs finished with a combined 6–2 record against the top Soviet teams, including the Red Army club and Dynamo Moscow. Five of the eight contests were televised by SportsChannel America.

All-Star Game coverage[edit | edit source]

SportsChannel America was the exclusive American broadcaster of the 1989 All-Star Game. The following year, they covered the first ever NHL Skills Competition and Heroes of Hockey game. SportsChannel America would continue their coverage of these particular events through 1992. In 1991, SportsChannel America replayed the third period of the All-Star Game on the same day that it was played. That was because NBC[31][32][33][34][35][36] broke away from the live telecast during the third period in favor of Gulf War coverage.

Year Play-by-play Color commentator Ice level reporter Studio host Studio analysts
1989[37][38][39] Jiggs McDonald Scotty Bowman Gary Thorne Denis Potvin and Herb Brooks

Stanley Cup playoffs[edit | edit source]

Divisional finals[edit | edit source]
Year Teams Play-by-play Color commentator(s)
1989 Montréal-Boston Rick Peckham Gerry Cheevers, Dave Maloney, or Denis Potvin
Pittsburgh-Philadelphia (Games 1–5 aired on tape delay)[40][41] Mike Emrick Bill Clement
St. Louis-Chicago Pat Foley Dale Tallon
Calgary-Los Angeles[42] Jiggs McDonald Herb Brooks
1990 Boston-Montréal (Games 1–2 aired on tape delay)[43][44][45][46] Mike Emrick Bill Clement (Games 1–2, 4–5)
Peter McNab (Game 3)
New York Rangers-Washington (Games 3–5 aired on tape delay) Rick Peckham Gerry Cheevers, Denis Potvin, or Dave Maloney
Chicago-St. Louis[47][48][49][50][51] Pat Foley Dale Tallon
Edmonton-Los Angeles (joined-in-progress)[52][53] Jiggs McDonald Herb Brooks
1991 Boston-Montréal[54] Jiggs McDonald John Davidson
Pittsburgh-Washington (taped delay) Rick Peckham Gerry Cheevers
St. Louis-Minnesota[55] Mike Emrick Bill Clement
Los Angeles-Edmonton (joined-in-progress) Pat Foley Dale Tallon
1992 Montréal-Boston (CBC's feed; Game 1 was joined-in-progress; all other games on taped delay)[56][57] Bob Cole John Garrett and Dick Irvin, Jr.
New York Rangers-Pittsburgh (Game 1 was joined-in-progress)[58][59] Jiggs McDonald Ed Westfall
Detroit-Chicago[60][61] Pat Foley Dale Tallon
Vancouver-Edmonton (Games 1–4 used CBC's feed; Games 3–4 were joined-in-progress)[62] Chris Cuthbert (Games 1–4)
Pat Foley (Games 5–6)
Harry Neale (Games 1–4)
Dale Tallon (Games 5–6)
Conference finals[edit | edit source]
See also: NHL Conference Finals
Year Teams Play-by-play Color commentator(s) Ice level reporters
1989 Montréal-Philadelphia
Calgary-Chicago[63][64][65][66][67]
Mike Emrick Bill Clement
Montréal-Philadelphia
Calgary-Chicago [68][69][70][71]
Jiggs McDonald Herb Brooks
1990 Boston-Washington
[72][73]
Jiggs McDonald Bill Clement Mike Emrick and John Davidson
Edmonton-Chicago[74][75][76] Pat Foley Dale Tallon
1991 Boston-Pittsburgh[77][78][79][80][81][82][83][84][85][86][87][88][89] Jiggs McDonald John Davidson
Edmonton-Minnesota Mike Emrick Bill Clement
1992 Pittsburgh-Boston[90] Jiggs McDonald Bill Clement Mike Emrick and John Davidson
Chicago-Edmonton[91][92] Pat Foley Dale Tallon
Stanley Cup Finals[edit | edit source]
Year Teams Play-by-play Color commentator(s) Studio host Studio analysts Ice-level reporter{s)
1989[93][94][95][96] Calgary-Montréal Jiggs McDonald Bill Clement Mike Emrick[97] Herb Brooks
1990 Boston-Edmonton Jiggs McDonald Bill Clement Mike Emrick[98] John Davidson[99]
1991 Pittsburgh-Minnesota[100][101][102] Jiggs McDonald Bill Clement Mike Emrick[103] John Davidson
1992 Pittsburgh-Chicago[104][105][106] Jiggs McDonald Bill Clement Mike Emrick John Davidson

Production[edit | edit source]

A fair number of times in their first season, they would use their own production services for games. But very rarely would this sort of practice occur in the last three seasons. Since programming was so sparse otherwise on SportsChannel America, usually the games were replayed immediately following the live telecast.

For playoff coverage,[107] if any of the aforementioned teams made the playoffs, SportsChannel America focus on those teams, using their facilities. For example, SportsChannel Chicago produced the SportsChannel America coverage for the Blackhawks' 1990 playoff run. Because of Hawks owner Bill Wirtz's disdain for free and basic cable home telecasts of his games, the road games were shown in Chicago, with the home games only given short live look-ins as "bonus coverage". The same occurrence happened in 1992, but this time, Blackhawks' home games were broadcast on a pay-per-view basis via "Hawkvision".[108] Sometimes, they would use the CBC feed for other series (the Boston Bruins–Montréal Canadiens series, for example). For the Stanley Cup Finals, SportsChannel America used their own facilities. They would also use their own facilities for any Conference Final series that did not involve one of SportsChannel's regional teams. In 1989, both Conference Finals series involved two of SportsChannel's regional teams (Philadelphia and Chicago). SportsChannel asked Jiggs McDonald and Herb Brooks to call the Clarence Campbell Conference Final between Calgary and Chicago on SportsChannel America. SportsChannel America's master control was at a Cablevision studio in Oak Park, Illinois with its NHL studios located at Adelphi University on Long Island.

John Shannon was the senior producer of The NHL on SportsChannel America.

Announcers[edit | edit source]

Bob Papa[109] and Leandra Reilly were the studio hosts during the regular season coverage. Denis Potvin was the studio analyst during the regular season coverage. For the Stanley Cup Finals, Jiggs McDonald[110] called the play-by-play, and Bill Clement was the color commentator. Also during the Stanley Cup Finals, Mike Emrick[111][112][113] served as the host while John Davidson[114] served as the rinkside[115][116] and intermission analyst[117][118] (Herb Brooks filled that role in 1989).

Play-by-play[edit | edit source]

Color commentary[edit | edit source]

Studio/ice level personalities[edit | edit source]

Commentating crews[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

Chicago Blackhawks seasons[edit | edit source]

Hartford Whalers seasons[edit | edit source]

New York Islanders seasons[edit | edit source]

New Jersey Devils seasons[edit | edit source]

San Jose Sharks seasons[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Cup Finals Close 1992 SC America at YouTube
  2. NHL on SportsChannel America, About 769 results (0.43 seconds). Retrieved on 29 April 2013.
  3. NHL Open SportsChannel America 1988 at YouTube
  4. Blockus, Gary. "MAYBE ESPN DID FANS A FAVOR IN LOSING THE NHL", The Morning Call, November 16, 1988. 
  5. Demak, Richard (September 2, 1991). "Scorecard". Sports Illustrated. 
  6. Greenberg, Jay (October 8, 1990). "The Bucks Start Here". Sports Illustrated. 
  7. Bass, Alan (25 January 2011). The Great Expansion: The Ultimate Risk That Changed the Nhl Forever. iUniverse, 198. ISBN 9781450286077. 
  8. .Murphy, Austin (March 18, 1991). "Shooting Star". Sports Illustrated. 
  9. Joe, LaPointe. "HOCKEY; N.H.L. Again Signs Contract With SportsChannel America", New York Times, October 4, 1991. 
  10. Demak, Richard (February 17, 1992). "Scorecard". Sports Illustrated. 
  11. Gatehouse, Jonathon (October 2012). The Instigator: How Gary Bettman Remade the NHL and Changed the Game Forever. Triumph Books, 158. ISBN 9781623686567. 
  12. Nidetz, Steve. "NHL FEELS PINCH IN TV DEAL", Chicago Tribune, October 4, 1991. 
  13. Moshavi, Sharon D. (January 13, 1992). BC-1992-01-13.pdf, 78. }
  14. Barry, Sal (October 29, 2018). John Ziegler Did More Harm Than Good for Hockey.
  15. Moncour, Gilles (October 29, 2018). The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of John Ziegler's NHL reign.
  16. Strachan, Al. "NHL needs a TV partner", Toronto Sun, March 15, 2005. 
  17. Swift, E.M. (August 22, 1988). "Woe, Canada". Sports Illustrated. 
  18. Martzke, Rudy. "NHL broadcast boss pleased with cable move", May 2, 1989, p. 3C. 
  19. Staudohar, Paul D. (31 May 2018). Playing for Dollars: Labor Relations and the Sports Business. Cornell University Press, 138. ISBN 9781501717857. 
  20. Ryan, Bob. "Underexposed NHL needs to write Dear John letter to Ziegler", Baltimore Sun, October 3, 1991. 
  21. Barry, Sal (October 29, 2018). John Ziegler Did More Harm Than Good for Hockey.
  22. Staudohar, Paul D. (1996). Playing for dollars: labor relations and the sports business. Cornell University Press, 137. 
  23. Taaffe, William (June 27, 1988). "A Better Open; Too Much Brent". Sports Illustrated. 
  24. (January 16, 1989) "Scorecard". Sports Illustrated. 
  25. Gatehouse, Jonathon (October 2012). The Instigator: How Gary Bettman Remade the NHL and Changed the Game Forever. Triumph Books, 158. ISBN 9781623686567. 
  26. Greenberg, Jay (October 7, 1991). "Greed, Indeed". Sports Illustrated. 
  27. Swift, E.M. (October 19, 1982). "Don't Change That Channel". Sports Illustrated. 
  28. Archived copy.
  29. Allen, Kevin. "A look at the NHL's 27th draft", June 16, 1989, p. 8C. 
  30. Fachet, Robert. "Soviets In, With Army and Dynamo", December 26, 1988. 
  31. 1991 NHL All-Star Game, Chicago Stadium (intros, anthems) at YouTube
  32. 1991 NHL All-Star Game, Chicago Stadium (first period) at YouTube
  33. 1991 NHL All-Star Game, Chicago Stadium (first intermission, second period) at YouTube
  34. 1991 NHL All-Star Game, Chicago Stadium (second intermission, third period) at YouTube
  35. Sandomir, Richard. "TV SPORTS; Stars and Penguins: Cable Compatible", May 14, 1991. 
  36. Craig, Jack. "All-Star Game pinpoints NHL's limited exposure", January 18, 1991. 
  37. Mark Messier Interview - 1989 All-Star game (Edmonton) at YouTube
  38. February 7, 1989 Campbell - 9 @ Wales - 5 NHL All Star Game Sean Burke at YouTube
  39. Gretzky to Kurri Goal - 1989 All-Star Game (Edmonton) at YouTube
  40. Philadelphia Flyers at Pittsburgh Penguins - Patrick Division Finals Game 5 - April 25, 1989 at YouTube
  41. Philadelphia Flyers at Pittsburgh Penguins - Patrick Division Finals Game 7 - April 29, 1989 at YouTube
  42. Kings - Flames brawl 88-89 playoffs at YouTube
  43. NHL 19.04.1990 G1 Montreal Canadiens - Boston Bruins at YouTube
  44. NHL Apr.21/1990 Game2 Montreal Canadiens – Boston Bruins at YouTube
  45. NHL 23.04.1990 G3 Boston Bruins - Montreal Canadiens at YouTube
  46. NHL 27.04.1990 G5 Montreal Canadiens - Boston Bruins at YouTube
  47. NHL SC 1990 04 20 G2 STL CHI at YouTube
  48. NHL SC 1990 04 22 G3 STL CHI at YouTube
  49. NHL SC 1990 04 24 G4 STL CHI at YouTube
  50. NHL SC 1990 04 28 G6 STL CHI at YouTube
  51. NHL SC 1990 04 30 G7 STL CHI at YouTube
  52. Wayne Gretzky 'Puck Catch' Goal -1990 Playoffs at YouTube
  53. Gretzky Tripped...Kings fans upset -1990 Playoffs at YouTube
  54. NHL 25.04.1991 G5 Montreal Canadiens - Boston Bruins at YouTube
  55. St. Louis Blues vs Minnesota North Stars 4-24-91Game#4 Norrris Finals at YouTube
  56. NHL 03.05.1992 G1 Boston Bruins - Montreal Canadiens at YouTube
  57. NHL 09.05.1992 G4 Montreal Canadiens - Boston Bruins at YouTube
  58. Classic: Penguins @ Rangers 05/05/92 at YouTube
  59. May 13, 1992 - New York Rangers at Pittsburgh Penguins - Game 6 - Patrick Division Final at YouTube
  60. NHL 06.05.1992 G3 Detroit Red Wings - Chicago Blackhawks at YouTube
  61. NORRIS DIVISION FINALS 1992 - Game 4 - Chicago Blackhawks @ Detroit Red Wings at YouTube
  62. NHL 06.05.1992 G3 Vancouver Canucks - Edmonton Oilers at YouTube
  63. Flyers vs. Canadiens 1989 Wales Conference Final Game 5 (1st Period) at YouTube
  64. Flyers vs. Canadiens 1989 Wales Conference Final Game 5 (2nd Period) at YouTube
  65. Flyers vs. Canadiens 1989 Wales Conference Final Game 5 (3rd Period) at YouTube
  66. Flyers vs. Canadiens 1989 Wales Conference Final Game 5 (OT) at YouTube
  67. Philadelphia Flyers vs Montreal Canadiens. 11 may 1989 at YouTube
  68. Calgary Flames Vs Chicago Blackhawks 05.06.89 at YouTube
  69. Blackhawks vs. Flames 1989 Campbell Conference Final Game 5 (1st Period) at YouTube
  70. Blackhawks vs. Flames 1989 Campbell Conference Final Game 5 (2nd Period) at YouTube
  71. Blackhawks vs. Flames 1989 Campbell Conference Final Game 5 (3rd Period) at YouTube
  72. Video at YouTube
  73. Video at YouTube
  74. Sportschannel 1990 Playoffs Opening (Oilers-Blackhawks) at YouTube
  75. Pat Foley Bloopers (SportsChannel) - May 10,1990 at YouTube
  76. Edmonton Oilers Win 1990 Campbell Conference at YouTube
  77. 5/1/91 - Mullen (Bourque) at YouTube
  78. 5/1/91 - Stevens (Recchi, Lemieux) at YouTube
  79. 5/1/91 - Errey (Murphy) at YouTube
  80. 5/5/91 - Stevens (Stanton, Francis) at YouTube
  81. 5/5/91 - Francis (Stevens, Murphy) at YouTube
  82. 5/5/91 - Jennings (Lemieux, Recchi) at YouTube
  83. 5/5/91 - Lemieux at YouTube
  84. 5/11/91 - Murphy (Lemieux, Young) at YouTube
  85. 5/11/91 - Bourque (Recchi) at YouTube
  86. 5/11/91 - Roberts (Recchi, Lemieux) at YouTube
  87. 5/11/91 - Recchi (Roberts, Murphy) at YouTube
  88. 5/11/91 - Lemieux (Murphy) at YouTube
  89. 5/11/91 - Penguins Win Wales Conference Championship at YouTube
  90. May 17, 1992 - Boston Bruins at Pittsburgh Penguins - Game 1 - Wales Conference Final at YouTube
  91. NHL Clarence Campbell Conference Finals 1992 - Game 3 - Chicago Blackhawks @ Edmonton Oilers at YouTube
  92. 1992 Stanley Cup Semi Final Chicago vs Edmonton Game 4 at YouTube
  93. Canadiens vs. Flames 1989 Stanley Cup Final Game 5 (1st Period) at YouTube
  94. Canadiens vs. Flames 1989 Stanley Cup Final Game 5 (2nd Period) at YouTube
  95. Canadiens vs. Flames 1989 Stanley Cup Final Game 5 (3rd Period) at YouTube
  96. SportsChannel America 1989 Stanley Cup Finals Game 6 Intro Theme at YouTube
  97. Flames win Stanley Cup SC America 1989 at YouTube
  98. 1990 Stanley Cup Finals - Game 5 - Opening (Sportschannel) at YouTube
  99. Mark Messier Interview - 1990 Stanley Cup at YouTube
  100. Classic: North Stars @ Penguins 05/17/91 at YouTube
  101. 1991 Stanley Cup Finals Game#4 Pittsburgh Penguins vs Minnesota North Stars at YouTube
  102. Minnesota North Stars at Pittsburgh Penguins - Stanley Cup Finals Game 5 - May 25, 1991 at YouTube
  103. 5/25/91 - Penguins Win First Stanley Cup (3 - SportsChannel) at YouTube
  104. Classic: Blackhawks @ Penguins 05/26/92 at YouTube
  105. Classic: Blackhawks @ Penguins 05/28/92 at YouTube
  106. NHL 1992 Stanley Cup Finals - Pittsburgh Penguins at Chicago Blackhawks - Game 4 Full Game at YouTube
  107. Hiestand, Michael. "Schmidt tries to ease into broadcasting job", April 5, 1990, p. 3C. 
  108. Wilbon, Michael. "FOR NHL TO GROW, ZIEGLER'S GOT TO GO", Washington Post, June 1, 1992. 
  109. Woodward, Steve. "Lighter load at ABC doesn't bother McKay", April 12, 1990, p. 3C. 
  110. Cup Finals close 1992 SC America at YouTube
  111. Flames win Stanley Cup SC America 1989 at YouTube
  112. 1990 Stanley Cup Finals - Game 5 - Opening (Sportschannel) at YouTube
  113. 5/25/91 – Penguins Win First Stanley Cup (3 – SportsChannel) at YouTube
  114. Bradley, Jeff. "A Strong Voice for Hockey", Sports Illustrated, May 13, 1991. 
  115. Mark Messier Interview - 1990 Stanley Cup at YouTube
  116. 5/25/91 – Penguins Win First Stanley Cup (1 – SportsChannel) at YouTube
  117. Bradley, Jeff (May 13, 1991). "A Strong Voice For Hockey". Sports Illustrated. 
  118. Scher, Jon (June 8, 1992). "Swept Away". Sports Illustrated. 
  119. Schuster, Rachel. "NBC's O'Neil known for boldness, making changes", May 11, 1989, p. 3C. 

External links[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

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