Turner Sports is bringing on its biggest star to help drop the puck on TNT’s NHL coverage. NBA analyst Charles Barkley is joining their Wednesday night telecast of NHL games to debut the sport on TNT.
Barkley is famous for his antics and analysis on TNT’s Inside the NBA, and Turner wants some of that same feel for their brand new hockey studio team.
The analyst is a big NHL fan and is joining voices like studio host Liam McHugh “The Great One” Wayne Gretzky, 10-year NHL veteran Anson Carter, three-time Stanley Cup Champion Rick Tocchet, along with hockey personality and former NHL veteran Paul Bissonnette.
Barkley has plenty of influence at Turner, and he helped seal the deal with Gretzky.
“Charles Barkley is a good friend, and he called me every single day and said, ‘This will be fun for you,’” Gretzky told Sportsnet 590 in Toronto this past July, “and ultimately I decided, OK, this is something I’ve got to try, and I’m really looking forward to it. It’s going to be exciting.”
Don’t expect Gretzky to get as zany as Barkley does during the NBA season. “The Great One” just wants to be himself in the new TNT hockey studio.
“I love everything about our game, and I told everyone at Turner and Charles, ‘Look, I’m not a controversial guy. I’m not going to be that guy that’s going to be so negative on players. I’m the exact opposite, so if you’re looking for that guy, I’m not the right guy.’
“People have said to me … ‘what are you going to do, what are you going to be like?’ I’m going to be Wayne Gretzky. I’m going to be forthright. I feel like I know the game, I feel like I respect the game, and I’m just really excited about being part of it again.”
TNT airs its first NHL game tonight when the New York Rangers visit the Washington Capitals.
Henrik Lundqvist Joins MSG Networks’ Rangers Coverage
“The goaltender played 15 seasons with the Rangers and ended his career with a franchise-record 459 wins, the sixth most in NHL history.”
MSG Networks is adding a familiar face to New York Rangers broadcasts. Long-time goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is joining MSG Networks as a studio analyst on various Rangers broadcasts throughout the season.
The goaltender played 15 seasons with the Rangers and ended his career with a franchise-record 459 wins, the sixth most in NHL history.
“It’s exciting to be a rookie again, and to join my new teammates Steve [Valiquette] and John [Giannone] on MSG Networks this season,” Lundqvist said in a press release. “The Rangers run through my blood, and I can’t wait to break down games for the best fans in hockey.”
The franchise legend joins former teammate and Rangers analyst Steve Valiquette and host John Giannone in the studio for pregame, intermission, and postgame coverage, starting on Thursday, Oct. 14, when the Rangers battle the Dallas Stars on the network’s first regular-season telecast.
“We are thrilled to welcome Henrik Lundqvist, one of the most iconic and beloved figures in Rangers history, to the MSG Networks family and add his engaging presence to our Rangers studio team,” said Andrea Greenberg, President, and CEO, MSG Networks. “After an exceptional and dominant playing career on the ice, Henrik will undoubtedly continue to bring that same level of excellence to our Rangers broadcasts as an analyst this season.”
Lundqvist made it onto the NHL All-Star team five times and ended his career with the most wins by a European-born goaltender. At one point, the goalie was the rock that helped New York punch 11 playoff tickets in a 12-year span.
Outside of the NHL, Henrik Lundqvist brought home a gold medal with the Swedish men’s team at the 2006 Winter Olympics. Lundqvist joins a full Rangers’ broadcast team that carries the telecast on MSG Networks, with the radio call from Kenny Albert, and former Rangers captain Dave Maloney airing on ESPN 98.7.
Jeff Van Gundy: I Am Trying To Be Gentler On Referees
“As an analyst, the most important thing Van Gundy tries to do is call the action how he sees it.”
On October 20, Jeff Van Gundy will be back in the booth with Mike Breen and Mark Jackson for another NBA season at ESPN. Van Gundy has been one of the lead analysts at ESPN since 2007 after being a head coach in the NBA from 1996-2007 with the New York Knicks and Houston Rockets.
Van Gundy was a guest on the most recent episode of the Sports Media With Richard Deitsch Podcast and he was asked by Deitsch why he feels he has lasted as long as he has in the broadcasting business. Van Gundy pointed to Tim Corrigan (senior coordinating producer for ESPN).
“It comes back to the people you work for. Upper management has changed a lot over time in my time at ESPN. The direct bosses have changed a lot. Tim Corrigan has been my boss ever since I’ve been there. His trust in what Mike, Mark, and I are doing has been appreciated. That doesn’t mean he never comes back at me and goes that was stupid or you can’t stay that. I like it. He’s both a friend and a boss and that’s a hard line to walk.”
As Jeff Van Gundy has done more games over the last 10+ years, he has tried to be more considerate of criticizing officials when he is on the air because he isn’t trying to be controversial on purpose.
“I think for a while when I first started maybe from my coaching background, whatever I saw from them, I would never let it go. Some in the NBA would say I need to do it a lot more. I was always astounded how personal people take it when you talk about officiating, but playing, they expect you to critique what’s going on and coaching moves.”
As an analyst, the most important thing Jeff Van Gundy tries to do is call the action how he sees it. When he does prep for upcoming broadcasts, he told Deitsch that he doesn’t try to focus on specific stats. Instead, he keeps his prep simple and looks for trends that stand out.
“I don’t really do a whole lot other than watch. I just like to watch. Like to watch games. I have a few friends I talk to in the NBA, but it’s not like I’m sitting there calling a lot of people….I would say it’s as simple as I think this is where a color guy has it really good. I’m not a stats guy. I don’t throw out a lot of stats. You have to find what you feel is best broadcasting-wise. I know the stats on the teams, but it’s not like I’m ever going to say this guy’s shooting 44% from three unless it’s something that stands out.”
Van Gundy’s first regular season game with fellow color-commentator Mark Jackson, play-by-play man Mike Breen, and sideline reporter Lisa Salters for the 2021-22 season will be on October 20 when the Knicks host the Boston Celtics at Madison Square Garden (7:30 pm ET, ESPN).
ESPN Adds Weeknight Wild Card Round Game
The inaugural Monday night NFL Wild Card game will be played on January 17th, 2022 as the finale of wild card weekend.
There were reports in September that the NFL was considering having a Wild Card Weekend game played on Monday Night. That is now in full effect, as The Walt Disney Company and the NFL have reached a five year rights agreement for ESPN to present the Monday night Wild Card game beginning with the 2021 season and continuing through the 2025 season.
The inaugural Monday night NFL Wild Card game will be played on January 17th, 2022 as the finale of wild card weekend. This will be the first weekday primetime NFL playoff game.
ESPN will have Megacast coverage of the game, offering both the traditional coverage from the Monday Night Football crew, as well as the Manningcast featuring Peyton and Eli Manning on ESPN2.
This is a smart move for both sides. ESPN gets playoff football. The NFL is replacing the Saturday afternoon Wild Card game which has notably had severely low ratings in the past. Last year’s Wild Card game between the Bills and Colts was the least watched Wild Card game since 2003.
The 2021 season’s Wild Card game will be ESPN’s eighth NFL playoff game, having begun airing an annual Wild Card game following the 2014 regular season. ESPN will also add an NFL Divisional round game to its postseason slate, while continuing to air its existing Wild Card game, beginning in 2023.
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