NHL's return to ESPN had hockey fans in their feelings

·Hockey writer
·4-min read
The NHL is back on ESPN, and everything from the iconic theme song to the production and personalities had hockey fans talking on Tuesday. (Getty)
The NHL is back on ESPN, and everything from the iconic theme song to the production and personalities had hockey fans talking on Tuesday. (Getty)

The NHL is back on ESPN for the first time since 2004 and it’s been mixed reactions to their debut broadcast.

To open up the 2021-22 season, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning faced-off after the latter enjoyed a banner-raising ceremony and right from the get-go, things were noticeably different compared to the NBC Sports broadcasts of the past.

Of course, the best theme music in all of sports was back in action on Tuesday and everyone was going nuts.

The ice was glimmering in 4k resolution, the graphics were put on display, and the commentators were warmed up. After the extensive pre-game coverage and theme music in the hours leading up to puck drop, all that remained was the game itself.

And the network made a bit of a mistake right from the start, specifically with the audio.

Although it was relatively fixed in the middle of the first period, the sound was cranked on the live foley of sticks, skates, and players yelling at each other, while the commentator team of Ray Ferraro and Sean McDonagh was close to a whisper at the beginning. At least it’s something that was manageable and fixed in-game, and not something egregious like the scorebug being bad.

At least it’s not boring. The design is fairly simple, not as monotone as the old Fox Sports graphics that was just the team colour and abbreviation, but not as flashy as the multi-dimensional NBC bug. A balance that works — if only they could squeeze shots on goal on it, then everyone would be happy.

Speaking of being happy, one of the sport’s most loveable broadcasters was back on the air and providing his dulcet tones as the colour commentator.

We can look forward to more music, scorebugs, and beloved personalities on ESPN every Tuesday and Thursday throughout the NHL regular season. Not a bad start.

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