Turner Sports prepared for their first Stanley Cup Playoffs

Liam McHugh is acquainted with the rigors of internet hosting studio shows during the Stanley Cup playoffs, specially individuals nights when game titles go to the numerous overtimes on the West Coast.

McHugh is in for some reduction this season. With Turner Sports and ESPN finding up the playoffs right after 16 several years, he will not be on almost each and every evening like he was for on NBC and NBCSN. TNT and TBS get their initially online games on Thursday just after ESPN and ESPN2 carried the initially 3 nights of the postseason.

“It will be odd not to be on all the time. I will say I feel there’s some thing fantastic about recharging your batteries, owning a working day or two days to phase away from it, observe it as an observer and then appear again fresh new based mostly on what you watched,” McHugh reported. “Because it does become Groundhog Working day. From time to time you don’t know what day the week is, and it feels like you are conversing about the exact same story about and around. So to come up for air is in all probability likely to be a very good detail for everyone.”

Turner hopes to go on the momentum from a productive normal period in the playoffs. Its game titles, largely on Wednesday evenings and Sunday afternoons, averaged 361,000 viewers. That is an enhance of 29% in excess of previous yr on NBCSN (280,000) and 24% as opposed with 2019-20 (292,000).

General, normal-season online games on TNT, ABC, and ESPN averaged 460,000, an 18% bounce above past 12 months (391,000) and up 15% vs. 2019-20 (398,000).

“More people are consuming the match. We’re at a point wherever people want what they want when they want it, how they want it, and that’s what we’re providing,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in an job interview with The Related Press. “What was the underpinning of our new media offers in the U.S. were simply because we considered — without the need of chopping and dicing it as well a lot — we desired there to be obtain to our game titles in additional spots but simple to obtain.”

The four playoff games on ESPN and ESPN2 on Monday’s opening day posted potent quantities: They averaged 576,000 viewers, a 17% improve from 2019, which was the past time the playoffs were being in a conventional structure. The Boston-Carolina match on ESPN (857,000) was the most-watched Activity 1 of a to start with-round collection on cable in 20 many years.

TNT and TBS will televise up to 49 playoff online games. Turner Sporting activities and ESPN will split the initially and 2nd rounds when each individual will have a conference remaining. The Stanley Cup Final will be on ABC this 12 months and TNT future season.

When ESPN even now experienced a core group with hockey working experience when it regained NHL rights previous yr, Turner commenced from scratch. Most arrived more than from NBC — like McHugh and the top asserting crew of Kenny Albert, Ed Olczyk and Keith Jones — but there have been some new faces.

The most significant adjust in between Turner and NBCSN has been the studio exhibit. McHugh and Anson Carter labored alongside one another at NBC, while Wayne Gretzky, Paul Bissonnette and Rick Tocchet have been new to Tv set. Gretzky will be a additional frequent presence in the studio for the duration of the playoffs.

Even while some questioned if the studio demonstrate would be “Inside the NBA” on ice, it has managed to build its individual id, mixing in pregame player interviews with news, assessment, and the occasional hijinks.

“At NBC, we often experienced this imaginative aspect, this pleasurable facet, but I believe Turner truly will take it to another stage,” producer David Gibson reported.

McHugh’s greatest query was how Gretzky would change to undertaking television for the first time. He “The Terrific One” has embraced it.

“You nonetheless want to listen to each little factor he has to say about hockey, but he’s also the person who can chirp the other fellas on the desk and can consider a chirp from them,” McHugh explained. “Because of that, it feels extra like 4 or 5 fellas sitting all around seeing hockey, definitely savoring it, but also supplying you some very good investigation alongside the way. It has definitely exceeded my anticipations.”

Albert claimed he discovered the speedy chemistry from all people in the studio when they go to them all through intermissions.

“There’s a whole lot of interaction, and everyone has pleasurable with it,” he reported. “That’s probably been one of the most important discrepancies is just the enjoyment in the studio this yr and the again and forth that we’ve been ready to have each right before through, and immediately after the game titles.”

McHugh will have two issues all through the playoffs — outlining to viewers that some West Coast games will begin on TruTV and HLN when the first activity isn’t finished, and finding Gretzky, Bissonnette and Tocchet all set for studio segments throughout marathon games.

“We’re heading to get late evenings, and they are heading to working experience the pleasure of it’s the late video game out West, and we are headed to quadruple overtime. And it is now two in the morning. So get an additional cup of coffee mainly because you need to have to have the very same vitality you experienced seven hrs in the past when we came on the air simply because the viewers really don’t anticipate you to search weary,” McHugh mentioned. “I consider I’m looking forward to these moments. For the reason that in the conclude, people are the kinds you recall.”


AP Hockey Author Stephen Whyno contributed to this tale.


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