Yesterday, I woke up to find out that ESPN laid off many high-profile people including some very good hockey writers. Spared by the knife was John Buccigross, he’s employed with the network until July 1, 2017, when his contract expires. No one seems to know what will happen to Bucci after July 1st.
Here’s the list of talented NHL writers/personalities that will no longer be at ESPN.
Scott Burnside, NHL columnist
Joe McDonald, Hockey writer
Pierre LeBrun, Hockey insider
ESPN network president John Skipper sent out this email to his employees.
“A necessary component of managing change involves constantly evaluating how we best utilize all of our resources, and that sometimes involves difficult decisions,” Skipper wrote. “Our content strategy – primarily illustrated in recent months by melding distinct, personality-driven SportsCenter TV editions and digital-only efforts with our biggest sub-brand – still needs to go further, faster . . . and as always, must be efficient and nimble. Dynamic change demands an increased focus on versatility and value, and as a result, we have been engaged in the challenging process of determining the talent – anchors, analysts, reporters, writers and those who handle play-by-play – necessary to meet those demands. We will implement changes in our talent lineup this week. A limited number of other positions will also be affected and a handful of new jobs will be posted to fill various needs.” (Matt Bonesteel, Miami Herald)
Translation, we’re struggling financially and we’re moving on with younger, less expensive talent who we’ll play a lot less. This seems to be a recurring tune lately in the sports media world.
Here’s the problem as I see it, ESPN has become unwatchable, especially for the hockey fans. If you’re a hockey fan, ESPN isn’t a channel for you. The network gives us little in the way of hockey coverage, and except for the NCAA hockey (NCAA Regional Championship and the Frozen Four) and an occasional World Cup of Hockey. Oh yeah, ESPN SportsCenter gives us a few minutes of hockey highlights before they quickly return to basketball or some other random sport. With that in mind, the only time that I watch ESPN is for football and hockey games. I could care less about wall-to-wall NBA coverage.
With yesterday’s layoffs, ESPN has sent a message that they don’t care the sport of hockey. I think ESPN could learn a lot from Canada’s TSN. When every I travel to Canada, the first thing that I want to know is what channel is TSN and Sports Net CA on? TSN does sports coverage the right way.
Right now, NBC and the NHL Network is filling the void for NHL hockey fans. The Fox Sports Network, Big Ten Network, NESN and CBS Sports Network have done a great job supplying college hockey fans with great coverage. We don’t need you ESPN.