I hope this letter finds you in good fiscal health, as that has historically been something you have struggled long and hard into the night with. As a fan of the Boston Bruins and of hockey in general, I don’t think I will be seeing much of you any more, and nor will you see much of me. This is the best possible outcome for the both of us.
I still remember the days we first became acquainted after the ‘04 Lockout and our first, admittedly poor impression. We had been hurt, and at that point were willing to put up with anything, even moving from the worldwide leader in sports to deep into a cable package so you could re-run episodes of Law and Order or some other crime drama was an adjustment we all had to make, particularly in Boston, where the lockout heralded a sign of great change already. You told us national games were coming and for the most part it’s been true, but they also began airing almost two months into the season.
Then came your friends, some of which people liked, like Doc Emrick, and a bunch more embarrassing, obnoxious, and depressing jackanapes that frankly made any time we had to flip over to channel 690, or even worse, try to convince a bartender to find the game on the TVs, to watch NHL hockey a slog when it meant we’d have to listen to some of the oldest, moistest, dustiest old men give backhanded compliments towards star players, and pumped up grinders and fourth liners as a matter of principal. Past conduct by your panelists definitely didnt matter, all that mattered was that you could justify running ads in between their word vomit. It made watching your product a chore. Made even worse is how much you made it clear for all of the NHL's loyalty, you just didn't care. And not just after the TNT/ESPN contracts were announced, you didn't really care the minute the exclusivity contract was signed, did you? Did it ever occur to you that Buffalo after 2011 was going to be that bad and probably didn’t deserve all those national dates while many of the california teams were approaching their Zenith? Is it any wonder then that the NHL, a league already pretty bad at marketing it's product, had trouble moving eyes to the matchup of Defending Stanley Cup Champions and an Original Six cinderella story? Did you ever really care at all?
That's not even to say we didn't have some good times! We Boston fans were lucky to be a big market team: will always have the two Winter Classic victories, the 2011 Cup run, and most recently the Tahoe game that made for the kind of hockey you can increasingly only dream about! You pointed cameras at hockey teams that hadn’t won the Stanley Cup in their history three separate times!
But the good times were only noticeable because they were so infrequent. The amount of frustration with how slick your production could look and how bafflingly unpleasant the on-air personalities could be was too much. Your insistence on treating the game like an also-ran in sports while also having that exclusive contract was infuriating. And now, at long last, it is over.
I admit, there will be some getting used to ESPN’s take on things after years away; I imagine I’ll still reflexively roll my eyes when the inside-the-glass reporter is thrown to for ten seconds because I’m still expecting Pierre McGuire’s deeply cringeworthy “analysis” about where a player played in high school or some screed about numbers that didnt involve the word "hits" scaring him even if I know the Sens put that in their boardrooms, I might hold my remote awaiting to purposefully change the channel expecting the wizened visage of misplaced coaching megalomania to mumble out a few words, and I might just mentally still hear the theme song which, if there’s one thing you actually nailed about your broadcasts, it’s unquestionably that. But I will move on, and I’m prepared to move on. As will you, no doubt.
My only hope for you in the future is that you do learn something from this; you’ve been contracting your business over the last year thanks to The Thing, and have bet on your Peacock service to guide you. You bet on Vince Mcmahon’s idea of pro wrestling and Football and the Olympics. Controversial all, but all will make your money back and then some. Because taking chances was never in your wheelhouse, because being
I will miss some parts of it, but I won’t miss you.
I wish you all the best in whatever future endeavor your corporate overlord at Comcast decides you need to do next.
With something adjacent to affection,
P.S. Son of a bitch I take it all back
Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane won the best player in the NHL award at the ESPY’s.— Daniel Greenberg (@ChiSportUpdates) July 11, 2021