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NHL on SportsChannel America

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Title: NHL on SportsChannel America  
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Subject: List of Stanley Cup Eastern Conference Finals broadcasters, List of NHL Entry Draft broadcasters, Hawkvision, List of Stanley Cup Western Conference Finals broadcasters, Peter Puck
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NHL on SportsChannel America

NHL on SportsChannel America
Also known as NHL on SportsChannel
Genre Sports
Created by SportsChannel America
Directed by Larry Brown
Billy McCoy
Starring See announcers section below
Country of origin  United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 4
Executive producer(s) Jeff Ruhe[1]
Producer(s) John Shannon
Cinematography Terry Ford
Dean Anderson
Bob Boykin
Marty Muzik
Running time 180 minutes or until game ends (including commercials)
Original channel SportsChannel America
Original run 1988–89 – June 1, 1992
Related shows Hockey Night in Canada (CBC)

NHL on SportsChannel America was the presentation of National Hockey League broadcasts[2] on the now defunct SportsChannel America cable television network.

Terms of the deal

Taking over for ESPN, SportsChannel's contract paid $51 million ($17 million[3] per year[4]) over three years, more than double what ESPN had paid ($24 million) for the previous three years[5] SportsChannel America managed to get a fourth NHL season for just $5 million.[6]

SportsChannel's availability

Unfortunately, SportsChannel America was only available in a few major markets,[7][8] and reached only a 1/3 of the households that ESPN did at the time.[9][10] SportsChannel America was seen in fewer than 10 million households.[11] In comparison, by the 1991–92 season, ESPN was available in 60.5 million homes whereas SportsChannel America was available in only 25 million. As a matter of fact, in the first year of the deal (1988–89), SportsChannel America was available in only 7 million homes when compared to ESPN's reach of 50 million.[12] When the SportsChannel deal ended in 1992, the league returned to ESPN[13] for another contract that would pay $80 million over five years.

SportsChannel America took advantage of using their regional sports networks' feed of a game, graphics and all, instead of producing a show from the ground up, most of the time. Distribution of SportsChannel America across the country was limited to cities that had a SportsChannel regional sports network or affiliate. Very few cable systems in non-NHL territories picked it up as a stand alone service. Regional affiliates of the Prime Network would sometimes pick up SportsChannel broadcasts, but this was often only during the playoffs, and often to justify the cost, some cable providers carrying it during the playoffs only carried it as a pay-per-view option. SportsChannel America also did not broadcast 24 hours a day at first, usually on by 6 p.m., off by 1 or 2 a.m., then a sportsticker for the next 16 hours.


Since SportsChannel Philadelphia did not air until January 1990, PRISM (owned by Rainbow Media, the owners of SportsChannel, at the time) picked up the 1989 Stanley Cup Finals. Other than that, there was no NHL television coverage in Philadelphia except for the Flyers for the first half of the original deal.


As previously mentioned, the NHL would return to ESPN following the 1991-92 season. Shortly after the ESPN deal was signed, SportsChannel America would contend that its contract with the NHL gave them the right to match third-party offers for television rights for the 1992–93 season. SportsChannel America accused the NHL of violating a nonbinding clause. SportsChannel America argued that it had been deprived of its contractual right of first refusal for the 1992–93 season. Appellate Division of New York State Supreme Court justice Shirley Fingerwood would deny SportsChannel America's request for an injunction against the NHL. Upholding that opinion, the appellate court found the agreement on which SportsChannel based its argument to be "too imprecise and ambiguous" and ruled that SportsChannel failed to show irreparable harm.

In the aftermath of losing the NHL, SportsChannel America was left with little more than outdoors shows and Canadian Football League games. For SportsChannel, the deal was a disaster overall. While the cable channel three years later, was available in 20 million homes (as previously mentioned), the broadcaster lost as much as $10 million on the agreement, and soon faded into obscurity.[14] Some local SportsChannel stations – which carried NHL games in their local markets – were not affected.

Coverage overview

Regular season coverage

SportsChannel America would televise about 80–100 games a season (whereas ESPN aired about 33 in the 1987–88 season). Whereas the previous deal with ESPN called for only one nationally televised game a week, SportsChannel America televised hockey two nights a week in NHL cities and three nights a week elsewhere.

It was very rare to have a regular-season game on SportsChannel America that wasn't a regional SportsChannel production from the Chicago Blackhawks, Hartford Whalers, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders or Philadelphia Flyers. The San Jose Sharks were added in 1991–92. As previously suggested, SportsChannel America for the most part, used the local telecasts. The dedicated SportsChannel America station was little more than an overflow channel in the New York area for SportsChannel New York.

Special programming

In 1989, SportsChannel America provided the first ever American coverage of the NHL Draft.[15] In September 1989, SportsChannel America covered the Washington Capitals' training camp in Sweden and pre-season tour[16] of the Soviet Union. The Capitals were joined by the Stanley Cup champion Calgary Flames, who held training camp in Prague, Czechoslovakia and then ventured to the Soviet Union. Each team played four games against Soviet National League clubs. Games were played in Moscow, Leningrad, Kiev and Riga. The NHL clubs finished with a combined 6–2 record against the top Soviet teams, including the Red Army club and Dynamo Moscow. Five of the eight contests were televised by SportsChannel America.

All-Star Game coverage

SportsChannel America was the exclusive American broadcaster of the 1989 All-Star Game. The following year, they covered the first ever NHL Skills Competition and Heroes of Hockey game. SportsChannel America would continue their coverage of these particular events through 1992. In 1991, SportsChannel America replayed the third period of the All-Star Game on the same day that it was played. That was because NBC broke away from the live telecast during the third period in favor of Gulf War coverage.

Playoff broadcast anomalies

Taped delayed playoff broadcasts

Year Round Teams Games Play-by-play Color commentator(s) Ice level reporter(s)
1989 Divisional semifinals Montreal-Hartford Games 1–4 Rick Peckham Gerry Cheevers
Bruins-Buffalo Game 5 Rick Peckham Gerry Cheevers
Divisional finals Pittsburgh-Philadelphia Games 1–5 Mike Emrick Bill Clement
1990 Divisional semifinals Boston-Hartford Games 1, 3 and 5 Rick Peckham Gerry Cheevers
New York Rangers-New York Islanders Games 2 and 4 Jiggs McDonald Ed Westfall
Divisional finals Boston-Montreal Games 1-2 Jiggs McDonald (Game 1)
Rick Peckham (Game 2)
Ed Westfall (Game 1)
Dave Maloney (Game 2)
New York Rangers-Washington Games 3-5 Jiggs McDonald (Games 3-4)
Rick Peckham (Game 5)
Ed Westfall (Games 3-4)
Dave Maloney (Game 5)
1991 Divisional semifinals Boston-Hartford Games 1-6 Rick Peckham Gerry Cheevers
Divisional finals Pittsburgh-Washington Games 1-5 Rick Peckham (Games 1-3)
Mike Emrick (Games 4-5)
Gerry Cheevers (Games 1-3)
Bill Clement (Games 4-5)
1992 Divisional semifinals Montreal-Hartford Games 1-7 Rick Peckham Gerry Cheevers
Divisional finals Montreal-Boston Games 2-4 (CBC's feed) Bob Cole John Garrett and Dick Irvin, Jr. Ron MacLean

Playoff broadcasts that were joined in progress

Year Round Teams Games Play-by-play Color commentator(s) Ice level reporter(s)
1990 Divisional semifinals Calgary-Los Angeles Games 5-6 (CBC's feed for Game 5) Chris Cuthbert (Game 5)
Mike Emrick (Game 6)
Jim Peplinski (Game 5)
Bill Clement (Game 6)
Divisional finals Edmonton-Los Angeles Games 1-4 Mike Emrick Bill Clement
1991 Divisional semifinals Los Angeles-Vancouver Games 1-2, 5-6 Jiggs McDonald Ed Westfall
Calgary-Edmonton Game 7 Pat Foley Dale Tallon
Divisional finals Los Angeles-Edmonton Games 1-6 (CBC's feed for Games 3-4, 6) Mike Emrick (Games 1-2)
Don Wittman (Games 3-4, 6)
Rick Peckham (Game 5)
Bill Clement (Games 1-2)
Harry Neale (Games 3-4, 6)
Gerry Cheevers (Game 5)
Steve Armitage (Games 3-4, 6)
1992 Divisional semifinals Los Angeles-Edmonton Games 3-4, 6 (CBC's feed) Don Wittman Jim Peplinski Steve Armitage
Divisional finals New York Rangers-Pittsburgh Game 1 Jiggs McDonald Ed Westfall
Montreal-Boston Game 1 (CBC's feed) Bob Cole John Garrett and Dick Irvin, Jr. Ron MacLean
Vancouver-Edmonton Games 3-4 (CBC's feed) Chris Cuthbert Harry Neale Scott Russell


A fair amount of times in their first season, they would use their own production services for games. But very rarely would this sort of practice occur in the last three seasons. Since programming was so sparse otherwise on SportsChannel America, usually the games were replayed immediately following the live telecast.

For playoff coverage,[17] if any of the aforementioned teams made the playoffs, SportsChannel America would focus on those teams, using their facilities. Sometimes, they would use the CBC feed for other series (the Boston Bruins–Montreal Canadiens series, for example). For the Stanley Cup Championship, SportsChannel America would use their own facilities. They would also use their own facilities for any Conference Final series that did not involve one of SportsChannel's regional teams.

John Shannon was the senior producer of The NHL on SportsChannel America.


Bob Papa[18] and Leandra Reilly were the studio hosts during the regular season coverage. For the Stanley Cup Finals, Jiggs McDonald served as the play-by-play man while Bill Clement was the color commentator. Also during the Stanley Cup Finals, Mike Emrick[19][20] served as the host while John Davidson served as the rinkside[21] and intermission anaylst.[22][23]


Color commentary

Studio/ice level personalities

Commentating crews

See also

Chicago Blackhawks seasons
Hartford Whalers seasons
New Jersey Devils seasons
New York Islanders seasons
Philadelphia Flyers seasons
San Jose Sharks seasons

Conference Finals broadcasters

Wales (Eastern)
Year Teams Play-by-play Color commentator(s) Ice level reporter(s)
1989 Montreal-Philadelphia Mike Emrick Bill Clement
1990 Boston-Washington Jiggs McDonald Bill Clement Mike Emrick
1991 Boston-Pittsburgh Jiggs McDonald John Davidson
1992 Pittsburgh-Boston Jiggs McDonald Bill Clement Mike Emrick
Campbell (Western)
Year Teams Play-by-play Color commentator(s) Ice level reporter(s)
1989 Calgary-Chicago Jiggs McDonald Herb Brooks
1990 Edmonton-Chicago Pat Foley Dale Tallon
1991 Edmonton-Minnesota Mike Emrick Bill Clement
1992 Chicago-Edmonton Pat Foley Dale Tallon

See also


  1. ^ Cup Finals Close 1992 SC America on YouTube
  2. ^ "NHL on SportsChannel America, About 769 results (0.43 seconds)". Google Books. Retrieved 29 April 2013. 
  3. ^ Demak, Richard (September 2, 1991). "Scorecard". Sports Illustrated. 
  4. ^ Greenberg, Jay (October 8, 1990). "The Bucks Start Here". Sports Illustrated. 
  5. ^ .Murphy, Austin (March 18, 1991). "Shooting Star". Sports Illustrated. 
  6. ^ Demak, Richard (February 17, 1992). "Scorecard". Sports Illustrated. 
  7. ^ Swift, E.M. (August 22, 1988). "Woe, Canada". Sports Illustrated. 
  8. ^ Martzke, Rudy (May 2, 1989). "NHL broadcast boss pleased with cable move". USA Today. p. 3C. 
  9. ^ Staudohar, Paul D. (1996). Playing for dollars: labor relations and the sports business. Cornell University Press. p. 137. 
  10. ^ Taaffe, William (June 27, 1988). "A Better Open; Too Much Brent". Sports Illustrated. 
  11. ^ "Scorecard". Sports Illustrated. January 16, 1989. 
  12. ^ Greenberg, Jay (October 7, 1991). "Greed, Indeed". Sports Illustrated. 
  13. ^ Swift, E.M. (October 19, 1982). "Don't Change That Channel". Sports Illustrated. 
  14. ^ [1]
  15. ^ Allen, Kevin (June 16, 1989). "A look at the NHL's 27th draft". USA Today. p. 8C. 
  16. ^ Fachet, Robert (December 26, 1988). "Soviets In, With Army and Dynamo". Washington Post. 
  17. ^ Hiestand, Michael (April 5, 1990). "Schmidt tries to ease into broadcasting job". USA Today. p. 3C. 
  18. ^ Woodward, Steve (April 12, 1990). "Lighter load at ABC doesn't bother McKay". USA Today. p. 3C. 
  19. ^ Flames win Stanley Cup SC America 1989 on YouTube
  20. ^ 5/25/91 - Penguins Win First Stanley Cup (3 - SportsChannel) on YouTube
  21. ^ 5/25/91 - Penguins Win First Stanley Cup (1 - SportsChannel) on YouTube
  22. ^ Bradley, Jeff (May 13, 1991). "A Strong Voice For Hockey". Sports Illustrated. 
  23. ^ Scher, Jon (June 8, 1992). "Swept Away". Sports Illustrated. 
  24. ^ Schuster, Rachel (May 11, 1989). "NBC's O'Neil known for boldness, making changes". USA Today. p. 3C. 

External links

  • The DrewL Bucket: Can OLN Help Rescue NHL?
  • NHL inks SCA deal for $5.5m. (cable television contract between National Hockey League and SportsChannel America) (Multichannel News)
  • CBA: TV and the price of expansion
  • Is the NHL better off?
  • ESPN fails to match, Comcast gets NHL
  • Dear Uncle Erza
  • The NHL on SportsChannel America (1988-1992)
  • Great Moments From, er, uh, NHL On SportsChannelAmerica?
  • The NHL's latest TV deal is a bad one for fans
  • NHL on SportsChannel America - Google Search (timeline)
    • 1988-89
    • 1989-90
    • 1990-91
    • 1991-92
    • 1992-93
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