Despite paying a lot of money to the NHL to broadcast the league on its networks, ESPN isn’t exactly winning over hockey fans.
On Thursday’s edition of ESPN’s «First Take,» Stephen A. Smith, Michael Kay and Molly Qerim were discussing which New York professional sports team will win a championship next.
Kay, the Yankees’ main play-by-play announcer, responded with the New York Rangers, citing the recent addition of Patrick Kane.
Smith and Qerim thought Kay’s response was off the mark.
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«Oh lord… All I know about hockey is that the puck is black, and I love it [NHL commissioner] Gary Bettman, that’s my friend, who I always go to hockey games with… football, basketball, baseball,» Smith said.
«They don’t count…» Qerim replied, saying he meant «no disrespect.»
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Later that day, Kay hopped on his ESPN New York radio show with co-host Don La Greca, the Rangers broadcaster. The ESPN hosts are close, but La Greca was «disgusted» by Smith’s comments.
«I’m opposed to that. ‘Why are we sensitive?'» La Greca said on «The Michael Kay Show» when discussing why hockey fans didn’t appreciate the jab in their sport. «ESPN has rights. They broadcast games. They had the Stanley Cup final last year. And a major show of theirs just says they don’t count?…
«Stephen has to do a better job. He sits there, and they learn MMA, and he talks about MMA. They learn hockey, they talk about some hockey. I’m not saying you have to master every sport, but Michael says Rangers.» They do not count? And we’re supposed to say, ‘Yeah, I guess they don’t count.’ And are we sensitive? Give me a break. That’s bad work by Stephen. Terrible work by Stephen… I’m disgusted with him.»
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Kay had a pretty decent point. The Blueshirts reached the Eastern Conference finals last year and have only gotten better with many big trades in the past two weeks. The Nets and Knicks, despite the latter’s recent hot streak, aren’t exactly championship favorites.
The World Series (Yankees and Mets) won’t be played until the end of October, and the Jets and Giants will probably be out watching the Super Bowl in more than 11 months.
The Rangers sit third in the Metropolitan Division and can take on the Hudson River rival New Jersey Devils in the first round of the NHL Playoffs.