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BSM’s Producers Podcast – Troy Hughes – 105.3 The Fan

“Troy explains what goes into producing Shan and RJ, how 105.3 The Fan has grown, and how the audience has helped influence on-air ideas.”

Jason Barrett

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105.3 The Fan has cemented itself as one of the format’s best brands thanks in part to great talent, strong leadership, and play by play relationships. But one of the station’s secret weapons behind the scenes is Troy Hughes, who oversees the morning show with Shan Shariff & RJ Choppy. On this episode, Troy tells Demetri how he manages content creation on the morning show, being real and honest about the Dallas Cowboys, what makes the morning show different from The Musers, the length of time it took for the morning show to build chemistry, how Gavin Spittle helped The Fan reach a higher level, and more.

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BSM Writers

Chris Carrino Refuses to Be Slowed By Muscular Dystrophy

“There’s more than one path to success, and I’ve had to take a different path than the one that I maybe envisioned as a kid.”

Derek Futterman

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Normally, a broadcaster travels with the team they cover and adheres to a tight schedule; however, Brooklyn Nets’ radio play-by-play announcer Chris Carrino was convinced to stay on the road for an additional day. It came following a busy Sunday during which he called the Miami Dolphins’ afternoon matchup against the New York Jets from Hard Rock Stadium and then, that night, the Brooklyn Nets’ battle against the Miami Heat.

The NBA recently held its annual sales and marketing meeting in Miami and included an awards ceremony to honor those working in these departments among professional teams. Carrino was tricked into attending and, unbeknownst to him, named as a winner of the esteemed NBA Values of the Game Award.

The honor, which he shared with former Executive Vice President of Business Operations for the Milwaukee Bucks — the late-John Steinmiller — is given to an individual who illustrates the values of the league in their community. It came in the midst of Carrino’s 22nd year behind the microphone for the Nets, and while the recognition was in part for his work on the air, it also related to the circumstances he continuously battles just to be able to do his job.

During his sophomore year at Fordham University, life seemingly changed once Carrino realized a drastic decline in his athletic abilities. He was examined by a doctor and was expecting to be told to lift weights or take vitamins to improve his strength and conditioning.

Instead, he received the news that he had Facioscapulohumeral Muscular Dystrophy (FSHD) – a genetic disease that causes the progressive degeneration of several muscles, primarily those located in the face, shoulder blades and upper arms. There is no treatment or cure for this condition, indicative of a diagnosis that could have depleted Carrino’s will to succeed and suppressed his broadcasting abilities.

“It’s almost like you’re speeding up this aging process of your body, but more than normal,” he explained. “I look at an 80-year-old man get up out of a chair, and I’m jealous of how easily he can do it because I can’t do that; I used to be able to do it.”

It is a disease he calls “scary as hell,” eventually requiring the use of a wheelchair and arranging special accommodations in his quotidian routine. Carrino struggles with activities including getting out of bed, putting on clothes and climbing stairs.

“It slowly goes on, so you get to adjust as it goes, and I think that’s been the key to persevering with it over the years,” Carrino said. “You lose something maybe every year or so and you adjust. You slowly kind of get used to your new reality.”

Despite the diagnosis and its hardships, Carrino fostered a growth mindset and recognized that he would be defined not by his condition, but by how he reacted to it. With these principles in mind, he was able to build a successful career in sports media and remains immersed in the game of basketball.

In 1997, five years after his diagnosis, Carrino was promoted by the New Jersey Nets to work as its manager of broadcast operations, making him responsible for broadcasting-related activities and studio producing. One year later, Carrino stepped in for John Sterling, the backup play-by-play announcer for the New Jersey Nets, since he was traveling on a west coast road trip with the New York Yankees.

The primary radio play-by-play voice of the Nets was Bob Papa, but he usually would miss about 20 games per year to fulfill other obligations such as calling boxing on ESPN or New York Giants football on the radio. Having a chance to do play-by-play announcing was something he voiced to executives with the Nets, including former Vice President of Broadcasting Amy Scheer. Now his chance had finally arrived in the form of an April matchup against the New York Knicks – and he was determined to succeed.

“I did the game and it went really well,” Carrino said, “and they came to me afterwards and said, ‘You know what? From now on, you’re the backup.’”

Over the next several years, Carrino’s load of games with the Nets slowly increased to the point where he broadcast nearly 25 contests one season. When Lou Lamoriello was named CEO and chairman of the New Jersey Devils in 2000, he assumed the role of CEO and vice chairman with the New Jersey Nets. Lamoriello had a decision to make when Papa’s contract with the team expired. He knew that the Nets’ radio play-by-play job was highly-coveted by broadcasters in the market, but he wanted someone who treated the job as their primary focus.

“He came to me and said, ‘Hey, you’ve been the backup; everybody around here speaks very highly of you,’” Carrino remembered. “‘There’s a lot of people who want this job, as you can imagine, but I think you’ve earned the right to give it a shot – and I’m going to give you a shot.’ I always appreciate Lou Lamoriello for that.”

For the first two years as the radio voice of the Nets, the team went to the NBA Finals and suffered defeats from the Los Angeles Lakers (2001-02) and San Antonio Spurs (2002-03). It was during this time where Carrino adjusted into the role, honing his craft and developing a rapport with the fans. As a play-by-play announcer, he was focused on effectively portraying the action to listeners and describing what was occurring on the court, facets of the role to which he remains committed today. Additionally, he aimed to captivate the audience by refining the use of his voice and how to preserve it, akin to a musical instrument that people want to hear.

“There are times where it’s not imperative to listen to a broadcast, so how do I get it so you want to listen,” Carrino said. “Then there are times where the game takes over and it’s serious. That’s when they need to listen and you want to give them what they need.”

Just how to effectively maintain his voice was a lesson he learned in 2016, the first time he announced the NCAA men’s basketball tournament for Westwood One Radio. The opportunity had arisen in a spontaneous meeting between Carrino and Executive Vice President and Executive Producer at Westwood One Radio, Howard Deneroff, in which he shared that a chance to announce part of the tournament might become available.

Once the Seton Hall Pirates qualified for the NCAA tournament, Carrino was tabbed to be on the air for Westwood One Radio since Gary Cohen was obligated to be on the Seton Hall radio broadcast as its local play-by-play announcer.

In the midst of calling four matchups in one day on the radio, Carrino had to intensely prepare and focus on the games to effectively convey the excitement and energy to listeners. The task, while it may seem arduous, was the realization of a lifelong dream for Carrino who grew up watching Big East games on Monday nights called by Bill Rafferty and Mike Gorman.

“You’ve got to get your voice through four games, and I learned that the hard way,” Carrino said. “In the first year by the third game, my voice was starting to disappear and I had to massage it back. Tea; cough drops; laying out at different times – and just nurse your way through it. I don’t think it was that evident on the air but it was evident to me. The more you do it, it gets a little easier and it’s been really something that I look forward to every year.”

Tim Capstraw joined the Nets’ radio broadcasts in 2002 as its color commentator and has remained Carrino’s primary partner since. Capstraw had minimal previous experience in sports media, entering the role after doing television and radio analysis for college basketball in the Big Ten and Northeastern conferences. Before that, he was the head men’s basketball coach at Wagner College, his alma mater, working in that role for a decade before moving off of the hardwood.

Per Carrino’s recommendation, Capstraw studied the work of John Andariese, a former color commentator who often worked with Marv Albert. Providing analysis on a purely-aural medium such as radio is challenging in that it is essential the broadcast team remains synced with the flow of the game. Add in the fact that basketball is a sport with continuous action interspersed with abeyances in play and it becomes quite evident that synergy must exist between broadcasters to execute an appealing broadcast. Now over two decades later, Capstraw and Carrino remain a strong broadcast duo and close friends off the air who both try to make each other better.

“He’ll tell you about halfway through his first year together, he kind of had an epiphany where he kind of figured out the dance,” Carrino said of Capstraw. “I think the key to the longevity part of it with Tim and I is that we do genuinely get along so well with each other.”

As the years go on, Carrino’s physical condition continues to diminish, but his bliss and infatuation towards his occupation has steadily augmented. Eight years after becoming the primary play-by-play voice of the Nets, Carrino added another job working as a play-by-play announcer for Compass Media Networks’ coverage of the National Football League. From the beginning, he was paired with Brian Baldinger, a former offensive lineman who had previously worked in television, and he made a seamless adjustment to the booth.

“I was a little worried he was going to be a little too verbose or think that he had to dominate the broadcast,” Capstraw said of Baldinger. “The first time we worked together – the first series – I knew it was going to be great because he knew exactly when to get in and get out; he gave me enough time to set up the play [and] he had an understanding of what I was doing.”

The difficult part of balancing his duties in basketball and football comes in the contrasting nature of preparing. Carrino closely follows the Brooklyn Nets and has been with the organization for over three decades, rendering him familiar with its history and current events. Conversely, Carrino’s NFL broadcasts are national, meaning he does not follow one team each week and has to research the matchup and storylines both quantitatively and qualitatively.

“Every game’s like a test, and you have a week to study for the test,” he said. “It’s kind of an open-book test; you’ve got some notes that you have in front of you…. [On] a national broadcast, I think people understand that you’re not with these teams every day, but you’re still getting all the information that they need.”

With each passing day, Carrino knows his muscles are weakening; however, his fortitude and persistence remain strong. Throughout his career, he has been eager to take on new challenges and find ways to achieve his goals despite his condition. For example, Carrino’s neighbor accompanies him on road trips to call football games, helping him navigate the stadium and serving as a spotter while in the booth. The expenditure is covered by Compass Media and eases various difficulties Carrino combats in order to successfully arrive for the start of a broadcast. When it all begins, he genuinely becomes captivated by the game and absorbed in its action.

“My favorite time is when I’m just sitting at the arena and the ball is up in the air or the ball is kicked off because all the difficult things I have to do to get there are done, and now I just focus on something that I love to do,” Carrino said. “I consider play-by-play an art form, and as an artist, you love the fact that you can express yourself. [During] the games, I’m able to express myself, have fun and let loose.”

Whether it is doing play-by-play for three Olympic Games; hosting the Voice of the Nets podcast; or calling Los Angeles Angels baseball for a brief stint in 2012, Carrino has always been eager to take on new opportunities in sports media. He always wants to improve and strives to be at the top of his craft, but is satisfied with what he has been able to accomplish while enduring onerous circumstances.

“Sometimes you have a plan to get somewhere – and then something will happen that makes you have to drastically change that plan,” Carrino said. “There’s more than one path to success, and I’ve had to take a different path than the one that I maybe envisioned as a kid. Eventually, my willpower and my fortitude were strong enough that I achieved the things in my life; for the most part, I’ve done what I set out to do.”

Outside of his craft, Carrino established the Chris Carrino Foundation for FSHD, a nonprofit organization raising awareness towards his condition and raising money to research the disease. The impetus to start the foundation came from his wife, Laura, who challenged him to reveal his condition after keeping it private for many years.

He was willing to discuss it so long as there was a way in which he would be able to help others and urge support to discover treatment and/or a cure. Since the foundation’s inception in 2011, it has successfully raised money and led to breakthroughs regarding the disease.

“The more you can get out there and be open about it; the more you can tell people about it, the more you may find the right person who can be a game-changer,” Carrino said. “The kind of person who can offer the kind of support that we need both financially or whether it be a researcher or anything it could be – you’ve got to tell as many people as you can and hope that it finds the right people.”

Miles Davis is an acclaimed musician known for his abilities as a trumpeter and bandleader, specifically in the jazz genre. It took years of practice and repetition for Davis to truly become a master at his craft; in fact, he famously stated: “Sometimes, you have to play for a long time to be able to play like yourself.”

In order to succeed in broadcasting, Carrino believes you need to make it look simple while being both authentic and enthusiastic, and Davis’ words of wisdom, often cited by Capstraw, remain firmly rooted in his mind. Combined with his personality and indefatigability, Carrino demonstrates the values of the game and eagerly awaits the start of the action.

“It makes you take a step back and realize the longevity that I’ve had and how I’ve been around for a long time,” Carrino said regarding his award. “To be honored by your peers for that and be reflective on it; it was a great honor. I really did appreciate the award.”

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Beyond The Mask: Henrik Lundqvist Embraced 2nd Career in Sports Media

“It’s not a coincidence you see a lot of goalies working [on] panels and analyzing the game because that’s a huge part of playing in goal.”

Derek Futterman

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Plucking the strings of an acoustic guitar, Henrik Lundqvist found himself beneath the bright lights once again, poised to put on a worthy performance. Just as he aimed to stop pucks from going in the net as the star goaltender of the New York Rangers for 15 seasons, Lundqvist sought to captivate viewers as half of a musical duo featuring former NHL forward Paul Bissonnette.

Their performance of “Good Riddance” by Green Day was in tribute to Rick Tocchet, a former NHL on TNT studio analyst who recently departed the network to serve as head coach of the Vancouver Canucks.

Lundqvist serves as a studio analyst for TNT’s coverage of the NHL, breaking down players and teams throughout the broadcast and bringing his own unique style to the set. His pursuit of a post-playing career in sports media was no guarantee from the moment he retired in August 2021; in fact, he never intended to stop playing the game and competing for a Stanley Cup championship at that time.

During the 2019-20 season, Lundqvist had lost playing time to young goaltenders Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev, and by the year’s end, his deal was bought out by the team. In an effort to continue playing, Lundqvist signed a contract with the Washington Capitals – marking the first time in his NHL career that he would not step between the pipes for the Rangers.

Lundqvist never played a game for the team though, as it was discovered in a medical exam that he would need open-heart surgery to replace his aortic valve while also having an aortic root and ascending aortic replacement. Less than two months after the successful five-hour operation, he was back on the ice rehabbing and attempting to make a full recovery – but a few months in, he began to feel unexpected chest pain. Following a medical checkup, Lundqvist was told he had inflammation around his heart. It was a significant setback that required him to step off the ice, take off his goaltender equipment and rest for several months.

After discussions with his family and friends, Lundqvist determined that the risk of taking the ice outweighed the rewards and officially stepped away from the game. Rather than conjuring hypothetical scenarios wherein he did not experience the misfortune and played for the Capitals, Lundqvist looked to the future amid the ongoing global pandemic and thought about how he could best enjoy his retirement.

“I was just mentally in a very good place,” Lundqvist said. “I didn’t have a choice; I guess that makes it easier sometimes when the decision is made because you can’t go back-and-forth – ‘Should I?’ ‘Should I not?’ Yeah, I wanted to play but it was just not meant to be for me.”

Before any definitive resolution on his future endeavors was made though, the Rangers announced that the team would retire Lundqvist’s No. 30 in a pregame ceremony during the 2021-22 season, making him just the 11th player bestowed that honor in franchise history. As a five-time NHL All-Star selection, 2011 Vezina Trophy winner, and holder of numerous franchise records, Lundqvist had the accolades to merit this profound distinction.

Moreover, he was an important component in growing the game of hockey and contributing to the greater community, serving as the official spokesperson for the Garden of Dreams Foundation and founder of the Henrik Lundqvist Foundation. He also was a two-time recipient of the organization’s prestigious Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award, honoring the player “who goes above and beyond the call of duty.”

Throughout the night, attendees regaled Lundqvist with chants of “Hen-rik!” and were treated to flashbacks of some of his memorable career moments. The night was of monumental importance for Lundqvist, during which he expressed his gratitude to the Rangers’ organization, former teammates and fans. Then, Lundqvist — referred to as “The King” — promptly took his place among team legends beneath the concave ceiling of “The World’s Most Famous Arena.”

“When I look back at my career, I know, to me, it was all about preparation; how I practiced and how I prepared for each game at practice,” Lundqvist said. “There’s no regrets, and I hope people, when they think about how I played, [know] that it was 100% heart and commitment to the game.”

Before this ceremony though, Lundqvist and Rangers owner James Dolan had held several meetings with one another. The purpose of these conversations was to determine the best way for Lundqvist to remain involved with the team, its fans, and the community. In the end, he was named as a lead studio analyst on MSG Networks’ broadcasts of New York Rangers hockey before the start of the 2021-22 season: the start of his foray in sports media.

This past summer, Lundqvist negotiated a new deal with Madison Square Garden Sports and Madison Square Garden Entertainment in which he maintained his in-studio responsibilities while increasing involvement in other areas of its sports and entertainment ventures. In this new role, Lundqvist supports the business operations for both companies, assisting in digital content development, alumni relations, and partner and sponsor activities.

When Lundqvist is not in the studio or the office, he can often be found at Madison Square Garden taking in New York Rangers hockey, New York Knicks basketball, or one of the arena’s renowned musical performances. Usually, when he is in attendance, he is shown on the arena’s center-hung video board as an “NYC Celebrity” and receives a thunderous ovation from the crowd.

“The network is just part of it, but it feels great to come there,” Lundqvist said of Madison Square Garden. “Every time I go there – to see the people that I’ve known for so long – but also I love that place; I love The Garden. I think the energy [and] the variety of things that happen there is something I really appreciate. It feels really good to be a part of that.”

Sitting alongside former teammate and studio analyst Steve Valiqutte and sportscaster John Giannone, Lundqvist appears in the MSG Networks studios, located across the street from the arena, for select New York Rangers games. From the onset, he brought his allure and expertise to the set and appealed to viewers – so much so that national networks quickly began to take notice.

“I enjoy watching hockey [and] talking hockey, but the main thing to me is the team; the people that you work with,” Lundqvist said. “The guys on the panel [and the] crew behind. I really enjoy that part of it and having a lot of fun off-camera.”

One month later, Lundqvist was on his first national broadcast for the NHL on TNT where he and Bissonnette famously performed a cover of “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica that went viral on social media. It had been known that Lundqvist was a musician, famously performing on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon in his Rangers uniform to celebrate the end of the 2012-13 NHL lockout.

In fact, during his retirement ceremony, the Rangers gifted him with a custom-made guitar painted by David Gunnarsson, the same artist who used to paint Lundqvist’s goalie masks.

Aside from occasional music performances, Lundqvist brings an esoteric base of knowledge to the NHL on TNT panel as its only goaltender. Whether it be through player breakdowns, interviews, or dialogue with other analysts, Lundqvist has a perspective to which few professional hockey players can relate. There are various goaltenders among local studio panels surrounding live hockey game broadcasts, and Lundqvist is in a unique situation with MSG Networks in that he and Valiquette are both former goaltenders. Yet on Turner Sports’ national coverage, he is the only voice speaking to this different part of the game.

“It’s not a coincidence you see a lot of goalies working [on] panels and analyzing the game because that’s a huge part of playing in goal,” Lundqvist explained. “Yes, you need to stop the puck, but a huge part of being a goalie is analyzing what’s going on. We can never really dictate the play so you need to analyze what’s happening right in front of you.”

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In broadcasting at both the local and national level, Lundqvist is cognizant of the differences in each network’s studio programs. Lundqvist says appearing on the MSG Networks studio panel is more about being direct with the viewer, whereas the NHL on TNT views its panel as being conversational in nature. With Turner Sports, Lundqvist also asks his colleagues about the different teams around the league since he is most familiar with the Rangers both as a former player and studio analyst.

“I’m closer to the Rangers; I see more of what’s going on,” Lundqvist stated. “When you work [national] games, maybe you focus in on teams on the West Coast or [part] of the league you don’t see as often. You try to talk to the other guys on the panel and the crew and figure out things that are interesting about those teams.”

Hockey is a team sport, and Lundqvist felt grateful to play with his teammates and face his competitors over the years. Now as an analyst though, it is his job to analyze their games and critique them when necessary; however, he does not try to be excessively critical.

Lundqvist knows the trials and tribulations associated with the sport and can relate to scenarios many players face on a nightly basis. Therefore, he thinks about his own experience before giving an opinion, especially a critique, instantiating it with comprehensible, recondite knowledge and/or by recounting a similar situation.

“I’d much rather give them positive feedback obviously because I know it is a tough game,” Lundqvist said, “and sometimes it might look like an easy mistake, but if you can give the viewer a better explanation of why he did that, they might have a different view of that mistake.”

Now metaphorically being beyond the goalie mask, Lundqvist’s vision of the game has evidently shifted. He discerns just how intense the schedule is and the rapid pace of the game, axioms he was aware of while playing but inherently avoided thinking about. He has implemented his refined viewpoint of the game accordingly into his analysis, simultaneously utilizing the mindset and savvy he cultivated on the ice. It is, quite simply, a balancing act.

“I think people can be pretty quick to jump on guys and critique them,” Lundqvist said. “That’s where maybe you take an extra look and try to understand why it happened and give those reasons. I think that’s where it helps if you played the game [for] a long time and just love the game [because] you have a pretty good understanding of why guys react a certain way.”

The challenge tacitly embedded in the jobs of most studio analysts – Lundqvist’s included – is in presenting the information to the audience in a manner through which it learns without being confused. It is a delicate craft that takes time and genuine understanding to master, especially related to promulgating hockey analytics as Valiquette does on MSG Networks and within his company, Clear Sight Analytics.

“There’s a lot of educated viewers out there, but there’s also a lot of people that maybe don’t watch as much hockey,” Lundqvist said, “so you want to find that middle ground where you kind of educate both sides.”

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By broadcasting both locally and nationally in addition to working in a specially-designed business operations role, Lundqvist is staying around the rink in his retirement while facilitating the growth of hockey. Despite the profusion of young talent, dynamic action and jaw-dropping plays, viewership of the sport on ESPN and TNT’s linear channels has dropped 22% from last season, according to a report by Sports Business Journal.

For Lundqvist though, he does not feel much has changed from playing regarding his responsibility to advance the reach and appeal of the sport. He played professionally for 20 years, beginning his career in his home country of Sweden, primarily in the Swedish Elite League (SEL). In the 2004-05 season, his final campaign before arriving in New York City, Lundqvist had won the award for most valuable player. Furthermore, he was recognized as the best goalie and best player, leading Frölunda HC to its second Elitserien championship in three seasons.

His NHL debut came five years after he was selected in the seventh round of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft by the New York Rangers but unlike many rookies over the years, he came polished and prepared to embrace the lights of Broadway. Following an injury to starting goaltender Kevin Weekes, Lundqvist was inserted into the starting lineup and, from that moment on, virtually never came out.

By the end of his first year, he had been named to the NHL All-Rookie Team and was a Vezina Trophy finalist for best goaltender. Additionally, he remains the only goaltender to begin his NHL career with seven consecutive 30-plus win seasons.

“I think the league is doing a great job of growing the game,” Lundqvist said. “In the end, it comes down to the product and right now, it’s a great product. I feel really good about, the best way I can, to promote the game [by] talking about it, but… it feels like I’ve been doing that for 20 years.”

One means through which Lundqvist attempts to grow the game is within the studio demos he performs with the NHL on TNT, displaying different facets of the game in a technical manner. The show also embraces the characteristics of their analysts and implements them in lighthearted segments, such as zamboni races, putting competitions, Swedish lessons and, of course, musical performances.

“I’m huge on mindset and the pressure,” Lundqvist said. “I love to talk about that type of stuff and give the viewer a better understanding of what goes through their heads. In terms of personality, I don’t know if I can say [that] I’m a serious guy because I love to have fun and laugh and do fun things.”

Lundqvist thoroughly enjoys what he is doing both locally and nationally, and he ensures he surrounds himself with people he wants to be around. There are plenty of other broadcast opportunities for former hockey players, such as moving into the booth as a color commentator or between the benches as a rinkside reporter. At this moment though, he is more focused on being immersed in his current roles, performing them to the best of his ability while ensuring he allocates time to spend with friends and family.

“I see myself more as an analyst in the studio more than traveling around and being in the rink,” he said. “I think that’s another thing with the schedule; it works really well with my schedule to have one or two commitments with the networks, but then I have other things going on in my life that I commit to.”

Plenty of comparisons can be drawn between playing professional hockey and covering the sport from the studio in terms of preparation and synergy. Yet the end result is not as clearly defined since “winning” in television is quantifiably defined as generating ratings and revenue. Undoubtedly, Lundqvist is focused on doing what he can to bolster hockey’s popularity; however, he also wants to enjoy this new phase of his career being around the game he loves.

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“In sports, you win or you lose,” Lundqvist explained. “With TV, you want to be yourself [and] you want to get your point out – but at the same time, if you do it at the same time you’re having a good time, I feel like that’s good TV.”

Once their careers conclude, many athletes think about pursuing a post-playing career and oftentimes end up taking on a role in sports broadcasting. On MSG Networks alone, there are plenty of former players who take part in studio coverage on live game broadcasts, such as Martin Biron of the Buffalo Sabres, Bryce Salvador of the New Jersey Devils, and Matt Martin of the New York Islanders. At the national level, Turner Sports employs Paul Bissonnette, Anson Carter, and Wayne Gretzky for its studio broadcasts, while ESPN’s top studio crew includes Mark Messier and Chris Chelios.

All of these former professional hockey players had an obligation to regularly speak with media members, answering questions about games and the season at large. Lundqvist maintained a professional relationship with journalists and beat reporters, and he most enjoyed taking questions when the team was doing well. Regardless of what the end result of a game was though, he had a responsibility to divulge his thoughts and, in turn, be subject to criticism and/or negative feedback.

His stellar career and persona all came from emanating a passion for the game – and it continues to manifest itself beyond the television screen. Listening to those passionate about the game discuss it usually engenders euphony and lucidity to viewers, analogous to the sound of the puck hitting the pads or entering the glove. It is a timbre Lundqvist created 27,076 times throughout his NHL career (regular season and playoffs) in preventing goals, and one he now aims to explain en masse.

“The reason why I kept going to the rink and put all the hours in was because I really enjoyed it,” Lundqvist said. “If you decide to go into media or whatever it might be, I think the bottom line is [that] you have to enjoy it and make sure you have good people around you.”

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Should the NBA Nationalize Local TV Rights Like MLS?

The NBA’s upcoming rights negotiations will be this transformational idea’s first testing grounds.

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Diamond Sports has been anything but a diamond in the sports world. As subscribers leave cable and satellite for streaming services, companies are dropping RSNs nationwide because they are too expensive to carry. This has caused an impending bankruptcy for the company, which owns the local rights to dozens of sports teams nationwide. It is also putting the NBA, NHL, and MLB at major financial risk. 

In the short term, it is known that teams will still broadcast on their RSNs even if they aren’t getting the paychecks they were promised in previous rights deals. This will affect teams’ ability to pay players and could even create an unfair advantage among the haves of the sports world like the Yankees and Lakers and the have-nots. The NFL doesn’t face the same problems that the other leagues are facing because its rights have been nationalized.

With the NFL’s continued television dominance, college conferences also bundling up games together for more money, and the MLS guaranteeing themselves television revenue after packaging local and national rights together, could we see the other leagues follow suit? It is an option that is much easier said than done but it seems like we are moving closer to it becoming reality. 

The NBA’s upcoming rights negotiations will be this transformational idea’s first testing grounds.

The biggest problem the NBA and other leagues would face are that the local rights to all of its teams don’t expire at the same time. If the league were to sign a deal that included giving all local rights to a streamer, the amount which the league was getting paid would be very unique year after year. It would be crazy for a streamer to pay a huge chunk of money to the NBA all at once if the number of teams they have local rights to changes every year.

It would also be insane to pay an astronomical amount if the streamer is only getting the local rights to small-market teams like the Cavs and the Pistons. A major market team like the Lakers doesn’t renew their local rights until 2032. We’re still in 2023. How does that affect the league’s operating costs? 

The NBA would also have to figure out whether teams whose rights don’t expire yet deserve to be included in the pot of money garnered from selling local rights to a streamer. Whether they are or they aren’t, does it put each team at different competitive advantages and/or disadvantages when trying to acquire free agents or front-office personnel?

One of the most interesting puzzles to figure out is what influence a league owner like Washington’s Ted Leonsis has in this potential measure when all is said and done. Leonsis just acquired complete control of the regional sports network — currently named NBC Sports Washington — that broadcasts Wizards and Capitals games for millions of dollars, although the exact amount remains undisclosed.

What does Leonsis do with his network if his team’s games can no longer air there? Can his team opt out of participating in a potential league offering? Or if the games continue to air on his network but are simulcasted locally on the streamer that wins local rights on a national scale, does the streamer have the ability to pay less money for rights?

If so, does that make the deal as lucrative for the NBA? And what does that mean for retransmission fees that cable companies like Comcast pay to Leonsis and other RSNs they’re still carrying?

The league will face a similar problem with the Lakers, Bulls, Knicks and other franchises that either wholly own or partially own a part of the RSNs where they broadcast their games. 

I don’t have the answers to any of these questions which is why they are written here in this column. Unfortunately for the leagues, they don’t have the answers either. But if the NBA figures out a way to nationalize their product even more and make streaming games more appealing by ending local blackouts, it’ll benefit the game more than it hurts the game. 

NBA, NHL, and MLB games are still some of the highest-rated programs locally in many markets when you look at how they rate vs. other cable and broadcast offerings. But at this point, the ability to charge everyone for a program that only ten percent of subscribers are watching is a losing business proponent.

The leagues should start from scratch and sell a mass package of games for maximum profit. It gives fans a more centralized location to watch their favorite teams and puts the leagues on a much more steady path than where they could be headed sooner rather than later.

Diamond in the rough to sparkling jewel of light? Only time will tell.

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