The NHL is coming back to ESPN for the first time since 2004 and the network quickly answered one of the most pertinent fan questions when they announced the nostalgic ESPN National Hockey Night theme music will also return.
The sport is back, the nostalgic music is back, but what we don’t know yet is who will be covering the game broadcasts.
ESPN released a fantastic hype video announcing the NHL was returning to the Worldwide Leader. And throughout the one-minute video, much of the highlights were narrated by Gary Thorne. As ESPN celebrates the return of the NHL and their theme music, Thorne should be next.
“I’d love to talk about it with ESPN and see what direction they’re going to take with it, what the schedule is going to look like, all of that,” Thorne told Richard Deitsch of The Athletic. “But from the primary foundational question of, ‘Is that something that interests me?’ Yes, it does.”
Thorne has been humbled by the amount of people who immediately reached out, rooting for him to reunite with ESPN.
“I’m just so happy that people have remembered and have those kinds of positive memories about the time that myself and Bill and our crew were doing the games,” Thorne added to Deitsch. “It’s pretty amazing to me that after all these years that it still lives in the forefront of people’s minds, that connection with ESPN and the NHL and our broadcast.”
For the last 14 years, Thorne was the Baltimore Orioles lead play-by-play voice on MASN. He sat out the COVID-shortened season in 2020, but expected to return this year until the network made significant personnel changes.
It’s been nearly two decades since Thorne called an NHL game on ESPN, and it’s been four years since he last called a hockey game in any capacity. ESPN still employs Barry Melrose, Linda Cohn, Steve Levy and John Buccigross as the faces of its NHL coverage, so they have an infrastructure of talent on board to cover the sport. But the 72-year-old Thorne is interested and available to join the crew.
Jay Williams Tells Stephen A. Smith His Criticism Of Kyrie Irving ‘Seems Personal’
“You say I’m being sensitive and I don’t know why, but you’re the one that’s very emotional right now.”
Kyrie Irving is a lot of things. Boring is rarely one of them. Discussions of Kyrie Irving can get heated, particularly when those discussions involve Jay Williams and Stephen A. Smith of ESPN.
Williams was a guest on First Take Monday morning. He was part of a panel discussing Irving’s trade request, which ultimately ended with him as a member of the Dallas Mavericks. He and Smith butted heads
“First off, I’m not the one yelling,” he said to Smith. “You say I’m being sensitive and I don’t know why, but you’re the one that’s very emotional right now.”
That comment was met with an “Oh my God!” from Smith, who laid back while Williams told him that it seemed like Smith is considerably harder on Irving and more triggered by stories about him than about any other athlete.
Smith answered that he is always triggered. Williams, as a regular viewer of First Take, said that did not feel true. He said that it seemed like Stephen A. Smith has a personal problem with Kyrie Irving.
“You — of all people, with all the interest you have — have the nerve to sit here on national television and tell me I’m getting personal with a player?” Smith responded. “I don’t lose no sleep. I don’t lose any sleep over Kyrie Irving.”
Smith then claimed he’d to have too much to say. Jay Williams said he did too, to which Smith started saying “Just say it, Jay.”
Williams met those demands with “I’m not here for that” and “I am on your show,” as host Molly Qerim tried to bring the temperature down.
When it comes to daytime sports television, there will always be questions about how authentic the arguments really are. Last year, Jay Williams was a guest on The Jason Barrett Podcast. He admitted on that show that Smith’s discussions of Kyrie Irving are something he has seized on to create conflict when they are together.
“The way he went at Kyrie all of last year ‘Well, you know some people don’t like to come to work. Some people don’t like to be here’ and then all the sudden for him to flip and be like ‘I’m choosing Kyrie Irving for my MVP’ I’m like ‘No! No, you can’t do that!’
Whether this was co-workers genuinely butting heads, a disagreement played up for the cameras, or some combination of the two, will likely only be known by Stephen A. Smith and Jay Williams. Plenty of their sports media colleagues took notice though.
FOX Sells Out Super Bowl Ad Time
Some advertisements were sold for more than $7 million, while the average price slotted between $6 and $7 million.
FOX Sports has reportedly sold out its allotment of Super Bowl ads, with some fetching $7 million for a 30-second spot.
According to a report from Deadline, the average price per ad was between $6 and $7 million, per FOX Sports Executive Vice President of Ad Sales Mark Evans.
Evans also told Deadline the ad slots for the event sold out two weeks ago. Volatility with some advertisers — like cryptocurrency brand FTX — and economic conditions were listed as reasons for why it took until three weeks before the event to sell out.
“As things have now settled down a bit and people feel better about the economic trajectory, a few of those units that were available picked up in earnest,” Evans said.
FOX claimed in September it had sold 95% of its available ad space for television’s largest event.
The $7 million price-tag for a 30-second commercial is in line with what first-time Super Bowl ad buyers paid for in 2022 when the event aired on NBC. That network’s reported asking price for commercials was between $5.8 and $6.2 million, with 40 advertisers joining the fray for Super Bowl LVI.
Kevin Harvick Joining NASCAR on FOX Booth in 2024
“Getting the chance to step into the booth with Mike and Clint in 2024 is an honor.”
NASCAR driver Kevin Harvick is retiring from the sport after the 2023 season, but he won’t be leaving completely. Sunday, Harvick announced he’ll join the NASCAR on FOX booth next season.
Harvick will join Mike Joy and former teammate Clint Bowyer for FOX’s portion of the NASCAR schedule.
“I’m really looking forward to working with the FOX NASCAR team full-time,” Harvick said. “I’ve enjoyed the experience in the booth the last several years because it has given me valuable insight into what being in the booth is all about. Getting the chance to step into the booth with Mike and Clint in 2024 is an honor and a great way to stay connected to the sport and NASCAR fans.”
Harvick has been a regular contributor to the network’s coverage of NASCAR’s lower series’ — the Craftsman Truck Series and the Xfinity Series — since 2015. He’ll make appearances in the FOX booth for select races in both of those series’ telecasts during the 2023 season in preparation for his full-time role in 2024.
“I can’t overstate how thrilled we are for Kevin to be an official member of the FOX Sports family,” FOX Sports President of Productions and Executive Producer Brad Zager said. “This is a marriage eight years in the making — since he first stepped into our NASCAR Xfinity Series booth with more presence and poise than most newcomers dream of. It has been fun to watch Kevin learn the TV ropes, and we cannot wait to hear him, Mike (Joy) and Clint (Bowyer) call their first race together.”
Harvick has raced in NASCAR’s top series since 2001, having the unenviable task of replacing legend Dale Earnhardt after his death during the 2001 Daytona 500.
The 47-year-old Harvick has won 60 races during his career. He won all four of what would be considered NASCAR’s “crown jewel events”, the Daytona 500 (once), the Coca-Cola 600 (twice), the Southern 500 (twice), and the Brickyard 400 (three times). He also took home the 2014 NASCAR Cup Series Championship, in addition to two Xfinity Series Championships.