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Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame Welcomes Class of 2022

“You look at the names that are in ahead of you and you think, ‘What am I doing on this list? Somebody made a mistake.’”

Derek Futterman

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Commentators, engineers, directors, producers, executives and other personnel from around the world in sports media gathered in New York on Tuesday night to celebrate the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame induction class of 2022.

Created by Sports Video Group, the mission of the Hall of Fame is to honor those who have made an indelible impact across the world of sports broadcasting, whether or not they are behind the microphone. In 2007, the museum inducted its first class with some of the honorees including former NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle, the founder of NFL Films Ed Sabol and legendary play-by-play announcer Howard Cosell.

Past and present inductees of the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame attended Tuesday night’s ceremony held at the New York Hilton Midtown and shared their thoughts on the event with Barrett Sports Media before the proceedings began. Chris Berman, who has worked in different capacities with ESPN since the year of the network’s launch in 1979, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2017.

“You look at the names that are in ahead of you and you think, ‘What am I doing on this list? Somebody made a mistake,’” Berman expressed. “Tonight, I will look back at not my name, but the names of the people I, if not idolized, really respected and some after me.”

Berman’s unique on-air delivery and style helped grow his career and ESPN into the sports institution it has become today. By staying true to himself and accepting that not everyone would take a liking towards him, he has been able to appeal and draw a level of respect across key demographics.

While he has been on the network for many years, Troy Aikman is a rookie – hardly so, however, in the world of sports broadcasting. Working alongside Joe Buck throughout his entire sports broadcasting career, which began in the 2001-02 season with Fox Sports, he was on hand to celebrate his partner’s achievement.

“He’s the best to do it,” Aikman told Barrett Sports Media regarding his colleague Joe Buck. “I’ve had a front row seat watching him for the last 21 years. He’s incredible and it’s well-deserved [and] long, probably, overdue based on what he’s been able to accomplish.”

Aikman’s contract with Fox Sports expired following the 2021-22 season – leading him to negotiate with various other networks to bring him in as a football analyst. Once he signed with ESPN, Buck followed him shortly thereafter to continue their partnership on Monday Night Football.

“Once he went, it was kind of a next step for me and fortunately it worked out,” Buck told Barrett Sports Media. “We’re closer now probably than we’ve ever been; our families are close and that’s a big part of a happy work life.”

“The companies are obviously a little bit different, but other than that what we do in the booth is what we’ve always done,” Aikman added. “We have the same people up there. It’s been a pretty smooth transition for him and I.”

Working with Buck and Aikman for the first time is Lisa Salters, who is the longest-tenured sideline reporter in Monday Night Football history. Although their first season together is not yet complete, she feels a connection towards the duo and was excited to be present for Buck to receive this extraordinary pillar of honor and respect in sports media.

“I feel like I’ve been working with him for the last 20 years,” Salters told Barrett Sports Media. “It’s just so cool to think that somebody that you work with is that so highly regarded, which we knew already, but it’s just really cool and I’m happy for him.”

Buck expressed gratitude towards those at Fox Sports; in fact, the company honored him with a full-page advertisement in the event program. For 28 years, he called baseball and football games for the network, including many memorable World Series and Super Bowl finishes. Although the company and primary day of the week on which he calls primetime games differs, the goal of bringing viewers an informative, compelling and entertaining broadcast remains the same.

“It’s just different, philosophically, because when you’re at a network whether it’s CBS or Fox, you can kind of ride the hot team,” he said. “We’ve known our schedule since whenever that comes out… [and it is] broken weird. Some of the games have been kind of ‘Eh,’ but I’ve loved every minute of being [at ESPN].”

Buck grew up around the industry and observed the work ethic, preparation and commentating of longtime St. Louis Cardinals broadcaster – his father and Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame member Jack Buck. Joe attended this ceremony 11 years ago to accept the honor on behalf of his father, who passed away in 2002, and while he admires his father he has tried to craft his own voice in this industry.

“Don’t get into this business trying to sound like anybody else,” Buck said. “I got in trying not to sound like my dad. I think I still kind of sound like my dad in many ways. Forge your own path; do your work and let your personality come out and see what comes of it.”

Buck made it a point to visit his father as he was ailing for seven months in a St. Louis hospital – and while they spoke about broadcasting and sports media at large, the conversations gradually turned towards personal topics, including taking advantage of every day one is alive.

“When we got to his final weeks on this earth, our conversations were not about home run calls; they weren’t about critics; they weren’t about work. They were about our family,” Buck said in his induction speech. “….It was about me living my life because as he said, ‘When you get here laying in this bed, you realize it’s too late. Have fun.’”

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Both current and incoming Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame members were on display at the 2022 Induction Ceremony Tuesday Photo Derek Futterman

Longtime sports broadcaster with ESPN and now voice of Sunday Night Football and primetime Olympics host for NBC Sports Mike Tirico was the event host, celebrating the institution’s 15th year of honoring those across the landscape of sports media. It also happened to be Tirico’s birthday and a night where many professionals he has worked with over throughout his career were being inducted into the Sports Broadcasters Hall of Fame, making the day extra special.

“Personally, it’s a very special night for me,” Tirico said. “I’m proud to call these people not only friends but colleagues…. Week-in, week-out, you know the people in this room… are the stars and the MVPs of television.”

Tirico works directly with Drew Esocoff, longtime director of Sunday Night Football on NBC, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame Tuesday night as well. For many years, Esocoff and executive producer Fred Gaudelli were a tandem that helped lead the show to an unprecedented 11 straight seasons as primetime’s most-watched television program. Gaudelli, along with longtime play-by-play announcer Al Michaels, moved over to work on the inaugural season of Amazon Prime Video’s Thursday Night Football slate of games. As a result, NBC Sports leadership elevated Rob Hyland to the role of coordinating producer and Tirico into the play-by-play chair.

“In 2000, Howard Katz and Dan Ohlmeyer gave me the opportunity of a lifetime,” Esocoff reminisced in his induction speech. “They named me the director of ABC’s Monday Night Football. I would actually be the one to call for a tape to roll and the next words you would hear would be, ‘Are you ready for some football?’. Just getting to work with the Monday Night Football crew [was] amazing, and that year marked the beginning of an amazing run.”

In addition to directing a myriad of primetime football games, Esocoff also sits in the director’s chair for NBC broadcasts of the Triple Crown. He previously worked with ESPN as the director of several NBA Finals matchups and Monday Night Football featuring Michaels, Frank Gifford and Dan Dierdorf.

Salters had the opportunity to work with Esocoff during her first season doing football sideline reporting in 2005 and was honored to be among the large contingent honoring him at the ceremony. Aside from Esocoff, there were many prominent names in sports media present for the event including CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus, Fox Sports Senior Vice President of Talent and Production Development Jacob Ullman and NBC Sports analyst Cris Collinsworth.

“You’re around sports royalty; sports broadcasting royalty anyway,” she said. “You’re just kind of starstruck – you’re just like, ‘Oh my gosh. There’s such and such. There’s such and such.’”

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was inducted into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame on Tuesday night for his leadership in the ongoing advancement of multiplatform league coverage. While he was unable to attend the ceremony in person because of league meetings taking place in Dallas, he submitted a pre-recorded message thanking those who paved the way to effectuate the league’s success.

“My predecessors – Pete Rozelle and Paul Tagliabue – gave the NFL a running head start in this business and impressed on all the importance of ensuring the game was strong and you could never be complacent,” Goodell said. “You always have to pursue innovation and excellence. Exciting, competitive games lead to appointment viewing.”

Manolo Romero, who recently retired as Olympic Broadcast Services chief, was honored with a spot in the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame thanks to his leadership in implementing new technology to present the Olympic Games to a worldwide audience. He expressed his gratitude in a pre-recorded message for the broadcasters that helped advance coverage.

“This award together with American broadcasters who shared with me their experience; their knowledge in the technical and creative fields,” Romero said in his message. “I’m indebted to all of them for their help. I think there are too many to name them here. Some of them are already in the Hall of Fame.”

Camera operator Deena Sheldon has worked in the industry for over four decades and during that time has worked many Super Bowls, Triple Crown races and Olympic Games. As a fixture on both ABC’s Monday Night Football and NBC’s Sunday Night Football, she is grateful for the professional relationships she fostered with Esocoff, Gaudelli, Madden, along with NBC Sports play-by-play announcer Bob Costas.

“My goal was to find the shot that the announcers were talking about in under three seconds or find them something interesting to talk about,” Sheldon said. “I love the sense of team in creating something together in the show behind the show on the headsets.”

Part of Sheldon’s job requires her to memorize, or at the very least quickly identify, the players, coaches and team personnel serving as a visual component in telling the story of the game. Through her work, she looks for patterns and tries to anticipate where the next big play may be located or how to best capture the shot to effectively complement the broadcasters’ evocation of imagery.

“I love what I do – all of it – except for the sleet and the downpours,” she said. “….I just love the process of getting ready and then to be able to react to the game and the intensity of a live event.”

Terry Adams was the vice president of IBC engineering for the Olympic Games at NBC and was honored to be among the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame Class of 2022. He spoke about the importance of education and making sure the progeny of the industry are able to maintain the standard set and subsequently exceed it.

“A new generation of smart and passionate individuals have begun to leave their impact on how we generate the stories that we all tell,” Adams said. “I think the future is in very good hands. SVG has always been a valuable education resource, and many of the people in this room tonight are involved in those efforts. I would challenge anyone who isn’t to make a concerted effort to do so. You may have to look hard but the opportunities are there.”

Darrell Wenhardt currently works as principal consultant at CBT West and has been in the broadcast industry for over five decades. Through his work, he has had major contributions related to design and equipment installation at major facilities hosting events such as the Olympic Games and the World Cup, and is also a critical part of the ongoing development for the new PGA Tour Digital Media Center.

As he received his place in the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame, he recognized that he worked with 36 inductees over his career and thanked them for their contributions, adding that something must have rubbed off on him.

“I’m so honored to receive this acknowledgement of my body of work, but mostly I’m humbled,” Wenhardt said. “To be chosen to stand [with] 132 past and current inductees is really quite amazing – and as I mentioned, very humbling.”

Ross Greenburg worked at ABC Sports as a non-staff, freelance employee to begin his sports broadcasting career after graduating from Brown University in 1977. While there, he learned the aspects of effective storytelling but recognized he needed to make a vertical movement in the industry. As a result, he wrote a letter to HBO resulting in his landing a job in the production department where he would help create, produce and oversee shows including Sports of the 20th Century and Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.

Over the years, he worked hard to earn the role of president of HBO Sports – during which he launched On the Record with Bob Costas and, for his work, accumulated 54 Sports Emmy Awards. Following his departure from HBO in the summer of 2011, he has worked as the president of Ross Greenburg Productions, a venture that has helped create television programming for networks including ESPN, Fox, NBC and Showtime.

“We are all incredibly lucky to be in the form of entertainment that we all love with friendships and people who are so incredibly talented,” Greenburg said during his induction speech. “The people being honored tonight and many of the people in this room have given the American and worldwide audiences many, many memories of moments in sports history that will last a lifetime.”

Rounding out the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame Class of 2022 is football studio analyst Terry Bradshaw who has spent nearly four decades on television. Prior to joining CBS Sports as a live game analyst in 1984, Bradshaw had a storied career in professional football as the quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

After working in the broadcast booth for several years, he became a studio analyst for The NFL Today and stood out among others as a captivating personality enamored with the game of football. Bradshaw’s liveliness and fervor for the game of football resulted in his being recruited by both NBC and Fox to join their coverage of the National Football League. Since 1994, he has been with Fox Sports on Fox NFL Sunday, working alongside analysts Michael Strahan, Howie Long and Jimmy Johnson, along with reporter Jay Glazer and studio host Curt Menefee.

“When I got the word, I was shocked because I had no idea of what I had done to deserve to be in the Sports Broadcasters Hall of Fame,” Bradshaw told Barrett Sports Media. “I have yet to get an answer and I don’t think I’m going to get one tonight. I’m absolutely honored.”

Working in studio coverage, Bradshaw is grateful for all of the memories he has crafted with his colleagues over the years, several which he shared during his induction speech at Tuesday night’s ceremony. He never thought he would begin to work in broadcasting and was compelled to do so when he received a note from Brent Musburger, who traveled to his home in Grand Cayman, La. in a limousine, to hand Bradshaw a note with a phone number to call.

Five days later, he looked at the note as he was clearing out his pockets to do laundry and is thankful he decided to call the number Musburger had given him – as it led to his first contract in broadcasting, starting what has turned out to be an illustrious career influencing football coverage forever.

“I live each day to its fullest. I have more fun than anybody, and I truly am so honored tonight to be inducted into this Class of 2022. This is something; I have no idea why I’m in it – but I will take it and use it to my best benefit to make more money,” Bradshaw quipped to close out his speech.

Terry Adams, Terry Bradshaw, Joe Buck, Drew Esocoff, Roger Goodell, Ross Greenburg, Manolo Romero, Deena Sheldon, Darrell Wenhardt. They are the nine inductees within the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame’s Class of 2022 – pioneers at their craft who have made monumental contributions to sports media. Their legacies will live on in sports media history as the professionals of tomorrow aspire to build careers in the industry and continue to keep the craft of storytelling alive.

BSM Writers

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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BSM Writers

Do You Have Affirmations Of Gratitude?

“We are told to be grateful for what we have and remember it could be worse. That feels like a really low bar, right?”

Jeff Caves

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Having gratitude for your life is all the rage. If you, like me, have trouble starting your day with positive affirmations and maintaining a positive outlook about your job, read on! 

We are told to be grateful for what we have and remember it could be worse. That feels like a really low bar, right? Here is another version. Try a few affirmations of gratitude instead.

“I HAVE A JOB.”

With interest rates rising, inflation increasing, and spending down; corporations are laying people off. PayPal laid off 7% of its entire workforce. Amazon let 18,000 go. Alphabet (Google) said goodbye to 12,000 jobs. Radio sales managers need to hire people like you – experienced sellers with a track record of bringing home the bacon. 

I AM A PROBLEM SOLVER.”

You solve a problem for your company when it comes to revenue. You know people, and you sell advertising better than anything they can come up with…so far. 

Yes, they are trying to replace you, but Zoom Info reports iHeart’s self-serve spot buying service,  AdBuilder, is doing under 5 million in business. You have time to solidify your value. Be happy you are the rainmaker. 

I WORK IN THE PEOPLE BUSINESS.”

Sports talk radio is the ultimate companion to millions of listeners. They aren’t robots, and your stations improve their lives by talking about what they care about 24/7. Celebrate selling access to callers, Twitter followers and FANS who go to games. You also get to work with local celebrities that everybody knows but you know best. We all need a connection to other people and want to be seen and heard. 

“I GET TO CHANGE HOW I FEEL ABOUT MYSELF.”

In this job, you determine your value, feelings about your work, and who you work with. You get to set a strategy and talk to the businesspeople you want to help and do business with. It’s like running your own business with a tremendous support staff. Try to do it independently, and you will appreciate accounting, traffic, production, and sales assistance. Those wins produce deposits in your bank account.  

I HAVE COMPETITION!”

That format competitor across the street does things differently and sometimes better than you or tries to imitate you and looks terrible. They motivate you to beat them to a new account or put a moat around your best clients so they can’t be touched. They keep you sharp and willing to try new things. Good competition schemes to take money from your station, and your management needs you to protect them. And they also provide a place for you to work one day. The FTC wants to eliminate non-competes so you can walk across the street this year.  

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Barrett Media Writers

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