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MSG Networks Pairing of Sam Rosen, Joe Micheletti Is Music to Rangers Fans Ears

“Mistakes are not acceptable. Not that anybody is standing there and hitting you over the head if you make a mistake, but you have to strive for perfection. You want to bring the best out of yourself and to the broadcast, and I think that’s always been the case.”

Derek Futterman

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The location a hockey broadcast is called from can have an effect on the way the game is presented and subsequently understood by viewers. Newer arenas around the NHL have had a focus on creating premium seating options to increase ticket sales and revenue, putting some broadcast teams at a disadvantage. Perched high above the ice on the Chase Bridge at Madison Square Garden, Sam Rosen and Joe Micheletti broadcast New York Rangers hockey on MSG Networks to millions of fans around the world.

Their broadcast booth is situated adjacent to other broadcast locations for home and visiting networks on television and radio and is suspended approximately 50 feet above the playing surface. The Chase Bridge, which runs parallel to the upper level, was created as part of a $1 billion transformation of “The World’s Most Famous Arena” completed in 2014. Most of the bridge’s south side is reserved for members of the media, giving them arguably the best view of the game whether it be basketball or hockey and enabling them to do their jobs well.

“We may have, arguably, the best broadcast location in the league,” Rosen said. “….Our location at The Garden has been moved in. It’s at a good level where you can see the game, see plays develop and feel the game.”

Being able to have clear sightlines of the game is important for both Rosen and Micheletti, both of whom prefer to call games in person rather than off of a monitor. Before the creation of the Chase Bridge, MSG Networks’ broadcast location was in the very back of the arena’s upper level, sometimes making it difficult to see the action and identify the players.

“The old position at the Garden used to be one of the worst because we were way back, high [up] and [did] not [have] good sightlines,” Micheletti said. “That was more difficult and even then I still wouldn’t watch [the game] off the monitor.”

Rosen and Micheletti are in the midst of their 17th season calling New York Rangers games together and have not just become one of the most prominent broadcast duos in the National Hockey League, but in all of professional sports. From their first broadcast together in the 2006-07 season to the present day, they have fostered chemistry and enthralled sports fans, helping spread the appeal of hockey to the masses.

That first broadcast, however, was not the first time Rosen and Michletti shared the booth – as the duo had previous experience calling games together as the secondary team for the NHL on FOX, national coverage of the league that lasted five seasons spanning from 1994 to 1999.

Their previous experience eliminated most of the difficulties that may have otherwise presented themselves due to John Davidson’s departure after 20 years working with Rosen. In essence, it allowed Rosen and Micheletti to be able to maintain the high standards that came with broadcasting games in the media capital of the world, doubling down on presenting a network-type product.

“We have always strived to present the highest-quality broadcast,” Rosen said. “Mistakes are not acceptable. Not that anybody is standing there and hitting you over the head if you make a mistake, but you have to strive for perfection. You want to bring the best out of yourself and to the broadcast, and I think that’s always been the case.”

“It’s like being in a top organization where you expect to win,” Micheletti added. “They do things right; they treat people right; and they provide whatever you need to be successful.”

From a young age, Sam Rosen was infatuated with sports and all they had to offer, listening to radio broadcasts and playing on the streets surrounding the Borough Park neighborhood in Brooklyn. Rosen had been born in 1947 in Ulm, Germany and immigrated to the United States with his parents and brother Stephen two years later.

By the time he was attending Stuyvesant High School, he was not only the captain of the baseball team, but also a track and field athlete and intramural basketball player. If you could not find him at school or around his neighborhood, the next best place to look would have been Madison Square Garden – but not the current structure (Madison Square Garden IV) above the metropolitan transportation hub, Pennsylvania Station, that houses the New York Rangers and New York Knicks.

Madison Square Garden III sat within the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood in Manhattan and was the home of the Rangers for the team’s first 41 years of existence. As a high school student, Rosen and his friends received general organization cards which allowed them to receive discounts around New York City, including for tickets at the arena.

At the time, hockey was generally played on Wednesdays and Sundays – and Rosen and his friends would make sure to board the subway train to arrive at the venue by 4:30 p.m. They wanted to make sure they would be the first ones inside so they could grab the best general admission seating and devised strategies based on which locations would allow them to see the complete sheet of ice.

“The doors would open and we would race up the stairs at the Garden to try to get to either the first two rows of the side balcony because then you could see the entire ice,” Rosen recalled. “Further up, you missed the near side of the ice. Or we went to the end balcony where you could see the entire game but one side was farther down; the other side away from you was pretty far away.”

Rosen has never been able to ice skate without holding on to another person or an object but even so, he found himself attracted to the game of hockey more so than other sports because of its speed and physicality. The unpredictable nature of athletic competition in particular drew him to want to build a career in sports media and is a motivating factor that eliminates the mundane of the long season and sustains his nascent enthusiasm for each and every game.

“You never know when you’re going to see the next great goal; the next great save in hockey; [or] the next great player,” Rosen said. “….You never know when that next great moment is going to happen and that’s what makes live sports as compelling as they are.”

Once he began matriculating at City College of New York, Rosen’s parents wanted him to study to work in a job typically associated with high stature, such as practicing law or working as a doctor or accountant. Yet he realized the subjects and topics within those professions were not of strong appeal to him in his early college years; therefore, he decided to pursue broadcasting by majoring in speech and minoring in journalism. On the side, he was taking weekly classes focused on television production at Brooklyn College where he would rotate studio roles with other students to learn the fundamentals of the industry.

Following the fall semester of his sophomore year, Rosen landed a part-time job as a desk assistant at the all-news station 1010 WINS where he would work with reporters, edit tape and observe how professionals did their jobs both in and out of the newsroom. It was during this time that Rosen met Jim Gordon, a broadcaster who worked a shift at the station by day and worked as a sportscaster by night for various New York teams, including the Knicks, Rangers – and as one of the original television voices of the Islanders on WOR.

Gordon, who Rosen affirms helped him the most throughout the early stages of his career, listened to his tapes and, through inculcation, offered feedback and pointers so he could improve at the craft. Eventually, Gordon hired Rosen to work as his statistician for New York Knicks radio broadcasts beginning in the 1969-70 season and helped him learn more about the industry. Rosen also continued to work in news for WNAB-AM in Bridgeport, giving him additional exposure into media and simultaneously expanding his skillset across different formats.

By 1971, Rosen was continuing working in both radio and television as a news broadcaster on WICC-AM in Bridgeport and weekend sports anchor on WTNH-TV in nearby New Haven. Two years later, he joined the United Press International Radio Network as an on-site reporter, covering sporting events from the venues at which they occurred. Most of Rosen’s responsibilities in that job took place before and after the event leaving him a large gap of time just to watch the game.

Since he aspired to be a sportscaster though, Rosen would use that time to practice his broadcasting skills and effectively compiled a demo reel. In fact, he was promoted to work as the radio network’s sports director in 1979 and reported with his colleague and future ESPN SportsCenter anchor Keith Olbermann from the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, NY at the iconic “Miracle on Ice” game where the U.S. Olympic ice hockey team defeated the Soviet Union en route to a gold medal finish.

“I would just go off to a quiet area; a lowly area in the press box, and I would do play-by-play for a period – whether it was hockey that I was covering or basketball,” Rosen said. “Whatever that was going on at the Garden, I would do that and use that. Jim Gordon being my mentor – he was a guy that would listen to my tapes and give me tips on what I needed to do to improve. That was basically my practice work – by being around professional sports, that was a positive.”

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Sam Rosen has worked as the lead play by play announcer for MSG Networks since 1984 Photo MSG Networks

Early in his career, Rosen was trying to make connections around sports media and was doing so through his time covering games at Madison Square Garden. Similarly, he was remaining open to external opportunities, including learning about new sports for which he could provide commentary. One of the media executives Rosen had been trying to connect with during his formative years in the industry was Scotty Connell, who had been with NBC Sports. As if it were by chance, Rosen received a call from him one day after covering the U.S. Open Tennis tournament and they spoke about him joining a new all-sports network known as ESPN.

ESPN acquired the rights to NCAA college football games on tape delay and Rosen contributed to the broadcast as its play-by-play announcer. One of his earliest memories working in this capacity was in calling the Whitney Young benefit game between the Grambling State Tigers and Morgan State Bears from Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. Over his time at ESPN, Rosen went on to call a variety of different sports, including women’s field hockey, Australian rules football and table tennis despite not being familiar with some of them from the onset.

“One day, [Connell] asked me, ‘Is there anything you can’t do?,’ and I said, ‘Maybe, but if there is, I’ll find out how to do it,’” Rosen said. “Basically what I said to him was, ‘You know what? I’ll find out the nuts and bolts; the basics; the fundamentals; and I’ll be able to do the broadcast for you.’ That’s always been my philosophy and I think that helped me because you never know what comes along.”

By remaining versatile and staying ready for each new opportunity, Rosen became even more indispensable to his employers. In February 1977, Jim Gordon was supposed to fill in for Marv Albert to call a New York Knicks game against the rival New York Nets on the radio. However, Gordon fell ill. As a result, Gordon was asked by management if he could recommend another broadcaster to do the game, helping Sam Rosen land the opportunity. From that day on, Rosen officially became a part-time broadcaster for MSG Networks and took a similar approach to what he brought to ESPN.

“I did tennis at the Garden; I did volleyball at the Garden; [I did] boxing for the Garden for over 10 years,” Rosen said. “Whatever it is, I made sure that I could do it, do it well [and] know the sport – and whatever I didn’t know, I tried to learn from the people who did know.”

In 1982, Rosen was hired full-time by MSG Networks as the studio host for New York Rangers telecasts, providing pregame, intermission and postgame coverage with Mike Eruizione and, during the 1983-84 season, John Davidson. Today, John Giannone works in that role and he is regularly joined by analyst and former NHL goaltender Steven Valiquette.

Furthermore, New York Rangers legend and winningest goaltender in franchise history Henrik Lundqvist contributes to the broadcast as a studio analyst during select games while also working in a business operations role at MSG Sports and MSG Entertainment.

“I think they try to get… more expertise involved [and] different viewpoints involved, whether it’s former players who are a little older; some who are a little younger and recently retired; some coaches,” Rosen said. “I think you’re seeing more people to open up discussion [and] have more viewpoints during the course of the broadcast.”

While Rosen was working in the studio and filling in as a play-by-play announcer on the radio as needed, his mentor Jim Gordon was the voice of the Rangers on MSG Network. Gordon worked alongside color commentator and Hockey Hall of Fame member Phil Esposito beginning in the 1981-82 season after a previous stint with former NHL referee Bill Chadwick.

By the end of the 1983-84 season though, MSG Networks wanted to make a change and decided to give Rosen the opportunity to step into the lead play-by-play role. It was the realization of a lifelong dream for him, but the decision to accept the job was genuinely complicated because of his relationship and respect for Gordon.

“You look at it and realize it’s a difficult position to be in,” Rosen explained, “yet the decision was out of my hands and certainly for me and for my future, this was the best thing that had happened for me and the opportunity was the greatest thing that had come my way.”

From the time he landed the job, Rosen aimed to hone his craft and develop chemistry with Esposito, his on-air partner for the first two seasons. During those years, the Rangers were looking to sustain its championship-caliber organization after the team was defeated in the 1979 Stanley Cup Finals by the Montréal Canadiens. Throughout many games, players and fans alike were subjected to chants of “1940” by visiting fanbases, referring to the last time the Rangers had won a Stanley Cup championship.

For seven of Rosen’s first nine seasons as the lead play-by-play announcer, the team made the playoffs but failed to reach the Stanley Cup Finals. An essential piece of the 1979-80 Rangers was its goaltender John Davidson and he went on to retire from the sport three years later at the age of 30 due to a variety of injuries he sustained over his career.

When Esposito left the Rangers broadcast booth to become the general manager of the team, Davidson was selected to take over the role. Rosen has a profound amount of respect for Davidson, calling him the “gold standard” of color commentators in sports history, as he pushed him to expand his knowledge about the game of hockey and strive for excellence.

“I used to think that I had a strong work ethic,” Rosen said. “When I watched John’s work ethic, I realized I had to raise mine by at least 50%, if not more, just to keep up with him.”

Over his broadcast career, Davidson worked as a color commentator for games both locally and nationally; in fact, he and Mike “Doc” Emrick were the lead broadcast team for the NHL on FOX, calling various Stanley Cup Finals together. Once FOX lost the NHL rights in 1999, Davidson continued working nationally for the NHL on ABC and later the NHL on NBC before he was hired as president of the St. Louis Blues in June 2006.

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Sam Rosen teamed with former Rangers goalie John Davidson on MSG Networks for nearly two decades Photo MSG Networks

“You hired John Davidson because he was a great combination of personality, fun to be around, able to laugh and have enjoyment – yet he was able to relate what was going on on the ice at any level to the fan who didn’t know much about hockey to the experts of the game,” Rosen said. “He had a great rapport with the executives in the sport; the players in the sport; management – at all levels, he had this brilliant rapport and was able to transmit that over the air.”

Before the Stanley Cup Finals were broadcast nationally by FOX starting in 1995, hockey’s championship series had not been televised on network television since 1975. Because of this, it was difficult for hockey fans to watch these crucial games – and the impetus for the creation of NHL Network in 1976, which presented the Finals for the next four seasons.

From 1981 to 1994, Stanley Cup Finals games were broadcast on cable television on channels including USA Network, ESPN, and SportsChannel America. Despite the invigorating, fast-paced action though, hockey was struggling to compete with other sports at the national level, leading local networks to carry the Stanley Cup Finals to serve its psychographic sects of the marketplace.

Rosen and Davidson worked on MSG Networks as the local television broadcast team during the 1993-94 Stanley Cup Finals between the Vancouver Canucks and New York Rangers, a back-and-forth battle that went to the brink. As the seconds ticked off the clock in Game 7, it became apparent that the Blueshirts would snap their championship drought, which had reached 53 seasons (54 years) – and do it on home ice no less.

The sellout crowd at “The World’s Most Famous Arena” began to celebrate and burst in elation when the final horn sounded, leading Rosen to exclaim to millions watching in the New York metropolitan area: “The waiting is over! The New York Rangers are the Stanley Cup Champions – and this one will last a lifetime!”

Rosen did not compose the words in advance; rather, they came out in the moment amid a pressure-filled Game 7 environment at Madison Square Garden. The fact that he was able to encapsulate and put a script to an indelible moment in New York sports history speaks to his ability to thrive in pressure-filled situations.

Most New York Rangers fans can recite his words by memory, underscoring the power the moment still garners to this day and the moment when, perhaps, Rosen became the poet laureate of the team making arguably the most eminent call in franchise history.

“It had taken so long for the Rangers and there [had] been so many heartbreaks but here it was – this moment where they reached the pinnacle of success and it was perfect,” Rosen said. “….Just to see that [and] to feel it, it just is a moment that at times is unbelievable. It was great and just the singular greatest moment that I’ve had.”

In the years following the Stanley Cup Championship, Rosen continued calling Rangers games with Davidson as the team welcomed new players in its quest to capture another championship. In 1996, Rosen added a role as a play-by-play announcer for the NFL on FOX, demonstrating his versatility in balancing hockey and football roles – although he had previously called preseason football for the New York Jets and New York Giants in the early 1980s.

In that same year, Rosen began calling Stanley Cup Finals nationally for the NHL Radio Network distributed by Westwood One until the operation temporarily ceased in 2008. He worked with various color commentators over that time including Gary Green, Bill Clement and Eddie Olczyk, and his announcing style effectively carried over from television to radio.

Today, Rosen remains dedicated to his job, preparing for each game several days in advance and amassing as much information as possible to be able to convey the story taking place on the ice. He does it all for the benefit of Rangers fans, who hold high expectations for the athletes that call “The Big Apple” home from the moment they arrive on the scene. In this sense, Rosen is not only tasked with putting words to the action, but also serving as a journalist and enterprising stories he can reference or tell on the air.

“For me to help fans understand who these players are, where they’ve come from, how they’ve reached this point and what they’re trying to accomplish is part of my job and part of my role as a play-by-play announcer because I’m around the team most every day,” he said. “I’m able to see these guys and see them off the ice and on the ice. Whatever I can transmit to the fans, I think, is helpful and humanizes these players.”

His longtime partner John Davidson, though, has worked as a hockey executive since leaving the broadcast booth following the 2005-06 season, currently serving as the President of Hockey Operations and alternate governor of the Columbus Blue Jackets. As a result of his departure, MSG Networks needed to add a new color commentator who was capable of maintaining the standard set by Rosen and Davidson. Joe Micheletti has turned out to be the perfect fit.

“It wasn’t a matter of, ‘Oh, I’ve got to get to know this guy’ and ‘What is he like?,’” Rosen explained. “No – we already knew each other; we worked together in big games on FOX – playoff games – [so] it was an easy transition from John to Joe.”

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Joe Micheletti has worked with Sam Rosen to form one of the best local broadcast crews in the NHL since 2006 Photo MSG Networks

Joe Micheletti retired from hockey after representing the United States in the 1982 Ice Hockey World Championship tournament in Helsinki, Finland. Originally from Hibbing, Minn., Micheletti grew up around the game and attended the University of Minnesota where he played under Herb Brooks, the head coach of the U.S. Olympic Team during its gold medal run in 1980. 

Although he was drafted by the Montréal Canadiens in the 1974 NHL Entry Draft, Micheletti opted to play in the World Hockey Association. Beginning in 1979, he moved to the National Hockey League where he played for the St. Louis Blues and ended his career with a brief stint on the Colorado Rockies in 1982 – who would subsequently become the New Jersey Devils at the start of the next season.

Once Micheletti retired, he began working in the investment business and one day, received a call from St. Louis Blues broadcaster Dan Kelly. While Kelly opened an account with Micheletti, he also implored him to join him as a color commentator for games on KMOX-AM for the upcoming season, telling him it would be a good way to get back in the game and help his business.

In the 1980s, St. Louis, Mo. had many broadcasters who reached national prominence, including Jack Buck, Bob Costas, Dan Dierdorf and Jay Randolph Jr. Dan Kelly was in this category as well, as he also broadcast hockey games nationally for outlets such as USA Network, CBS and NHL Network – and the fact that he was asking Micheletti to join the radio broadcasts was completely unexpected. After taking some time to think about the opportunity, he agreed to take the job and began his broadcasting career “by accident.”

“At that time, and I didn’t have any experience nor did I necessarily have a want to get in that business, we were fortunate to have these great broadcasters and people,” Micheletti said. “They always made it sound like they show up and have a conversation with you which was the biggest mistake I made thinking that’s all they did.”

Kelly was a pundit when it came to sports broadcasting and sought to help Micheletti learn the industry, which sometimes came from being a tough critic. All of his assessments of Micheletti’s work, though, were intended to help grow the broadcast and help his partner improve as a color commentator so he could display his esoteric knowledge of the sport.

“‘Be a pro and remember there’s always two teams on the ice,’” Micheletti recalls Kelly telling him. “‘There’s always another team and other teams have great players and other teams make great plays. Keep that in mind and be fair.’ I learned that early from Dan and I think even though… fans just want you to be focused on their team, I think that I’ve always felt – and that’s through Dan who was one of the great broadcasters this sport has ever had and seen – to be professional.”

After two seasons working on radio with Kelly, Micheletti moved behind the bench to serve as an assistant coach with the St. Louis Blues – and helped guide the team during its run of 25 straight playoff appearances. He then signed on work as a color commentator for the Minnesota North Stars in 1991 on television, pairing with play-by-play announcer Dave Hodge – the longtime lead announcer of Hockey Night in Canada from 1971 to 1987. They were joined by former Hockey Night in Canada executive producer and sportscaster John Shannon, who ran the nearly 55 televised broadcasts.

“This was something new in broadcasting that I hadn’t done much of – which was television [and it] was totally different than radio,” Micheletti said. “I was looking at this as, ‘Boy, this is all brand new and now I’ve got a chance to learn from one of the great producers in hockey and I get to… learn it from Dave Hodge.’ It was so new to me and I was trying to learn how to be accepted in the business.”

Micheletti returned to the St. Louis Blues as a color commentator for its television broadcasts, pairing with JP Dellacamera beginning in 1993. At the same time, he continued working for the regional firm A.G. Edwards and received a call one day during work from someone claiming to work at Turner Network Television (TNT). Thinking that he was being deceived, Micheletti hung up the phone – but shortly thereafter, the person called back and immediately urged him to stay on the line.

It turned out that Micheletti’s work had been noticed from afar, leading him to be asked to broadcast the 1994 Winter Olympics from Lillehammer, Norway. Joining Micheletti as the play-by-play announcer was Jiggs McDonald, who was primarily broadcasting New York Islanders games locally on SportsChannel New York. The experience of landing the job was memorable for Micheletti, but determining how to prepare for an assignment of this magnitude initially confounded him.

In an effort to learn about the international players, Micheletti used his connections to compile a list of hockey contacts from countries including Norway, Sweden, and the Czech Republic. He would then set his alarm on the road to wake up at 2 a.m. in order to make calls to gather information and insight about the international game.

“I looked at it as the biggest challenge that I’ve ever had and it turned out to be that way but it turned out to be the most satisfying,” Micheletti expressed. “….I always thought the Olympics was the biggest challenge because of the restrictions you have in talking to people.”

Once he concluded that assignment, Micheletti began receiving calls from other national networks and went on to work four additional Olympic Games with CBS (1998) and NBC Sports (2002, 2006, 2010). Additionally, he worked as a color commentator with Sam Rosen on the NHL on FOX and was both in the booth and in-between the benches for the NHL on NBC. For the last seven seasons, he has been the color commentator for NHL Radio’s coverage of the Stanley Cup Finals, currently syndicated by Sports USA Media.

Prior to the 1998-99 season, Micheletti made a difficult decision to move from St. Louis to New York to work with Howie Rose as the color commentator for New York Islanders games on Fox Sports Net New York. Micheletti took over duties for Ed Westfall, the first team captain in franchise history who had been broadcasting Islanders games for 19 seasons – largely with Jiggs McDonald. Three years earlier, Rose entered the play-by-play role for the team due to McDonald’s departure to call games for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“It really was great because I’ve always viewed this as no different than playing for a team [in] that I’m only just a part of it,” Micheletti said. Everybody’s got a job and everybody should try to get along and work hard and support each other. We really had that with the Islanders.”

In the early years of Micheletti’s tenure with the Islanders, the team was consistently finishing last in the Atlantic Division, making it difficult for some people to stay engaged with the game and the team at large. By the 2001-02 season, the Islanders, led by Alexei Yashin, Mark Parrish and Rick DiPietro, began to qualify for the playoffs but lost in the quarterfinals for three consecutive seasons.

Through these years, Micheletti and Rose worked with producer Kevin Meininger and director Larry Roth, both of whom are involved with New York Rangers broadcasts on the network today. Together with the rest of the broadcast team, they were able to present a product they could be proud of.

“It was tough because they were going through a lot of growing pains,” Micheletti said. “We had to really work to try and make the broadcast interesting and worthwhile while the team was going through their transition. I look back on those days very fondly working with Howie and that group.”

Once John Davidson left sports media to work for the St. Louis Blues in 2006, Micheletti transitioned from calling games on Long Island to doing so in Manhattan. He recalls being eager for the chance to work with Rosen on a local basis when the offer was made to him and was confident in his own knowledge and expertise to engender a seamless transition.

“I always had great respect for J.D. and what he did and I knew that he was such a staple with Sam and with the Rangers and that he had played there [along with] his status in the industry [and] how beloved he was in New York,” Micheletti said. “You either had to ask yourself, ‘No I don’t want to take that challenge because it’s hard to win,’ or you just… said, ‘Absolutely, I’ll do that.’”

Micheletti was familiar with the marketplace since he had been broadcasting Islanders games – but the situation differed from his last move in that he was stepping into a broadcast booth that had been together for 19 seasons (20 years). Nonetheless, he sought to be himself and take stock in what made him unique and appealing to viewers both locally and nationally.

“I know there’s always comparisons,” Micheletti explained. “I just said to myself, ‘You know what? I’m going to be myself. I’m not going to try to be him. I’m not going to try and fill shoes. I’ll leave the shoes over there and go to work and figure it out and deal with whatever I have to deal with.’”

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MSG Networks announcers Sam Rosen and Joe Micheletti believe they have one of the finest views in the NHL at Madison Square Garden Photo Derek Futterman

The landscape of sports media has experienced seismic changes since Rosen and Micheletti began working together, specifically in the means of distribution. Today, Rangers fans can watch the game over cable television, by streaming on various platforms or by watching through the MSG App, and there are surely more innovations to come as technology and consumption habits continue to shift. Yet the broadcast itself has stayed relatively consistent sans cosmetic changes, such as alterations in production music and graphics packages, and the addition of content related to sports betting and “wagertainment.”

“I think our approach to the game has been pretty similar and the same for a long time,” Micheletti said. “We’re not tired of doing what we’re doing and we try to have some fun and try to be prepared to do it.”

“From a personal standpoint, I don’t think that I’ve changed much at all,” Rosen added. “My personal approach has always been to try to transmit the excitement of being at the game; of seeing the greatest players in the world; and just some of them, the best that ever lived.”

Both Rosen and Micheletti make it a point to attend morning skate and attempt to talk to the coaches of both teams so they can ask questions about the current state of events. Before this though, they read as much as they can about the opponent and create notes to use during the game – even though much of their commentary comes from naturally reacting to gameplay on the ice.

“Sometimes you don’t need any of the notes that you’re taking because the game is so interesting and there’s things going on [that are] maybe the unexpected events of the game,” Micheletti said. “I’ve always felt [to] make sure you let the game breathe and don’t try to use your briefcase and your notes [to] dictate what you say. Let the game dictate that.”

In order to remind himself of the key components of his job as a color commentator, Micheletti carries a sheet of paper with him in the booth for each broadcast containing reminders. One of the points at the top of his list simply reads, ‘Why?,’ prompting him to consider the reasons for something happening. Another point on his list says ‘Behind the play’ to alert him to watch the action off the puck, as it can be a determinant for concurrent occurrences and supplements Rosen’s description of the game. He has been doing it for the last 17 years as the color commentator for Rangers games and does not figure to stop the practice any time soon.

“When the puck is at the point, I try to watch in front of the net; see who’s doing what and watch the benches,” Micheletti said. “I keep the puck off to the side and I’m trying to watch everything else that’s going on [down] on the ice which the play-by-play guy can’t do. He’s got to focus on where the puck is and who’s doing what. Part of my job is to find things that happen in just watching a game that maybe people don’t see that I can point out.”

As a former assistant coach and professional player, Micheletti knows the importance of being adaptable and collaborative within a team setting. Rosen and Micheletti are parts of the broadcast paradigm, and it takes a cohesive synergy and respect for everyone’s role to steadily augment the end result and consistently raise the bar.

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Madison Square Garden is often a sense of pride for Sam Rosen and Joe Micheletti for MSG Networks Photo Derek Futterman

“When you’re with really qualified people that know the business, then to me it’s easy to have a discussion about being better; improving; helping somebody; whatever it might be,” MIcheletti said. “….It’s just like anything else – when you’re with somebody that thinks they have all the answers for everything, that generally doesn’t work. It doesn’t work with me; it doesn’t work with most people that want the team and the group to have success.”

Rosen is in his 38th season and 39th year as the play-by-play voice of the New York Rangers, and continues to bring fans countless numbers of memorable moments including power play goals by Artemi Panarin; highlight-reel saves by Igor Shesterkin; and shrewd defensive plays made by Adam Fox.

“I think that I’ve been able to show the people at Madison Square Garden and the people who I’ve worked alongside with and certainly the fans that I’ve been able to serve and work for and bring my style to how important this job was to me and how important it was to treat it as significant as it was,” Rosen said. “Sometimes words can’t adequately describe how much this job has meant to me and how much I value its importance in entertainment; in television; and to the people who are out there watching and listening.”

Rosen was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as the recipient of the 2016 Foster Hewitt Memorial Award for outstanding achievements as a hockey broadcaster. Traveling to Toronto, Ontario with his family to see the plaque was an emotional moment for Rosen – indicative of his journey and the strong expectations he placed onto himself.

“The Hall of Fame to me was always about the players,” Rosen articulated. “You think about players – the greatest players of the game – watching them play and then being honored and inducted into the Hall of Fame. For the people in this sport – in hockey – to say you are going to be remembered for all time as one of the best is just an honor that is hard to describe.”

While there has been some speculation over the years regarding when Rosen may retire, he feels he is in a good place and looks to continue calling Rangers games for the years ahead. He cannot pinpoint an exact date as to when his career may end; however, he has advised his family to watch his broadcasts and make him aware if it looks like he is hanging on or losing his ability to be informative and entertaining to the viewers.

“I love what I do and I think as long as I’m healthy and as long as I still can bring that same enthusiasm to the broadcast, I would like to keep doing it,” Rosen said. “Certainly there will reach a point where it’s time to step aside and let the next person take over, [but] I love what I do and that doesn’t change whatsoever.”

Micheletti did not receive a formal education in broadcasting; rather, he learned by working in the business after playing and coaching. Fortunately, he has worked alongside adept broadcasters over the years, including Dan Kelly, Ken Wilson, John Forslund, Mike “Doc” Emrick, Jiggs McDonald, Kenny Albert, Howie Rose and, of course, Sam Rosen.

“With Sam, I want to make sure that I don’t interrupt his call because it’s been so good for so many years and still is,” Micheletti said. “….When you get a chance to work with somebody like Sam, you pinch yourself and I still do. I’ve been so fortunate in my career because I got to start with a Hall of Famer and I’m hoping I finish with a Hall of Famer.”

Younger broadcasters, including Brendan Burke and Bill Spaulding with the New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils on MSG Networks, respectively, exude a passion for the game that pervades itself towards the viewing audience. Sports, in essence, are a form of entertainment and excitement – characteristics of which Rosen remains keenly aware – and his portrayal of the event has led him to be thanked on the street by fans. It keeps him cognizant of the impact the broadcasts have in the New York marketplace, penetrating beyond the bounds of the “Rangerstown” community, and further motivates him to be his best each day.

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Michelle Gingras serves as MSG Networks rinkside reporter during Rangers broadcasts Photo MSG Networks

“The fans are passionate,” Rosen said. “You hear it every night at the Garden [and] you see it wherever we go around the league…. I hope that any young broadcaster coming along understands that and appreciates the good fortune that they have to be at these games and to see these great athletes that they’re seeing on a game-by-game basis.”

Even though he has been involved in media for nearly six decades, Rosen keeps up with industry trends and tries to tailor the broadcast to the fans. With the advent of social media and the instant dissemination of information, presenting unrealized perspectives and storylines evinces the responsibilities associated with a beat reporter. Rosen is regularly around the team; the difference in his role from that of a beat reporter is that he publishes his “story” during the game and reports before and after to enrich it in the moment.

During the game, rinkside reporter Michelle Gingras contributes her storylines to the broadcast and interviews players in-between periods and after the game, affording Rosen and Micheletti a chance to see what is going on five floors below them on the event level.

“There’s a constant flow; a constant stream of information out there,” Rosen explained. “[In] my role, what’s changed is not only do I need to provide information that some people may not have known, but also to relate to the players’ approach to things.”

One aspect of broadcasting hockey that he hopes is prioritized though is accommodating the networks and broadcasters to give them the ability to effectively call the game. Part of that comes from the location in each arena from which they are working and Rosen considers himself lucky to have a great sightline at Madison Square Garden.

Moreover, he enjoys broadcasting games at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto; Rogers Arena in Vancouver; and especially from the press gondola at Bell Centre in Montréal. Conversely, the broadcast locations in other arenas, including Prudential Center in Newark; UBS Arena in Elmont, N.Y.; Rogers Place in Edmonton; and T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas are high up and pulled back away from the ice, making them less than ideal.

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MSG Networks announcer Sam Rosen pointed out four NHL arenas that are more difficult to broadcast from in clockwise order the home of the Devils Golden Knights Maple Leafs and Islanders Photos Derek Futterman

“We are a ticket-driven sport and they build those suites and they make a lot of money for the individual teams – I understand that,” Rosen said. “….The league has always said to the broadcasters, ‘We need you to call a great game; we need you to be enthusiastic about our sport,’” Rosen expressed. “Well, sometimes it would be great if the league could somehow use its influence a little bit to give us help to make it a little bit easier for us to do the job that they would like to see us do.”

Regardless of the location of the broadcast booth, though, the on-air duo of Rosen and Micheletti is unmistakably distinct and audibly representative of a sound associated with New York Rangers hockey. Whether it is Rosen expressing, “It’s a power play goal!” over the custom-made goal song “Slapshot;” welcoming viewers back from the intermission by saying, “New York Rangers hockey on MSG Network is presented by Chase;” Micheletti breaking down the opponent in the broadcast open; or the duo exchanging answers to the Cadillac Trivia Question each game, their broadcasts have become tradition for fans of the “Original Six” franchise.

Jobs broadcasting professional sporting events are hard to come by in general, and there is surely a long list of aspiring announcers who wish to occupy the broadcast booth at “The World’s Most Famous Arena” in the largest media market in the world. For those setting those goals, it is important to stick to them and shoot towards them with full force, or in Rangers’ hockey terms, as hard as a Mika Zibanejad slapshot – having played professionally notwithstanding. Doing so may create memories sure to “last a lifetime.”

“You might love hockey, but if there’s a football opening and you can do football, go for it,” Rosen said. “Never lose sight of your ultimate goals – it’s great to have ultimate goals – but be versatile and have the ability to change course and go for it where that opening presents itself and do that game and do that sport as well as any other sport.”

“Don’t treat it like just because you played the game that suddenly you’re going to become a good broadcaster and know how to do it because it’s a job,” Micheletti added. “People work awfully hard in the industry to get these jobs so be respectful of it, take advice, ask questions and watch yourself and listen to yourself when you’re doing it because a lot of times I didn’t; I still try to do that. Then rely on people that are really good in the business to help you out.”

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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BSM Writers

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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