Puck the Media’s Uncut Interview with John Buccigross

I thought the interview with John Buccigross was good stuff for the article I did, so I felt it’d be interesting if you got to read everything I talked to him about. It isn’t too long, but I think some of the stuff he said about the reaction inside ESPN to the Gold Medal Game is pretty fun to read about. Thanks again to Bucci, who is a pal to the blog.

Puck the Media: Looking back on it, where does the Gold Medal Game rank on games you’ve seen all-time?

John Buccigross: To tell you the truth, I remember very little about the game outside of Crosby, Parise and hoping Chris Drury would somehow add the final championship pelt with dramatic flair. Because of all the highlight restrictions with Olympic video it’s challenging to have indelible Olympic images seared into our hard drives. When was the last time you saw Peter Forsberg’s postage stamp goal? What I remember most about the US-Canada game is that every TV at ESPN had hockey on it. Sadly, that’s the only time hockey is a national sport. Even the Stanley Cup is mostly a parochial event. I don’t understand why they can’t see what I see or feel what I feel watching hockey. I’m a pretty reasonable dude. But, to somewhat answer your question, when Zach Parise scored I had enough adrenaline to power all seven of Melrose’s garage door openers at his Tampa Bay Lightning financed crib.

PTM: Do you think the game and that tournament/the US run has helped increase the awareness of hockey in the US? At ESPN?

JB: Certainly, the ratings show people watch, lots of people watch. I imagine lots of those people watching are NHL fans but as my ESPN story above shows a lot people who don’t normally watch were watching hockey. And it may have fed fuel to youngsters playing the game and may have caused some kids to take up the game but I don’t think overall it causes people to make hockey consuming a part of their everyday lives. Olympic hockey has very little real effect on the NHL. That is why Gary Bettman has not embraced it wholly-because I’m sure his owners don’t because it doesn’t help their bottom line. Do you ever watch a track and field event on TV that’s not the Olympic? No, you don’t. That’s how the non-believers (of hockey) approach hockey consumption-like we approach track and field consumption. ESPN does not need to be made aware of hockey. They have all the data on the awareness and interest of all sports and make their business decisions accordingly. They work for Disney-they make decisions with their heads not their hearts.

PTM: As someone who is around a lot of different levels of hockey, do you think at the youth level there’s been an effect yet from the Olympics?

JB: It’s interesting, I just don’t hear a lot of NHL talk around the rink . There are a few kids who know the players but they are rare so I wonder how the Olympics effect them. USA Hockey continues to get smarter and evolve as a kid friendly, proactive organization committed to developing the best hockey players in the world and growing the number or participants.

Part of kids not talking hockey is that is we at Sportscenter don’t celebrate and cover NHL players outside of Crosby and Ovechkin. Kids get most of their sports from Sportscenter. Matt Duchene is the talent and excitement equivalent of John Wall of the Wizards yet America has no idea who Matt Duchene is because we don’t show Matt Duchene highlights.

But, at some point it has to stop being Sportscenter’s fault. Their has never been a better time to be a hockey fan. I can listen to a game on sattelite radio in my car as it goes to a shootout, pull in my driveway and run inside my house and catch the shootout on the Center Ice Package before changing to NHL Network and watch the night’s highlights. I can check Twitter for any news before bed. I can wake up and check TSN and ESPN’s Stats and Notes. I can consume all day. If we can get kids to play hockey and then begin to consume hockey via all media then that will grow the game. We will have fans for life. That’s where the growth potential is-kids, the rink, and social media.

16 Responses to Puck the Media’s Uncut Interview with John Buccigross

  1. William Chernow says:

    Bucci makes some good points about ESPN. While it is easy to blame them, they dont make any money off the NHL why would they cover it? However not everyone can afford XM or t he Center Ice package so while the game is covered better it still doesnt get the national coverage. I think the NHL network needs to be offered on all cable systems as well as VS. I dont see ESPN changing their schedule, so fans of the NHL simply have to go elsewhere to get the news they want

  2. E says:

    I agree with alot of what he has to say. ESPN is not going to change. The best thing hockey ever did was to go to another network to televise the sport. The league really has to promote the sport more. Using NBC as a platform during the football season would be a great start. They should buy time during the football season to promote the sport. Football has the most viewers of anything on television. Show hockey commercials during the NFL season. This would really work.
    Also, whatever happened to the John Buccigross hockey blog on ESPN?
    It does not appear anymore.

  3. John LA says:

    So ESPN should only cover sports they make money off of? At no point is it ever NOT ESPN/Sportscenter’s fault. I lost so much respect for him reading that line

  4. Arthur says:

    I disagree with Wiliam and wholeheartedly agree with John LA. If you are going to call yourself “The Worldwide Leader In Sports” then be that. Don’t be “The Worldwide Leader Only In Sports We Have Rights To”
    I love Bucci. NHL2Night was a great watch with Melrose and the cast of characters. It was the place to get NHL news on a regular basis. Bucci’s blog was a great read. The piece he did on Brian Burke’s son Brendan should be shown to all aspiring writers, columnists etc. He is dead on with his opinion that USA Hockey is making the game better for kids.
    But if the youth of America get their sports news from ESPN’s SportsCenter, then they have to be held accountable for their shoddy treatment of hockey and the NHL. To me, a man past his youth, SportsCenter has become unwatchable.

  5. William Chernow says:

    Arthur my point is that why WOULD ESPN cover hockey, I think they SHOULD cover hockey. Its just business they dont cover it- when they had the rights to the NHL they ran commercials all the time. Its not ESPNs fault that they dont have the rights to the game. You dont see VS or NBC running ads for the NBA….I dont watch SC anymore- specifically because they dont cover the NHL. I get my news from the NHL Network. The league has done a great job with the internet and other media outlets but they need to get the Network and VS on more cable providers.

  6. stevelepore says:

    VERSUS actually airs NBA D-League programming, which airs NBA ads. But okay…

  7. William Chernow says:

    John in LA- Think about this watch ESPN or listen to one of their radio shows and see how many times they show an NBA highlight and than promote an upcoming game, now when or IF they show a hockey highlight are they going to tell you to turn to VS or NBC to watch a game. Its not smart business and ESPN is in business to make money. I do think ESPN is culpable in the terrible coverage of hockey but I understand why they treat it so poorly. I think the NHL just needs to realise that ESPN is mainly a lost cause and focus on NBC, VS and NHL Net.

    • John says:

      Actually I’m in NJ, I just forgot to change my name on the other computer. Moving along, its like Arthur said, they call themselves the world wide leader in sports not the world wide leader in sports that give them money. They dont have to say turn to VS or NBC or even NHLN to watch the games, THAT would be dumb. But they should show highlights from the games. They show soccer highlights, and not just the league they air, hell they air MLS and theres almost never any MLS highlights. I dont think you can say ESPN is in the buisness of making money, I think they’re in the buisniess of TAKING money.

      As for the NHL focusing on ESPN, I dont think its been reported who the NHL is in talks with in terms of TV contracts, so far its all speculation. But its well known ESPN does want the NHL back. If thats the case, why are they still ignoring this “niche” sport?

      One reason the NHL isnt talked about is because they dont have any off ice scandals and few on ice ones. Its the same reason MLB didnt get much coverage until all the off field stuff started happening more in that sport.

  8. William Chernow says:

    Alright Steve- they do show NBA D-league games, which are probably more entertaining than a regualr NBA game, but I do understand Buccis point. You cant throw your hands up and say “well I like hockey but ESPN doesnt cover it so its their fault” The league does a less than commendable job of US coverage. They have to find a way to get more games on TV….the NBC/Comcast merger is a good start but again while I’m not in agreement with ESPN on their hockey coverage I do understand why they do it. I think we can all agree though if they can find a way to get that blowhard Colin Cowherd off the air the world will be a better place

  9. Stephen says:

    I agree with you. I don’t watch SportsCenter no more. Unless its Football or Baseball Season. Even NASCAR season as well. I don’t like basketball and I never will. Since the new NBC Sports Group has merge, they will show ESPN that the NBC Sports Group is the new Worldwide Leader in Sports.

  10. Ryan says:

    Devil’s advocate time. The NBC Sports Updates at the beginning of their NHL coverage focus on whatever they have the rights to – hockey, golf, etc., and exclude basketball and anything else they don’t own. Is that okay?

  11. William Chernow says:

    Ryan, are you referring to my statement about ESPN cross promoting their shows? If so,then yes I think its okay that they dont focus on those sports they dont own the rights to. The more I thought about the ESPN/NHL coverage the angrier I got. Mostly it was because I realised they use the NHL as the butt of their jokes. Anytime anything in sports happens there always seems to be a negative comment geared toward the NHL. I would be happy if ESPN stopped talking hockey all together.

  12. Patrick says:

    NBC doesnt use “world wide leader.” if you use the slogan u should back it up.

  13. Patrick says:

    ur right world doesnt mean that…i guess sports are played outside this world too….

  14. Branden says:

    Well ESPN covers the playoffs alot.

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