Subban Works SportsCenter as NHL Analyst

PK Subban, Devils’ defenseman and 2021 finalist for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy, has found an offseason gig.

The affable blueliner made his ESPN SportsCenter debut last Wednesday as a NHL analyst for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He will work for ESPN through the end of the playoffs.

The press release put out by the NHL notes that ABC and ESPN, along with “Turner Sports will take over national coverage of the NHL in the United States beginning next season, each signing a seven-year contract. The Stanley Cup Final will alternate between ABC and TNT, televised on ABC in 2022, 2024, 2026 and 2028, and on TNT in 2023, 2025 and 2027.”

In addition, the networks of Disney, “ABC and ESPN will televise 25 exclusive regular-season games each season. TNT and TBS will televise 72, including the NHL Winter Classic, the annual outdoor showcase on New Year’s Day.” ESPN will also “produce 75 national broadcasts each season and stream them on ESPN+ and Hulu, and stream more than 1,000 games each season on ESPN+.”

We have not really touched on the new broadcast contracts here on the blog, but it was confirmed back in May that Wayne Gretzky will be working as a studio analyst on the Turner broadcasts. While not really known as a “big” personality like Subban, Gretzky at least has credentials to his name. What he lacks in charisma, the “Great One” more than makes up for in name value. Even the most casual of hockey fans has heard of Wayne Gretzky. Whether that translates to “must see TV” remains to be seen, but Turner is at least trying to reel in eyeballs to their broadcasts by going for the big names.

Just don’t expect Charles Barkley or Shaq in terms of entertainment value.

Subban’s broadcasting spot on SportsCenter is an early preview of the synergy that the NHL and ESPN/Disney and Turner Sports will be able to provide. Hopefully that will continue and the networks will get bored with the league after a few seasons.

When his playing days are over, no one would make as good a TV personality as Subban. He is a likeable man and can give insight into what is going on on the ice. I can see nobody in the game today who would make a better analyst when he retires.

If Mike Babcock can get a job doing analysis on NBC, with his wooden delivery, then I see no reason to doubt that Subban can do well.

The aforementioned Barkley is a known hockey enthusiast. Shaq has even been honored by the Devils, being a native of Newark. That should help to connect the NHL and NBA, Turner’s main sports properties.

How the networks use their resources will, of course, decide how good the broadcasts are.

Subban One of Three King Clancy Finalists

According to Amanda Stein on the “Inside the Devils Blog,” Devils’ defenseman PK Subban is a finalist for the King Clancy Award, “given to a player ‘who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and who has made a significant humanitarian contribution to his community.’”

Former Devil Kurtis Gabriel, now of the San Jose Sharks and Predators’ goalie Pekka Rinne are the other two finalists.

Stein mentions that Subban “expanded his Blueline Buddies program to incorporate healthcare workers who have been on the front-lines of the Covid-19 pandemic. Subban worked around the pandemic and inability to host fans in person to take his program virtual to make sure he was still connecting with the New Jersey community, particularly in this time of need.”

As in past years, as when he started the program in Nashville, it also linked “members of law enforcement with New Jersey’s youth.” Subban was also a finalist for this award last year as well according to Stein.

Stein reports that the winner of the King Clancy Memorial Trophy will also “receive a $25,000 donation to benefit the charity or charities of his choice.” The runners-up will receive $5,000 for the same purpose.

The NHL Awards will not be a show this year, but rather, Stein says, the awards winners “will be revealed during the Stanley Cup Semifinals and Stanley Cup Final, with further details to follow.”

Congratulations to PK Subban for this great honor. He was the Devils’ nominee last year but came up short to Mat Dumba of the Minnesota Wild. Good luck to him as the awards are announced, he certainly deserves it.