Earlier today, the national coverage of the 2022-23 NHL season has been announced by Walt Disney and Warner Bros-Discovery, respectively. The Walt Disney Company sent out a press release announcing their broadcast schedule for NHL games in the upcoming 2022-23 regular season. Between ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN+, and Hulu, they will exclusively broadcast 103 games. The coverage will begin with the first night of the season on October 11 all the way to April 13. ESPN will broadcast the NHL All-Star Skills Competition on February 3, 2023; ABC will broadcast the 2023 NHL All-Star Game on February 4, 2023; and they will host the Stadium Series game between Carolina and Washington in the Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh on February 18, 2023. More relevant to this site, they are covering 7 New Jersey Devils games this season:
- Thursday, October 13, 2022 - Devils at Philadelphia Flyers, 7 PM ET, ESPN+/Hulu
- Thursday, October 20, 2022 - Devils at New York Islanders, 7:30 PM ET, ESPN+/Hulu
- Tuesday, January 10, 2023 - Devils at Carolina Hurricanes, 7 PM ET, ESPN+/Hulu
- Friday, January 13, 2023 - Devils at Anaheim Ducks, 10 PM ET, ESPN+/Hulu
- Tuesday, February 14, 2023 - Devils at Columbus Blue Jackets, 7:30 PM ET, ESPN+/Hulu
- Thursday, February 16, 2023 - Devils at St. Louis Blues, 9 PM ET, ESPN
- Saturday, April 1, 2023 - Devils vs. Chicago Blackhawks, 8 PM ET, ESPN2
Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you. All seven exclusive games by Disney this season for the Devils are all road games. Not once will they be at the Rock. I find that to be odd.
Also: There are two games that will be on the actual networks and both are cross-conference games for some reason. One would think a game against Our Hated Rivals or even another Devils-Flyers or Devils-Isles game for a local rivalry would be picked. Not quite.
Further: The Devils will only be a part of three double-headers for the larger network. The October 13, January 10, and April 1 games all have other broadcasts earlier or later in the day. Yes, the exclusive airing of Devils at Columbus on Valentine’s Day and Devils at Blues on ESPN2 are the only NHL games on the docket for the company.
Lastly, in the press release, certain games were highlighted. Two involved the Devils:
Oct. 13 – New Jersey Devils at Philadelphia Flyers – Coach John Tortorella makes Flyers coaching debut in Philadelphia home opener (ESPN+/Hulu)
Jan. 13 – New Jersey Devils at Anaheim Ducks – Rising stars Jack Hughes vs. Trevor Zegras (ESPN+/Hulu)
This should give you an idea of what the narrative will be for those two games at least. It makes some sense. Tortorella’s return to coaching from the broadcast booth (couch? chair?) is a reason to hype up what could be a terrible Flyers season. The listing for the January 13 game in Anaheim is a sign that Disney sees The Big Deal as, well, a big deal. Especially as he faces his former USNTDP teammate and Anaheim’s own big deal, Trevor Zegras. I’m confident Jack Hughes will go from strength to strength this season. Will Zegras? We’ll find out then. The other five games featuring the Devils did not get highlighted. Although, I am sure the broadcast will bring up Lou for the Islanders game on October 20 and Johnny Gaudreau may be a point of interest for Columbus on Valentine’s Day. The other three games, well, maybe something will develop by those nights.
A quick scan of the 103 games shows that the Devils’ seven games is not the fewest, but it is on the lower end. Arizona may get their college arena debut on ESPN+ but they only have three games scheduled. Florida only has five games on the schedule; all before January 1, 2023. Ottawa and Vancouver are completely absent from this list. There are only two games involving Calgary. Your mileage may vary if this is a good thing or not. It is much more than the coverage the Devils are getting on TNT this season. There are a whole two Devils games that will be shown through the NHL on TNT:
- December 21, 2022, Devils at Florida Panthers, 7 PM ET, TNT
- January 4, 2023, Devils at Detroit Red Wings, 7 PM ET, TNT (exclusive)
Again, no home games for the two TNT games. I understand that TNT has a smaller slate of games to show (62 games). Their big prize is the Winter Classic between Pittsburgh and Boston at Fenway on January 2, 2023 and the Stanley Cup Finals. The Devils really are just there to make up the numbers on TNT.
There is an argument to be made that a team that could be seen as rising up for the future (which it has been for at least 3 seasons now) should have more games. Especially a team led by Nico Hischier, pictured in the headline to show that he absolutely should get more coverage. But, more seriously, the number of games for national coverage will be about 9 games until the team starts winning more often and having seasons that are not effectively over on January 1. I hope 2022-23 will have that, which will mean more attention in the future not just from the People Who Matter, potential, lapsed, and current, but also from the sports media at large.
What do you make of the Devils games getting national coverage this season? Are you surprised that there are nine of them? Are you surprised they are all road games? Are you surprised there’s no game against Our Hated Rivals among the nine? Will Tomas Tatar get his name pronounced correctly for all 7 of those ESPN games this time? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about these announcements in the comments. Thank you for reading.