Sure, we all know that the NHL could use the national exposure on ESPN. But why does ESPN need the NHL?
Because ESPN is terrible.
Think about all the "sports" programming that airs in place of hockey:
I'll admit, the World Series of Poker was entertaining for about a day and a half...in 2003. Yet, the number of times I've seen poker reruns exceeds the number of times Brent Johnson let one through the five hole. Yikes.
And the World's Strongest Man is funny for like, 3 seconds. It also loses its significance when you figure that Rod Brind'Amour could probably beat all of them.
The Spelling Bee probably is only entertaining to the parents of the kids in them, or really sadistic people who like watching the hopes, dreams and confidence of little kids get crushed get crushed faster than the 2007 Atlanta Thrashers playoff hopes.
Who could forget the time when ESPN aired Roger Clemens' rehab assignment in the minor league, when Clemens would pitch and analysts would provide commentary in studio during the other half inning? It so insignificant that it was sort of like turning on the TV and watching the news crew film an NFL wide receiver doing something mundane like sit ups on his lawn...oh, wait...
And please, the NBA and WNBA? Seriously? Need I say more? Not even the departure of Gary Bettman could bring the NBA into the big time.
So, with that being said, I think the NHL is the perfect match for ESPN, because, well, it's an actual sport and not a sideshow freak like the Little League World Series. And hey, if you're Chris Drury, Ray Ferraro, Stephane Matteau, or Pierre Turgeon, we all know the Little League World Series is really just a starting point for an NHL career, so maybe they should just call it the "NHL Prospects Tournament."
ESPN needs hockey because it needs legitimate sports programming. Too many other stations can pick up stupid little things like trick shot billiards with the dude that looks like Mark Twain. But only ESPN can carry a bona fide competitive sport...that is, when they're not airing the professional bowling championships.
I know, I know. Hockey gets lower ratings than professional lawn darts. But let's be real with ourselves for a minute...if ESPN thought such sophomoric sports coverage could sell better than the NHL, would they be willing to take us back? The fact that ESPN is rumored to want the league back on the air is proof they see the need to return to real sports, not quick fix. "ESPN 8 The Ocho" caliber programming that loses its appeal faster than an MTV reality series.
As much as I loathe ESPN for their sports snottiness and heir elitist attitude towards hockey, we need the exposure. I'm tired of being the only one in Kansas City who knows who Alex Ovechkin is.