By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — ESPN is the worldwide leader in sports, yet the company is not known for its coverage of the sport of hockey. Ever since ESPN lost the broadcast rights to NHL games in 2005, the network has dedicated fewer and fewer resources to the sport. That trend reached a new low in April, when ESPN included its three most prominent hockey reporters in its round of layoffs.
So, clearly, ESPN has a checkered history with regard to hockey. Yet the four-person panel on “SportsNation” this week tried to have some hockey talk anyway.
It didn’t go very well.
When discussing the story of a Predators fan who missed out on free tickets to a Stanley Cup Final by not checking his Twitter messages, LZ Granderson said the fan would probably never get that chance again. Granderson believes this to be the case because of the Predators’ franchise history in … Atlanta?
Let’s allow Granderson to explain.
“It’s doubtful they’ll be back any time soon. That’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Granderson said, which prompted the other panelists to ask him why he was so sure. “Because I used to follow them when they were in Atlanta when they were the Atlanta Thrashers. Between Atlanta Thrashers and Nashville, they made it to one Stanley Cup. That’s like 15 years! That’s like 15 years! So once every 15 years!”
The one minor problem with Granderson’s argument is that, well, the Predators were never the Thrashers. The Thrashers were the Thrashers. Then the Thrashers moved to Winnipeg. Which is in Manitoba. In Canada. It’s not in Tennessee.
Where Granderson might have gotten confused is that the Predators and the Thrashers both entered the league around the same time in the late ’90s. Both were expansion teams in southern U.S. cities. And both were largely irrelevant nationally for most of their existence. (Neither team won a playoff series until 2011.)
But the Thrashers left Atlanta for Winnipeg six years ago, while the Predators have stayed put in Nashville.
Of course, speaking on live television about something you’re not entirely familiar with can lead to mistakes, and Granderson said he admitted his error and corrected himself after being told he was wrong. Though Granderson did get a little feisty when called out for the error.
That was immediately followed by Granderson taking some accountability.
Regardless, what spoke louder than the brain fart by Granderson was the fact that none of the other three people at the desk and no producers behind the scenes knew enough to immediately point out that this statement was incorrect. Not everybody has to know everything (or even a few things) about the NHL; certainly somebody involved with the program discussing the sport should.
After Granderson said the Predators used to be the Thrashers, Marcellus Wiley said, “That was a long time ago.”
“That’s a really pessimistic view, and I don’t care for it,” Michelle Beadle said.
The statement was allowed to just linger … thus making the misstatement look worse.
Granted, most folks tuning in to SportsNation aren’t doing so for the hockey talk, and that’s likely to remain the case for the foreseeable future.