If you thought the NHL television package in the United States moving to ESPN and TNT would mean more national exposure for the Florida Panthers, well, you’re going to have to wait until next year.
On Thursday, both outlets announced their 2021-22 game schedules and the Panthers, despite being considered one of the top teams in the league, are one of the few teams — Ottawa, Columbus, Winnipeg and Calgary are the others — not part of the traditional national coverage on ESPN, ABC or TNT.
ESPN, which is back in the NHL game for the first time since 2004, will have eight Florida games on its ESPN+/Hulu streaming package throughout the season.
The eight games will be exclusive to ESPN+/Hulu, which means you’ll have to be a subscriber and stream these games in order to watch them.
Those games (listed below) will not be broadcast on Bally Sports Florida/Sun.
So, with no other games taken by ESPN/ABC or TNT, the regular Florida broadcast featuring Steve Goldstein, Randy Moller & Co. will be available for 74 games.
A subscription to ESPN’s streaming service also includes what was known as the NHL.TV package (in the United States) so all out-of-market games will be available for stream with a subscription.
Canadian customers will still have to purchase a separate subscription.
So, if you’re a hockey fan (and if you’re reading this on this site, the bet is you are), you either already have ESPN+ or will be getting it.
Turner Sports, which is in its first season of NHL coverage, has a 50-game schedule which starts with a doubleheader on Oct. 13.
The NHL on TNT will have exclusive coverage on 25 Wednesday nights throughout the season – including 15 doubleheaders.
In the spring, TNT adds seven Sundays of games.
Although TNT will have six appearances by the Oilers — and five appearances each by the Avalanche, Blues, Bruins, Capitals, Kraken, Lightning, Penguins, Rangers and Wild — the Panthers will not have a single game on TNT.
ESPN will also broadcast 18 games on standard cable/satellite with ABC showing 10.
Florida Panthers ESPN+/Hulu schedule: Oct. 29 at Detroit; Nov. 9 at New Jersey; Nov. 16 vs. Islanders; Feb. 1 at Rangers; Feb. 24 vs. Columbus; March 15 at San Jose; March 17 at Vegas; April 21 vs. Detroit.