The NHL has new homes for their National TV broadcasts starting this season. After 15 years with NBC, the league will now be found on the airwaves of ESPN and Turner Sports/TNT. For the next seven seasons, the league will be split between the two networks, with ABC/ESPN holding the majority of the broadcasting rights. On Thursday afternoon, both networks released their 2021-22 National and out-of-market coverage schedules.
For the Blackhawks, there will be nine National TV broadcasts this season, up from the seven National TV appearances the team made during the 2020-21 season. Chicago will have five games Nationally on TNT, with four games being broadcast Nationally on ESPN/ABC. Additionally, ESPN will stream four out-of-market Blackhawks games on ESPN+ and Hulu.
Here’s the full breakdown (all times are Central):
• October 13 – at Avalanche (9:00 p.m. – TNT) *Season Opener
• October 19th – vs Islanders (7:00 p.m. – ESPN) *Home Opener
• November 12th – vs Coyotes (7:30 p.m. – ESPN+/Hulu)
• November 17th – at Kraken (9:00 p.m. – TNT)
• November 26th – vs Blues (12:00 p.m. – ABC)
• January 4th – vs Avalanche (7:30 p.m. – ESPN+/Hulu)
• January 26th – at Red Wings (6:30 p.m. – TNT)
• February 2nd – vs Wild (8:30 p.m. – TNT)
• March 5th – at Flyers (2:00 p.m. – ABC)
• March 23rd – at Ducks (9:00 p.m. – TNT)
• March 24th – at Kings (9:00 p.m. – ESPN+/Hulu)
• March 26th – at Golden Knights (2:00 p.m. – ABC)
• April 25th vs Flyers (7:00 p.m. – ESPN+/Hulu)
All other games will be found this season on NBC Sports Chicago.
The Blackhawks, once prominently featured on National TV broadcasts upwards of 20 times a season back in their NBC heyday, see an uptick in their visibility on the National scale in the first year of the ESPN/Turner era. With the roster turnover that included the additions of Seth Jones and Marc-André Fleury, increased postseason expectations, as well as the return of Jonathan Toews this season, there should be more general interest on a National level in the Blackhawks. That is unless the off-ice scandals tune-out viewers from those games.
Time will tell.