I missed this last week, but Mike Penner of the LA Times had a column suggesting it’s best for the NHL and for ESPN if the two continue to work together (login info.).
I think the NHL needs ESPN a lot more than ESPN needs the NHL, though. ESPN has Bobby Knight. That’s enough programming for the next 20 years.
I do hope that whoever ends up with the rights to the NHL decides to broadcast games based on merit. I don’t think ESPN or ESPN2 broadcast any Calgary games until the last rounds of the 2004 Stanley Cup playoffs. So very few average, non-hockey crazed sports fans even knew who Jarome Iginla was, despite his being one of the league’s best and most exciting players. If ESPN had sold the game a little better during the season, more people might have actually been interested in a Tampa/Calgary finals.