As avid hockey fans, we love reading about hockey coverage from every perspective. This coverage took a step back two weeks ago when ESPN, the largest sports outlet in the world, laid off a huge number of its staff, including several high-profile members of its NHL crew.
ESPN has been dealing with declining viewership and readership in the past years, and decided the middle of the NHL playoffs was the right time to get rid of its hockey reporters. ESPN had very limited hockey coverage to begin with, listing NHL sixth on its navigation after every major professional sport and college football. Laying off respected reporters such as Pierre LeBrun, Joe McDonald and Scott Burnside diminished the coverage even further.
ESPN fired their entire NHL crew in the middle of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Guess it was eating into 24/7 NFL draft coverage.
— Stephen Miller (@redsteeze) April 26, 2017
In addition to a lot of hardworking individuals losing their jobs, the layoffs mean the NHL has an even smaller footprint in the national media world.
“It saddens me because I think ESPN’s hockey coverage online was the best in the business before they got rid of those guys,” DC-based Associated Press writer Stephen Whyno told the Washington Post’s Dan Steinberg. “Even though the network didn’t pay hockey the same attention it paid other sports, the online coverage was fantastic. It was original reporting. It was coverage you’d expect to get from a network in Canada, because of the quality of the journalists that they had.”
Although ESPN has cut back on its own NHL reporters, the network still has an interest in covering the sport. And that’s where things got awkward.
After the Nashville Predators defeated the St. Louis Blues on Sunday, Preds defenseman P.K. Subban took a reporter’s microphone to interview teammate Roman Josi. Arpon Basu, a reporter for LNH.com, NHL’s french affiliate, documented the moment on Twitter.
P.K. Subban interviews Roman Josi postgame. pic.twitter.com/tB2ZjFVo1R
— Аrpon Basu (@ArponBasu) May 7, 2017
The ESPN Assignment Desk’s twitter account sent Basu a tweet asking for a follow and a DM. The account’s feed is full of tweets asking for permission to use others videos and photos.
@ArponBasu Hello, can you follow us so that we can send you a DM?
— ESPNAssignmentDesk (@ESPNAssignDesk) May 8, 2017
Asking permission is standard operating procedure for large outlets that want to use viral content, but maybe not the right move after letting go all its NHL reporters. Basu replied with the most fire tweet I have seen.
@ESPNAssignDesk I followed but if it's to ask permission to use content, don't bother. The answer is no. This is why you should have reporters.
— Аrpon Basu (@ArponBasu) May 8, 2017
Basu opted not to post the audio recording, instead publishing a transcription of their account.
Here's the transcript of P.K. Subban's interview with Roman Josi. pic.twitter.com/UzcaphPlHM
— Аrpon Basu (@ArponBasu) May 7, 2017
ESPN did not end up running a story on Subban.
LeBrun, McDonald and Burnside did not let their layoffs stop them from covering the playoffs. On May 5, Whyno tweeted a photo of the three of them in DC in time for Game Five.
Three of the best in the business have landed in the American capital. pic.twitter.com/UTAl1qlmu1
— Stephen Whyno (@SWhyno) May 5, 2017
Photo: Arpon Basu
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