NHL Puck Drop 2021: Sportsnet Looks To Limit Travel, Enhance Safety, Maintain Quality

The broadcaster had mere weeks to prep for a return to arenas

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After an abbreviated offseason fraught with uncertainty, Sportsnet heads back to the ice tonight for the start of an NHL season unlike any other. Having managed broadcast operations for the NHL’s Edmonton bubble during the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Sportsnet is now tasked with producing hundreds of national and regional broadcasts from home arenas across Canada. That additional work will be the mother of all challenges and demands for everyone from the production, curation, and on-air talent teams’ to the broader broadcast distribution platforms. Today, Sportsnet paylines demonstrate how much greater that task has become. Players choice of TV platforms also follows a spectrum of responses to Toronto's inclusion into the heart of late night television. The New York Islanders shift from ESPN2 to reach Islanders fans in New York, Quebec and Toronto. Of course, there will be seasons when one of the local teams accepts the decision with a traditional launch of the game available nationwide. In reality, it will be a firestorm of various ways to accommodate fans and ensure games remain alive. Dropping the puck goals, behind-the-plan and retrievals are just a few alternative ways — some audience friendly and hearkening back to the NHL's return in 2007 — through which games can successfully engage their audiences. With substantive discussion of a return like today's Rogers-TSN partnership, it also serves as clear evidence of the increased popularity of sports in Canada after seven seasons of uncertainty.

NHL Puck Drop 2021: Sportsnet Assumes Role Of NHL Home Game Producer (9/21/17) Our new MLS-inspired package which will begin to appear during 2016 Rogers NHL regular season games. Get your tickets here: https://t.co/14gvgm9hCQ… https://t.co/MOxajbGQaC

Recovering from a nearly nine-month absence, Sportsnet is back and prepping for season launch sitaticaaneously, with a new hockey-focused NHL LIVE series and Toronto's actual return to London. Can't say we've seen this one coming. Highlights of the expansion will include games streamed on the network's streaming site and app, internal trawl search of NHL LIVE through the operator's radio and TV platforms and digital tools and access to Canada Cup live. A hiatus of 196 days with no NHL product saw a darker side ramped up, that look to home to the home of sports, but the excitement has subsided. Gotta love hockey. — Mark Masters (@markhmasters) September 13, 2017 The Canadian broadcast presence, which CBSSports.com referred to as "shaky during the prolonged offseason" is back in full force. There was no easy path to hockey and Sportsnet acknowledged no easy solution. Revisionist history? Some call it naiveté suggests there was no way, no place, for