The National Hockey League released its 2002-03 national television schedule today, f
eaturing games on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC.
The Rangers will appear on national television 16 times throughout the course of the upcoming season, including a season-opening telecast on Wednesday, October 9 at Carolina at 8:00 PM ET.
NHL action has found a new night on ESPN, moving from Wednesday to Thursday. In addition, the schedule features more marquee matchups and exclusive presentations than past offerings as the networks try to continue the pronounced ratings increase the NHL enjoyed last season.
The move to Thursday is only one change for the upcoming season. A new Sunday afternoon franchise will premiere February 16 to build upon ESPN2's and ABC's weekend success last season. ESPN2 will continue its extensive regular-season NHL coverage with a 50-game schedule, primarily on Sundays and Thursdays. Combined with ESPN2's 11 Thursday telecasts, the networks will showcase the NHL on Thursdays 24 of 26 weeks. ABC, meanwhile, will broadcast five Saturday afternoon telecasts and carry February's All-Star Game from South Florida. ABC enjoyed its most-viewed regular season ever with last season's broadcasts.
In all, ESPN will have 21 games of coverage, including 14 Thursday night games. Ten of those games will be split national feeds, allowing more teams to be showcased. All three networks will show more games after February's All-Star Game as the season moves toward the Stanley Cup Playoffs. From the All-Star break through the end of the season, ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC Sports will average four games per week, providing fans more meaningful telecasts with playoff implications than ever before. ESPN will televise 62 percent of its games -- 13 of 21 -- as the playoff races heat up.