Folks, we’re just 43 days away from the Blue Jackets’ first game of the 2022-23 regular season.
Most Jackets games will air on Bally Sports Ohio, but will any of them air on ABC/ESPN or TNT, the NHL’s national broadcast partners in the US? Excluding games broadcast exclusively on ESPN+/Hulu, the Blue Jackets didn’t have any games on the three aforementioned networks last season, according to sportsmediawatch.com.
After an exciting offseason headlined by the signing of Johnny Gaudreau, the Jackets should be a bigger draw nationally this season. Here are my best guesses as to which games could be broadcast nationally in the US.
Thursday, November 10 vs. Philadelphia
John Tortorella’s return to Columbus should build buzz in the NHL, and Tortorella’s employer for the 2021-22 season, ESPN, has NHL games on Thursday nights. Other games in that window that could rival this one are Calgary at Boston and Edmonton at Carolina. Plus, the Jackets and Flyers meet in Columbus just five days later, so if there are fireworks in the first game, could the Jackets be on ESPN twice in six days?
Saturday, December 17 @ Boston
This game is a 1 pm ET start, which ABC would use to broadcast NHL Saturday games last season. The only other game in this window is Ottawa at Detroit.
Thursday, January 5 against Washington
Alexander Ovechkin will always be a national draw, and it’s a Metro division matchup. The other games in this window are Arizona at Philadelphia, NY Rangers at Montreal, Nashville at Carolina, Seattle at Toronto and St. Louis at New Jersey.
Monday, January 16 vs. New York Rangers
This game takes place on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day and games will begin at 1 pm ET. The Rangers are a huge draw and the only other games in this window are Anaheim at Pittsburgh and Washington at the NY Islanders.
Monday, January 23 @ Calgary
Johnny Gaudreau’s return to Calgary should be the talk of the league that day and it’s the only game in the league that starts after 9 pm ET.
Saturday, February 25 against Edmonton
I think ABC would jump at the chance to televise Connor McDavid nationally, especially when this game starts at 12:30 p.m. ET, unlike most Edmonton games, which start at 9 p.m. This is the only game that day that starts before 3 pm ET.
Tuesday, April 4 @ Toronto
This is a showcase of two of the best American-born players in the league: Auston Matthews and Leafs host Johnny Gaudreau and the Jackets. The other games in the 7 pm ET time slot include Buffalo in Florida, Detroit in Montreal, Ottawa in Carolina and Pittsburgh in New Jersey.
I’ll be curious to see if the Jackets are on national TV this season. These are all viable options, but this too is just a mental exercise and I’m not a TV executive.