Next Monday, ESPN3 will air the sixth of its minimum seven games they announced earlier this month as part of an agreement with the KHL. The ESPN2 broadcasts featuring Steve Levy and Barry Melrose were, uh, not so good, but it was still real live hockey featuring a sprinkling of NHLers like Zdeno Chara and Alex Ovechkin.
Looking to further its television imprint in North America while the NHL sits on the sidelines, the KHL has come to an agreement with MSG Network (owned by New York Rangers owner James Dolan) to broadcast two games in the next week featuring tri-state area players Ilya Kovalchuk of the New Jersey Devils and Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh.
MSG Networks, New York's hockey home, will telecast two Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) games in October. The games, on Friday, October 26 and Wednesday, October 31 on MSG, will be presented at 1:00 p.m. Eastern [on a 1-hour delay] with an encore presentation in primetime both nights at 8:00 p.m.
MSG's John Giannone will call play-by-play alongside analyst Joe Micheletti from the MSG Studios at 11 Penn Plaza.
Formed in 2008, the KHL includes 26 hockey clubs from Belarus, Czech Republic, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Russia, Slovakia and Ukraine split into four divisions. The league runs from September to April and the winner is awarded the Gagarin Cup.
MSG's presentation of KHL games is in association with the leagues' media partner, UFA Sports GmbH.
Friday's tilt between Dinamo Minsk and Barys Astana will feature McDonagh, Victor Hedman, Evander Kane, Joe Pavelski, and everyone's favorite KHL goon, Jon Mirasty. Next Wednesday, when Dinamo Riga and SKA St. Petersburg meet, viewers will see Kovalchuk, Sergei Bobrovsky and Vladimir Tarasenko.
With voids on their broadcasting schedules now, stations need content. So with an aggressive media partner in UFA Sports, the KHL could really become a regular presence this season in North America as the NHL cancels more and more games.
After ESPN and now MSG, Canada, you might be next.
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy