ESPN is cutting virtually all of its NHL coverage. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

ESPN is cutting most of its NHL coverage. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Hockey diehards often lambast ESPN for skimping on NHL coverage. But now it looks like the WorldWide Leader is preparing to ignore the sport all together.

As expected, ESPN underwent mass layoffs Wednesday, cutting dozens of high-profile employees so it can trim tens of millions of dollars from its payroll. The network’s relatively minuscule NHL department was hit hard, with three respected reporters receiving their walking papers.

NHL Insider Pierre LeBrun, columnist Scott Burnside and Boston-based reporter Joe McDonald have all announced they were laid off. The status of anchor John Buccigross, who plays a significant role in the network’s Stanley Cup Playoff coverage, remains uncertain. The Hollywood Reporter said earlier Wednesday he was let go, but walked the story back. Buccigross’ contract expires July 1 and hasn’t been renewed.

“Whatever happens, I’m very optimistic about the future of ESPN and about my future,” Buccigross told Sporting News last month. “We both will be fine. I’m not the anchor for gossip. I go into work with my head down, work with our producers to put a compelling 60 minutes together, and walk out the door and drive to my rural Connecticut home singing Jason Isbell songs. I get home, eat 10 pieces of American cheese and then read until I fall asleep.”

Given Barry Melrose was the only NHL analyst to receive significant television time, the coverage on “SportsCenter” and other studio shows likely won’t be much different. But the NHL’s limited exposure on ESPN’s digital properties will probably be further minimized.

Since ESPN doesn’t own NHL rights, this decision isn’t surprising. Like every other TV network, ESPN is interested in promoting its own programming.

Blog Author: 
Alex Reimer

The attorney for Aaron Hernandez’s alleged prison friend affirmed Wednesday his client enjoyed a close relationship with the disgraced ex-NFL star.

Aaron Hernandez's family has possession of his three suicide notes. (Keith Bedford/The Boston Globe)

Aaron Hernandez’s family has possession of his three suicide notes. (Keith Bedford/The Boston Globe)

The attorney for Aaron Hernandez’s alleged prison friend affirmed Wednesday his client enjoyed a close relationship with the disgraced ex-NFL star.

At a press conference, Lawrence F. Army Jr. said Kevin Kennedy, the 22-year-old armed robber who Hernandez reportedly befriended at Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, was the intended recipient of Hernandez’s third suicide note. State officials have confirmed the other two letters were written to Hernandez’s fiancee and four-year-old daughter. A judge ruled copies of the messages will be given to Hernandez’s family.

“My client has also relayed to me that he and Aaron Hernandez were close friends and spent a great deal of time together in prison,” Army said in his opening statement.

Army wouldn’t confirm the nature of their relationship, saying Kennedy will address that himself at a later date. The Daily Mail reports Hernandez and Kennedy were seeing each other behind bars.

Kennedy, who’s currently on suicide watch, is believed to be the last person Hernandez saw before he hanged himself in his prison cell last week just before 3:00 a.m. Army said Hernandez told Kennedy he was thinking about ending his life three weeks ago. “I think I’m going to hang it up. LOL,” the note allegedly said.

Army also claims Hernandez gifted a $50,000 watch to Kennedy on his 22nd birthday. The whereabouts of the piece of jewelry is unknown.

Army said he’s requesting the note in question be released to his client. The content of the letter is apparently unclear, because it was written in code. But Army says it was meant for Kennedy, citing the closeness of their relationship and a prison source. Hernandez’s attorney, Jose Baez, insists no such letter exists.

In an apparent effort to prove Kennedy’s friendship with Hernandez, Army read aloud one sentence from a letter the former Patriots tight end purportedly wrote to Kennedy’s father. “He’s my brother and always will be,” it said.

In September 2006, Hernandez and Kennedy asked to live with each other, Army said. But the request was denied.

“Aaron Hernandez was one of the most powerful forces as a person [Kennedy] has ever known, Army said. Aaron could took any situation, no matter how bad it seemed, and turn it into a positive.”

Kennedy was arrested in January 2015 for robbing a Cumberland Farms gas station in Northbridge. During the burglary, he was sporting a black mask and wielded a butcher knife. Police handcuffed him after a high-speed chase.

Kennedy is eligible to be released from prison March 1, 2018.

Blog Author: 
Alex Reimer
Some house cleaning is being done at ESPN as reports of employee cuts begin to come out. And how pissed/not pissed should Matt Barnes be?

John Skipper has just sent memo to all @espn employees. Layoffs announced today. Around 50 names you will recognize; another 50 you may not.

— jamesmiller (@JimMiller) April 26, 2017

ESPN is making major layoffs on Wednesday and many of the those affected are big names at the Worldwide Leader. Here is the ones we know so far:

— NFL reporter Ed Werder

— Hockey writer Joe McDonald


— Titans beat writer Paul Kuharsky

— NHL columnist Scott Burnside

— Hockey insider Pierre LeBrun

— College basketball reporter Dana O’Neil

— ESPNU host Brendan Fitzgerald

— Soccer writer Mike Goodman

— Big Ten reporter Austin Ward

Blog Author: 
Lucy Burdge
Buck joins the guys to discuss his piece on how the Red Sox need to address the Dustin Pedroia-Matt Barnes situation.

[0:03:49] ... little that these days. So so no I had no problem with Dustin Pedroia he's a rookie years in MVPs of gold glove winner he's won two World Series is probably gonna go all the pain. ...
[0:05:02] ... and you and I when we do agree is that is that John Farrell does some wacky things as manager. And on a regular basis I call him out. And the idea for all the people who said he's not a great game manager but that's not the most important thing is is that not a calling kind of John Farrell didn't come Brodsky say it. And and rob Bradford sales while the writers that we saw the passing game manager but that's not the most important thing that place home. That's the most important thing is that the way he runs the club ousted at the same page that is organization. Sometimes I don't see any organization I didn't see it in his last communication. I people in this case and one of the biggest concerns and coming in this season was there. Losing to real well. And David Ortiz that it would be in my view okay along with the public about where its name because he's not the about a ...
[0:07:04] ... job is that it's an athletic game you met we don't know Matt Barnes and John Ferraro. They gave it right we don't try to hit him on purpose and I have no problem but that's ...
[0:10:55] ... the team. That that is Kenya Africa put it this way if Matt Barnes didn't have any you you'll you know there's a good idea of the anatomy and Matt Barnes didn't have an issue with a Dustin Pedroia kidneys too scared to reveal that's what are just concerned OK I know hold on us too scared to reveal. Because the joy is though he isn't that locker room. OK but if he was a veteran you reduction and got right back and rejoice faith that this should happen you know I did try to hit him in the head. You everybody note which I don't know if you try to hit it in ahead. But the agency tried to hit them he missed a spot ski get scared because nobody wants you know there is what you would but I hardly think Matt Barnes is spot was. It's a bit of the bill but yes and yes but the guys are once guys uncomfortable thrown its ...

In a break from the usual, we start the show by goofing on Glenn. We get into the Boston Globe's piece on Tom Brady's charity.
In a break from the usual, we start the show by goofing on Glenn. We get into the Boston Globe's piece on Tom Brady's charity.
Hour 4. Bradford joins the show to defend the fact that he attends Ortiz’s charity event for free. Alex doesn’t think it was unethical to out Hernandez.

[0:11:25] ... entertainment one's journalism that's why. And no respect I also respect the Christian Fauria. When you write about or teasing cover t.'s coverage and every single day that carries a different kind of weight that will create it. What Michael Holley wrote the book but Tedy Bruschi and educated group in what way and you're on the air right public interest. Right exactly. That I'm not arguing about arguing ...
[0:12:39] ... an identity guard what are your story what if we talked about Warren Sapp sound like. Absolutely whether I'd say I'd say that wasn't right I grinned so it to charity well why did for the ...
[0:15:53] ... know how many other dimension sounds like a man and they mentioned Drew Brees quickly briefly. And that's it don't know how it works for ease. The army does and who do commission meaning no that ...