Friday, December 22, 2017

Dick Enberg: 1935-2017

The fickle fingers of fate and aging silenced Dick Enberg on Thursday, three weeks before his 83rd birthday.

According to San Diego Union-Tribune columnist Bryce Miller, who broke the news on Twitter at 9:32 p.m. Pacific Standard Time, the cause was believed to be a heart attack.

Enberg, who former broadcast partner Dan Dierdorf described as "a monument to sports broadcasting," handled play-by-play duties for eight Super Bowls: at the time he retired, only Pat Summerall had done more (Al Michaels matched Enberg in 2012). He spent nine seasons in the 1980s as the television voice of the Rose Bowl and anchored NBC's Wimbledon coverage for nearly a quarter-century before working all four majors for ESPN and CBS in the new millennium.

Enberg also made his mark on the hardwood, calling half a dozen Final Fours on NBC from 1976-81 after serving as the voice of UCLA basketball for most of a decade prior. For the last four of those tournaments, he was the traffic cop in a three-man booth with Billy Packer and Al McGuire; in 2016, Awful Announcing named that trio the top NCAA Tournament announce team of all-time.

Two decades later, Enberg was reunited with March Madness at CBS: he called 11 straight regionals, the last six with Jay Bilas.

A Mount Clemens, Michigan, native, Enberg spent his entire career in sports, but started out on a different path. He graduated from Central Michigan University in 1957 before matriculating at Indiana University, leaving in 1965 with a doctorate in health sciences (while also voicing the first radio broadcast of the Little 500 bicycle race — think Breaking Away).

From 1961-65, he was an assistant professor and baseball coach at San Fernando Valley State College, which is now Cal State Northridge. In the mid-1960s, he jumped to radio for an 12-year tenure with the Los Angeles Raiders and a 10-year stint with the Los Angeles Angels. KMPC was the flagship station for both teams and used Enberg, Dave Niehaus and Don Drysdale on both of them.

Enberg's network television NFL debut would come on October 23, 1977; with the Rams playing on Monday Night Football, NBC had a seven-game slate that day and paired Enberg with Merlin Olsen for a Broncos-Bengals game in Cincinnati. He made another cameo on December 18, again with Olsen as the Patriots faced the Colts in Baltimore: the Rams had played in Washington the day before.

Curt Gowdy remained NBC's lead announcer in 1978, handling the Super Bowl and AFC Championship Game; however, Enberg and Olsen worked the Thanksgiving game in Detroit and games in the first two playoff weekends.

With Gowdy on CBS in 1979, Enberg slid into the lead chair: he and Olsen worked together 157 times through 1988, at which point only Frank Gifford and Howard Cosell had done more games together. Bill Walsh, Bob Trumpy, Phil Simms and Paul Maguire all spent time in the lead analyst chair over Enberg's last dozen years at NBC.

NBC lost the AFC's television rights to CBS in 1999; after a year away from the NFL, Enberg made the same leap in 2000. While he was never the lead man there, playing second fiddle to Greg Gumbel and Jim Nantz, he spent six further years in the #2 spot, calling a divisional round game every January from 2001-06.

Enberg retired from the NFL with 491 play-by-play appearances, a figure that trailed four men (Dick Stockton, Don Criqui, Charlie Jones and Pat Summerall); Al Michaels has since passed them all.

At NBC, Enberg also drew a handful of Olympic assignments on basketball, gymnastics, and as a studio host; he covered several dozen NBA games as well, including the All-Star Game from 1992-94. He also handled play-by-play duties for close to 50 MLB games, voicing the American League Championship Series in 1979 and the National League set two years later.

From 1978 to 2000, Enberg manned NBC's Centre Court broadcast booth at Wimbledon and the French Open, working alongside Bud Collins (and later John McEnroe and Mary Carillo). While at CBS, he spent 12 years on the US Open, joining ESPN for the other three majors from 2004-11.

In 2010, Enberg made a return to baseball, stepping into the broadcast booth alongside Mark Grant for about three-fourths of the season. That arrangement lasted through 2016.

The media center at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion is named in Enberg's honor; with Curt Gowdy, he is one of two men to win the broadcasting honors of the football, basketball and baseball halls of fame.

Enberg was a nine-time pick for National Sportscaster of the Year by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association, which inducted him into its hall of fame in 1996. He won 13 Sports Emmys, including the inaugural award for outstanding play-by-play in 1993, and earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Announcer Milestones From The Fourth Quarter Of 2017

(Not actually me, but it could be.)
Licensed under CC BY-NC 2.5.
Cycling through another round of biweekly database updates, I note that we haven't given some milestones their due recently, either on the blog or on Twitter. So without further ado, here are a couple of handfuls of updates on the vital statistics of several announcers, teams and networks. They're presented in chronological order.

(Standard disclaimer: Announcer totals contained herein come from the lists maintained at The 506 Forums (free registration required to view). As always, you can see the top 16 in each category on our TV databases page.)

October 4 - When the puck drops on the NHL's centennial season, Mike Emrick becomes the first American announcer to handle 900 play-by-play broadcasts for that league on national television. The broadcast pulled him within 71 games of former partner Bill Clement for the most in (American) NHL history.

As of this post (December 17), you could combine the totals of the next five active play-by-play announcers and you'd still be short of Emrick's 910 games; that math also counts Sam Rosen as "active" based strictly on their local work, as his last national gig outside of simulcasts was on the network then called VS. in 2011.

October 17 - The NBA's season opener gets right to work rewriting the record books, as Kevin Harlan's 671st national telecasts pushes him past the number we have confirmed for Doug Collins. By that measure, Harlan is fifth all-time; in truth, he's probably not there quite yet. 

(Collins worked for TNT in the early 1990s, which is one of the eras where the listings I'm working off of are not quite complete. Based on the confirmations posted to The506 Forums and the interpolations of the late John Moynihan, his final total is somewhere in the 690s, which puts Harlan on track to get there around the All-Star break.)

October 21 - Scott Oake becomes the seventh documented announcer to call 1,000 NHL games in Canada, and the first to do so as a host and/or rinkside reporter, with the Wild-Flames matchup from Calgary.

The figures for Ron MacLean merit, at the least, an honorable mention here because of the way records were kept as the role of the Hockey Night In Canada host evolved. 

From 1957 until the mid-1990s, each game had its own host that handled player interviews and between-periods segments; this person is credited on each game broadcast. In about 1996, CBC shifted to having a singular central studio for all of its games: even though the studio is in Toronto, which often hosts one of the games, that led to the introduction of a second person to do interviews, which is the one credited for those games.

After racking up more than 500 games in the older role, MacLean shifted into the studio in the mid-90s. If you count his time as host, often on the order of 50 or 60 games a year, he'd be well beyond Oake and into Bob Cole territory (see Dec. 5 below).

In each of our other databases, studio hosts aren't recorded; however, the three-act structure of a hockey game means that the intermission host gets more face time than the halftime host in basketball or football -- and that's especially true if a game goes beyond regulation, which can happen ad infinitum in the league's most visible games. So I'm not sure how to weigh those factors against one another.

(At a far more practical level, I don't have record of who the studio hosts were on a night-by-night basis beginning in 1996-97, so I can't properly credit them even if that route makes sense.)

November 1 - Mike Breen's call of the Rockets-Knicks game makes him the second person in NBA history to do play-by-play of 750 nationally-televised games, trailing only Marv Albert

Breen's average is in the neighborhood of 50 games a year, which would put him on pace to catch Albert's current mark (1,014 games) in the 2022-23 season. Of course, that's subject to the small matter that Albert is still an active NBA broadcaster doing about 40 games a year, but that in turn is subject to the fact that Albert turned 76½ last Tuesday. (Happy half-birthday, Marv.) Breen is 56.

Aside from Breen and Albert, Hubie Brown is the only person confirmed to have called 750 NBA games on national TV. Brown has 964 games under his belt. Craig Sager probably joins them: I have 746 sideline appearances for the man they called "America's sideline reporter," but that doesn't include courtside data for much of the 2006-07 or 2007-08 seasons, which means his total is more likely in the 800 range.

December 5 - The Rangers-Penguins affair from Pittsburgh marked the 800th time that the Broadway Blueshirts showed up on American national television. Only the Red Wings (870) and Flyers (829) have more such games.

(The Canadiens got their 500th American appearance on December 16, but I'm not giving that a full entry here because Canadian NHL telecasts have their own listings.)

December 8 - A Celtics-Spurs telecast from San Antonio is the 1,500th NBA game on record for ESPN. That figure includes 102 games from the cable network's first NBA contract (1982-84), but not the 60 games that have gotten shunted to other ESPN networks since 2002.

(For purposes of comparison, TNT's 2,500th game was Game 5 of the 2017 Eastern Conference Final; ABC's Christmas slate will start with game number 692 overall for them and game number 489 under the modern set of contracts.)

December 9 - Bob Cole, Canada's dean of hockey broadcasters, works his 1,700th NHL telecast as the Jets face the Lightning in Tampa. No other announcer in our five databases can boast even three-fourths of Cole's total, and the one that comes closest—Dick Irvin—retired in 1999.

December 11 - Lisa Salters becomes the 10th person to handle the sidelines for 100 NFL games when she works the Patriots-Dolphins Monday Night game for ESPN. (She also makes a lot of us wish we were in Miami in December, but that's beside the point.)

December 17 - The Vancouver Canucks become the first NHL expansion team to reach the national airwaves 1,000 times in Canada. They would likely prefer not to discuss the result of that game.

...and with that, we've caught back up.

In addition to the Kevin Harlan eclipse of Doug Collins mentioned earlier, the next several weeks figure to bring milestones for Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts, Greg Gumbel, Joe Buck and Troy Aikman. Reggie Miller, Mark Jackson, Hubie Brown; Mike Emrick, Pierre McGuire and Ed Olczyk; and Jim Hughson, Oake, Greg Millen, John Garrett and Paul Romanuk, should be on tap in the new year as well. 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

A (Proverbial) NFL Quarter-Century Of Kevin Harlan, And Other Stories

(Standard disclaimer: These announcer totals come from the lists maintained at The 506 Forums (free registration required to view); in this post, we're working with data posted by John Moynihan and Tim Brulia. And as always, you can see the top 16 in each category on our TV databases page.)

(CBS file photo)
Barring the unexpected, Kevin Harlan will become the seventh man to handle play-by-play duties for 400 NFL telecasts—the equivalent of 25 full seasons for an NFL team since 1978—when the Broncos and Raiders kick off in Oakland at 4:25 p.m. EST this afternoon.

The son of Bob Harlan, who spent 19 years as chief operating officer of the Green Bay Packers, Kevin made his NFL debut alongside Joe Namath on an NBC telecast of a Patriots-Colts game in week 1 of the 1991 season while Tom Hammond worked the track and field world championships in Japan.

Harlan took on his first regular NFL national gig in 1994, moving to Fox as that network took on NFC rights. His first NFC game brought the Milwaukee native back to Wisconsin for a Vikings-Packers season opener on Labor Day weekend. After working 65 games at Fox (63 of those with Jerry Glanville) in a four-year span, he jumped ship to CBS in 1998.

In almost 20 seasons with CBS, Harlan has worked with 11 different partners: his most common sidekick, Rich Gannon, will join him for the 112th time this afternoon. Solomon Wilcots (84 games), Randy Cross (71), Glanville and Sam Wyche (35) round out his most common partners.

Harlan's work has taken him to each of the 32 NFL markets that have hosted a team since 2015, including visits to both the Rams and Chargers since their westerly moves of the past two years. While he made two visits to Anaheim Stadium for the Rams' final season there in 1994, he did not catch the Raiders at the L.A. Coliseum; despite working for the network that broadcast the opposite conference, he did get a trip to Memphis for a Washington-Tennessee game in 1997.

In addition to the 33 aforementioned U.S. markets, Harlan has gone abroad three times, once to Toronto (Dolphins-Bills in 2008) and twice to London (Bills-Jaguars in 2015 and Giants-Rams last season). He also handled play-by-play for the most recent successful drop-kick in NFL history, a Doug Flutie extra-point try on New Year's Day 2006 that I remember way too well for it to have been almost 12 years ago.

Harlan started his broadcasting career in Kansas City, spending two years as the voice of the NBA's Kings at the tail end of their run in that city. His resume also includes nine years with the Kansas City Chiefs and nine with the Minnesota Timberwolves in addition to work with the universities of Kansas (his alma mater) and Missouri.

Given that background, it seems apropos that Harlan has covered more Chiefs games (58) than any other franchise in his first 399 appearances. His 29 visits to KC are seven more than his second-most-frequent destination, Cleveland; spanning both home and road games, he's handled the Raiders and Oilers/Titans 46 times each.

Harlan also serves as the number-two voice of the NBA on TNT, a network he's worked with since 1997: his 676 NBA broadcasts are probably the sixth-most in history until he catches Doug Collins later this season. Only Marv Albert and Mike Breen have done more network NBA play-by-play.

Since 2010, Harlan has handled the radio broadcast of Monday Night Football on Westwood One, usually working alongside Boomer Esiason. Last season, that capacity enabled him to deliver the blow-by-blow account of a field intruder in a Rams-49ers game. It's also put him on the radio call of the last seven Super Bowls.

Harlan is the first play-by-play announcer to reach 400 NFL broadcasts without working a playoff game; Ian Eagle, whose divisional-round assignment for CBS two years ago was his 302nd NFL game, is the only other announcer to get as far as 300 reps without appearing in the postseason. With Eagle off that list, the runner-up in that category is now Sam Rosen with 270 games.

If you can name the other six play-by-play men to work 400 games, you win nothing: the list is available anytime on our TV databases page. But for the sake of completeness, here are the six previous quadricentennials:
  • Charlie Jones: Sept. 22, 1991 -- Browns-Giants for NBC with Todd Christensen
  • Don Criqui: Sept. 15, 1996 -- Chiefs-Seahawks for NBC with Beasley Reece
  • Pat Summerall: Dec. 29, 1996 -- Eagles-49ers (wild-card game) for Fox with John Madden
  • Dick Stockton: Oct. 3, 2004 -- Eagles-Bears for Fox with Daryl Johnston and Tony Siragusa
  • Dick Enberg: Oct. 31, 2004 -- Ravens-Eagles for CBS with Dan Dierdorf and sideline reporter Armen Keteyian
  • Al Michaels: Sept. 17, 2006 -- Washington-Dallas for NBC with John Madden and sideline reporter Andrea Kremer.
Additionally, four color commentators (Madden, Dierdorf, Phil Simms and Paul Maguire) have gotten to 400 games and Pam Oliver reached that plateau on the sidelines on October 29. Finally, Frank Gifford got to 400 games with a decade to spare, but did so by splitting time between color and play-by-play.

We'll likely get to do this again next November for Kenny Albert: everyone else is at least two years away from 400, although Dan Fouts should get to 300 early in 2018.

Some other milestones of note so far in the 2017 NFL season, listed chronologically...
  • In the season opener, Cris Collinsworth notched his 315th color-commentary appearance, sliding past Gifford for sixth on that list.
  • Three days later, Greg Gumbel's 334th game on play-by-play matched him with Curt Gowdy for the ninth-most ever; Gumbel would pass Gowdy on Sept. 17. Jim Nantz caught Gowdy with Bengals-Packers on Sept. 24 and passed him with the Bears-Packers Thursday night game the following week.
  • Daryl Johnston has risen from 10th to eighth on the color-commentary list, passing Bob Trumpy with Falcons-Lions on Sept. 24 and Joe Theismann with Panthers-Buccaneers on Oct. 29. With six weeks left in the season, Johnston looks to be on pace to catch Gifford as well in 2017.
  • Laura Okmin passed Bonnie Bernstein for fifth on the sideline-reporter list with her 142nd game, the Rams-Cowboys tilt at JerryWorld on the opening day of the fiscal fourth quarter. Okmin is slated for her 150th sideline appearance on Sunday as she joins Johnston and Chris Myers in Indianapolis. She's within a year's work of passing Suzy Kolber and Armen Keteyian for third in that category.
  • With Nantz pulling double duty by calling Thursday Night Football on some CBS doubleheader weeks, he also caught Gumbel on Oct. 5. The Tiffany network's top two game-callers traded the spot for several weeks before Nantz pulled ahead for good on Oct. 22.
  • Gannon worked his 200th game as a color analyst on Oct. 15 in Oakland. While 200 games isn't anything to sneeze at, having been achieved about once a year since the merger, the fact that Gannon is sixth among active analysts highlights the drop-off in experience after Collinsworth, Fouts, Johnston and Troy Aikman
  • As mentioned above, Oliver worked her 400th sideline on the last Sunday in October. The undisputed queen of NFL sideline reports, Oliver has a lead of almost 10 years' worth of games (depending on how one counts the playoffs) over second-place Michele Tafoya.
  • Speaking of the sideline, Tracy Wolfson and Jennifer Hale each reached their 100-game plateau in Week 9. Wolfson got there with Bills-Jets on Thursday, Nov. 2; while Hale matched the total three days later, Wolfson would pull ahead again thanks to the same Thursday-Saturday double duty that helped Nantz above.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Albert/Breen/Harlan/Stockton Sports Theater 3000

Having covered the NHL database already, tonight we'll take a look at updates to the database of every known regular-season and postseason NBA telecast.

(Standard disclaimer: These announcer totals come from the lists maintained at The 506 Forums (free registration required to view); in this post, we're working with data posted by John Moynihan and Tim Brulia. And as always, you can see the top 16 in each category on our TV databases page.)

While I'm not convinced we have every NBA game ever in the list and there are still a sizable number of gaps (some 2.4 percent of the announcer data is uncertain), the data we have is ... what we have. Moreover, while I'm not convinced all of the guesses we have are correct, I do think it's fair to estimate off them -- for example, if a hypothetical network has a dozen doubleheaders over the course of a season, their lead and no. 2 crews probably worked about 12 games each that year.

Because of that uncertainty, however, I maintain two separate NBA lists: one that counts only the confirmed games and one that includes the hypotheses of Moynihan's original notes.

Regardless of your counting method, Monday night's Wizards-Pistons game on TNT is the 7,500th in the NBA database. Among those 7,500 games, 2,457 have come on TNT and another 1,456 on ESPN. NBC, the top-ranked broadcast network, has shown 967 tilts -- and I feel really old when I realize that "Roundball Rock" hasn't been on TV in almost five-eighths of my lifetime.

It probably won't surprise most of you to learn that the three most-televised teams are the Lakers, Celtics and Knicks, nor that Marv Albert checks in as the dean of NBA broadcasters with 995 appearances (994 on play-by-play, plus a color appearance alongside Chris Schenkel on ABC for a Knicks-Rockets game in 1973).

The top three PBP voices of all-time are currently active in the people of Albert, Mike Breen and Kevin Harlan; Dick Stockton, who may not have officially retired but hasn't appeared since 2015, is fourth. As of the end of the regular season tonight, those four announcers have handled a total of exactly 3,000 games.

Albert enters the playoffs five games and six PBP appearances shy of 1,000, a mark that only Bill Clement has reached on a single sport in the United States. Breen needs 21 games to reach 750.

On the analyst side, all-time leader Hubie Brown is two confirmed games shy of 950 and 25 total appearances, including guesses, away from 1000. Doug Collins follows him at 666 and 690 respectively. Jeff Van Gundy, the leader among those analysts whose careers started since the uncertain announcer data ends in 1993, is third overall with 545.

Reggie Miller needs eight more games to reach 400, all on color commentary, and 10 more to tie his sister Cheryl for the 13th-most appearances in league history. Mark Jackson enters the playoffs with 387 broadcasts, five behind Miller.

Following the passing of Craig Sager in December, David Aldridge's 262 confirmed broadcasts make him the longest-tenured sideline reporter in the playoffs, although he trails Doris Burke by 22 games if you include Burke's color work. Since we're missing a lot of sideline reporters from the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons, both individuals may well be shorted 40 games or so, but again ... we have what we have.

The regular season concludes tonight, leaving anywhere from 60 to 105 national telecasts in the playoffs that begin Saturday on ESPN, ABC, TNT and NBA TV.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Three HNIC Analysts Simultaneously Call Milestone Games

This round of announcer database updates involves a lot of hockey, because most of the announcer database updates I make between January and April involve hockey. So we start this post with arguably the two most iconic songs in televised hockey, one for each side of the 49th parallel.

(Standard disclaimer: These announcer totals come from the lists maintained at The 506 Forums (free registration required to view); in this post, we're working with data posted by Tim Brulia. And as always, you can see the top 16 in each category on our TV databases page.)

North of the border, CBC has not only showed more network hockey than any of its competition, but it has still aired more than half of the 9,190 games in the database. In the U.S., the network currently known as NBCSN has that lead, but Disney still comes out ahead thanks to more than 1,100 games on each of ESPN and ESPN2.

A trio of Sportsnet analysts reached career milestones last Saturday. Working Maple Leafs-Red Wings in CBC's last telecast from Joe Louis Arena, Craig Simpson became the fourth color man to work 650 network games; he trails only Dick Irvin, Harry Neale and Greg Millen.

In Tampa, Garry Galley handled color for the 350th time, becoming the 10th analyst to reach that milestone and 24th commentator across all three tracked positions.

Millen, meanwhile, was in Winnipeg handling the Senators-Jets tilt alongside R.J. Broadhead. That was Millen's 711th appearance, all on color. Seven hundred eleven is not at all a round number; it's really rather straight. Why, you ask, is this important?

Brian McFarlane is the author of more than 90 books about hockey and the honorary president of the Society for International Hockey Research. He's sort of a big deal. Over a 27-year career from 1964-91, McFarlane covered 710 games on Hockey Night in Canada (and got banned from one NHL press box in the process). Millen's 711th game moved him past McFarlane into ninth place on the all-time Canadian list.

And since I assume I'm not the only person whose mind went off on this tangent, there appear to be three 7-Elevens in Winnipeg.

Slightly farther down the list of color commentators, Pierre McGuire appeared on Canadian national television for the 517th time on Feb. 25 when Sportsnet picked up the NBC broadcast of the Flyers-Penguins Stadium Series game at Heinz Field. That slid him past Glenn Healy for the fifth-most color appearances on Canadian networks.

Finally, Jim Hughson continues his ascent up the leaderboard; with his 1,074th game on Feb. 11, he passed Harry Neale for the third-most appearances in any capacity.

With that lame 49th-parallel allusion behind us, we can move ahead to the American commentator listings. At some level, these are easier, with an eight-man Mount Rushmore (Gary Thorne and Bill Clement; Mike Emrick, Ed Olczyk and McGuire; Dave Strader, Brian Engblom and Darren Pang) that's head and shoulders above the field: a gap of almost 250 appearances separates eighth-place Olczyk and ninth-place Dan Kelly.

(If obvious wordplay about natural landmarks bothers you ... this is the wrong blog.)

A native of Wabash County, Indiana, Emrick is the dean of American NHL play-by-play men, at least at the national level, with a career that started in 1973 in Port Huron, Michigan. His first national work on the NHL came on March 29, 1987, a Bruins-Blackhawks tilt from Chicago Stadium.

Almost 30 years later, Emrick needs 94 more games to match his inaugural partner, Bill Clement, for the most network telecasts in U.S. TV history. Only Marv Albert and Hubie Brown have more in a single sport; more on that to come later. Emrick's 900th game was the Blackhawks-Wild game on Feb. 8; he ends play April 5 with 907 telecasts, and as NBC's lead voice will probably pick up 20 or so more during the playoffs.

Thanks to a pair of rinkside-reporter gigs for ESPN in 2002 and 2003, Olczyk's overall total runs two games ahead of his analyst figure; his 600th network game was Feb. 12 (Red Wings-Wild), 10 days before his 600th analyst appearance on Feb. 22.

McGuire, unburdened by a team contract, has widened his lead over Olczyk by 16 games this year; he'll call his 50th game of 2016-17 with the season-ending Capitals-Bruins tilt on Sunday. McGuire took the sixth overall spot from Pang on March 29, the 30th anniversary of Emrick's ESPN debut.

Sunday, April 2 marked the point at which one-third of American network NHL telecasts have come under the NBC/OLN/Versus deals inked after the lockout. This does not include 158 regular-season games on HDNet (now AXS TV) from 2005-08.

The cable end of that contract (NBC, I mean) celebrated a pair of milestones this spring as well. A pair of regional telecasts on the final day of February were the 1499th and 1500th NHL games on that channel under three different names, with a Hurricanes-Islanders game on March 13 marking the point at which NBCSN has aired one-fourth of all NHL telecasts in the log.

On March 12, the NBC Sports Group and Comcast aired their 2000th NHL game, a Wild-Blackhawks matchup from Chicago. For purposes of this calculation, games on USA since 2015 count, as do all games on NBC and NBCSN from those networks' inception; however, USA's run as the league's cable partner from 1979-85 does not count since it was not in either conglomerate's portfolio at that point.

Finally, the Feb. 6 Blues-Flyers game was the 6,000th game in the American log.

The NHL playoffs begin next week, with somewhere between 60 and 105 games all set for national telecasts on both sides of the border.

Later this week, we'll take a look at milestones in the NBA and Major League Baseball. For NFL reading, Jeff Haggar's history of #1 analyst demotions from 2013 at Classic TV Sports seems ... shall we say ... topical.