ESPN returns to NHL after awarded 2016 World Cup TV rights

ESPN is getting back into broadcasting professional hockey after landing the U.S. rights for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

The NHL and NHL Players’ Association, who are overseeing the eight-team international tournament, jointly announced the decision Wednesday. ESPN was selected ahead of NBC Sports Group, which is in the midst of a 10-year contract to broadcast NHL regular-season and playoff games through 2020-21.

ESPN was the NHL’s U.S. broadcaster from 1992 through the league’s lockout that wiped out the entire 2004-05 season.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said ESPN was selected after NBC executives said they could encounter scheduling conflicts to broadcast the tournament which will be held in Toronto, and run from Sept. 17 to Oct. 1.

Rogers Sportsnet and French-language TVA Sports were awarded the Canadian broadcasting rights.