On Tuesday night, the NHL regular season began, and we got our first glimpse of ESPN’s return to hockey broadcasts, as well as the introduction of the expansion Seattle Kraken. On Wednesday, the NHL’s other new broadcast partner, TNT, kicked off its regular season with a game between the Rangers and the Capitals.
The presence of the Great One, Wayne Gretzky, is headlining TNT’s NHL coverage in studio, and for their first night, Turner called out their biggest star from Inside the NBA to join the crew, as avid hockey fan Charles Barkley joined the men at the desk. Despite some crossover, Barkley brought his typical humorous enthusiasm to the desk, assisting the new NHL on TNT staff in setting a considerably lighter tone than viewers were used to from NBC’s hockey coverage.
The dug out some old clips of its analysts, including a rare lowlight for Gretzky, with Barkley berating the Great One for being beaten up by “a man with a perm” in a fight.
Later in the broadcast, during the intermission break, Gretzky got his revenge on Chuck, as they gave Barkley some goalie gear and forced him to stop five shots from Wayne, which went about as well as you’d expect.
Barkley may or may not have seen any of the pucks, with the only “stop” being a puck that fell behind him but did not reach the goal line. If Chuck was wondering if he made the wrong decision by choosing basketball over hockey, this helps to dispel that thought, and when the NBA season begins next week, he’ll be back on a more familiar set of objectives, with hockey goals replaced by basketball hoops.