Now that the NHL has new broadcast partners, working with TNT and ESPN, many wondered whether Charles Barkley would be a part of the pre and post-game crew. We now have our answer as Turner announced Wednesday afternoon that the funny basketball analyst on Inside the NBA will be joining TNT’s first night of its regular-season package pre-game show, NHL on TNT Face Off.
Barkley, who has talked about his passion for hockey on both NBA and NHL broadcasts, played a key role in bringing Wayne Gretzky to Turner. The entire pre-game show will be commercial free.
Outside of Barkley, the crew will consist of Gretzky, Anson Carter, Rick Tocchet, Paul Bissonnette and host Liam McHugh. Both McHugh and Carter (both who come over from NBC) talk about the difference between NBC’s pre-game show and how TNT’s will differ.
“In general, the idea was we had a show, we had a format,” McHugh said. "We would go away from that format on occasion. But we would also at times, there were times where maybe the conversation could have drifted a little bit further, been, in my opinion, a little more entertaining and a little bit less about the Xs and Os of the hockey game and a little bit more about the personalities and the people. I’m not saying that was always the case, but it definitely did occur.”
Cater added to McHugh's statement that if there is a compelling conversation going on, they would prioritize that over touching on each of their talking points the crew wants to cover.
“I think we noticed from the first game too. We had our rundown, we had five or six things that we were going to talk about, and we said on set, ‘If we get to the fifth or sixth thing, great, if we don’t, if we have this compelling conversation with the first two players we’re talking about, then so be it. We can always push that to later on in the post-game show or in the intermission.’ And some places, that isn’t the case, you have to hit every single thing on that rundown.”
The crew will be working out of TNT’s new state-of-the-art NHL studio in Atlanta before their first game of the night between the Rangers and Capitals at 6:30 and then concluding with the Chicago Blackhawks visiting the Avalanche in Game 2 of TNT’s debut doubleheader. It will be interesting to see how Barkley meshes with the rest of the crew.