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ESPN Bungles NHL Draft Lottery Reveal

When ESPN reclaimed the rights to the NHL from NBC in March 2021, many wondered how the network would approach a sport it seemed to abandon after the lockout-canceled 2004-05 season.

Two years in, the answer to that question seems to be that it’s work in progress.

ESPN received widespread criticism Monday evening for appearing to ruin a crucial result in the NHL's draft lottery—a lottery that already had fans up in arms as the Blackhawks were crowned as an unpopular winner.

As the network went to commercial break after revealing picks Nos. 4–16, host and former NHL goalie Kevin Weekes said, "And there's our first change in the order, with Columbus dropping to third. So now Anaheim or Chicago will select first overall."

The problem, however, was that the order of picks one through three were not supposed to be revealed until after the break. Weekes had, in effect, spoiled the fact that the Blue Jackets would pick third.

In the aftermath of this slight anticlimax, the Blackhawks and Ducks were revealed as holding the first and second overall picks, respectively.

Needless to say, the gaffe was treated as anything but slight by NHL fans — especially with a generational prospect at stake in Connor Bedard of the Western Hockey League's Regina Pats.

Many added it to a long list of grievances against ESPN's hockey coverage.

Some Columbus fans took the snafu as an opportunity.

Many were simply confused.

Either way, as many reporters and fans alike pointed out, the coverage was a bad look for a league that hoped for a mutually beneficial partnership with the Worldwide Leader in Sports.