This statement was just released by ESPN America:
““Unfortunately, the NHL will not be part of the programming schedule on ESPN and ESPN America in the UK, Ireland or Nordic countries this season.
ESPN spoke to the NHL and their rights holders about continuing a partnership in these regions but we could not reach an agreement that worked for everyone.
We wish the National Hockey League and its new partners all the best while we remain in active discussions with them about coverage in many other parts of Europe.
Our channels will continue to provide a wide range of live sport, award-winning documentaries, original news & chat shows, and more.”
Judging by this, each of the countries will have a regional sports channel showing the NHL this year. For the UK the rights have been sold to Premier Sports and in the Czech Republic to Nova Sports. This suggests that channels like Viasat or Nelonen Pro might be getting NHL on the screens in the Nordics.
However, ESPN America has only pulled out from the Nordics, UK and Ireland, it does not mean that it wouldn’t pick up the broadcast for other European countries where a deal is not in place as of yet.
There is still no update as to whether GameCenter Live will be switched off, or if it will remain accessible to viewers in Europe.
Though ESPN America has pulled out, I would argue that in benefit of the sport it would be better to have the games on as many channels as possible, however, I can only guess that channels that have purchased the rights have demanded these on an exclusive basis to ensure that they can snag up as big of a share of the market as possible.