The NHL trade deadline has come and gone, finally we can get back to chatting about more important issues. No NHL issue will be more revered or critiqued this summer than the future of NHL hockey on TV. Last month it was reported that the NHL and NBC Sports/Versus were close to a deal. Things have done a bit of u-ey since then (thanks to the MillerCoors deal) and now the Sports Business Daily is reporting that Fox and Turner are entering the bidding war, which already includes ESPN. According to the Sports Business Daily, Fox is looking to bring sports programming to its cable channel FX. Meanwhile, Turner is looking to beef up its current sports package (NBA & NASCAR), as well as add sports programming to its TruTV cable channel, which will include NCAA Tournament games. Obviously having NHL games on TruTV isn’t going to win over any critics, but I could live with having games on FX or TNT. I have posted numerous times on my site that the NHL should ultimately go back to airing games on ESPN, mostly because of the channel’s promotional power and broader distribution. Now that Turner and Fox are involved, it will look even more impractical to re-up with Versus, which is in the least amount of homes of all the aforementioned networks. ESPN/ESPN2 are in over 100 million homes, FX is available in 96 million homes, TruTV is in 92 million homes, meanwhile Versus is only available in 76 million homes. Last time around the NHL just went with the highest bidder. This time they should focus on the bigger picture and look beyond the spreadsheets. I mean you just can’t put a monetary figure to how much ESPN has helped to restore the NBA’s image. Hockey is in a much better position than it was 6 years ago and it would be foolish to turn down the marketing/penetration strength of these other channels. Hopefully as we get closer to summer and the bidding war wages on, the NHL will come to its senses.