1. Sports
  2. /
  3. Lightning

As Stanley Cup final moves to Montreal, NBC Sports’ production team stays in Tampa

Travel restrictions to Canada, and quarantining in Tampa, prevented the national TV rightsholder from sending a full team to Montreal.
NBC Sports' Kathryn Tappen, left, Eddie Olczyk, center, and Brian Boucher, right, are pictured in the studio during a game in 2018.
NBC Sports' Kathryn Tappen, left, Eddie Olczyk, center, and Brian Boucher, right, are pictured in the studio during a game in 2018. [ NBC Sports Group ]
Published Jul. 2
Updated Jul. 2

TAMPA — As NBC Sports broadcasts the next two games of the Stanley Cup final between the Lightning and Canadiens from Montreal, much of the production’s heavy lifting will be done from trailers stationed at the players parking lot of Amalie Arena.

Travel to and from Canada is still very restricted because of the coronavirus, and the NHL and the Canadian government worked to allow some parts of the league’s U.S. TV rights holder to travel across the border to cover the final.

Approximately 30 to 35 members of NBC’s broadcast crew traveled to Montreal, including its announcing team and most of its camera crew. But that’s a fraction of the 80 people who would typically be on site for a broadcast or the 100-plus staffers who would be there in a normal playoff year.

Among those who stayed in Tampa are the broadcast’s producer and director, who will communicate with the crew in Montreal from production trucks at Amalie Arena.

The broadcast will be produced mostly from Tampa, with the exception of some graphics that will be added at NBC’s headquarters in Stamford, Conn., something NBC has been doing in large part due to the pandemic to avoid overcrowding in the trailers.

Everyone who is traveling back and forth has had to quarantine when not at the arena, even in Tampa, where there are no longer restrictions.

“To put all of our crew through that was just logistically going to be a nightmare for us, to be honest with you,” NBC Sports coordinating producer John McGuinness said. “There’s a lot of red tape that our announcers have to go through. There’s quarantining. Even in Tampa, they’re not allowed out of their hotel rooms.”

NBC will have its own camera feeds in Montreal but will also rely on Canadian rights holders Sportsnet (English) and TVA (French) for additional feeds. NBC is providing the Canadian networks supplemental feeds for the games in Tampa.

Still, this is a notable step forward. For most of the past year, play-by-play announcers and analysts have called games remotely. Their camera angles for games have been limited to the feeds they’re able to get, so this Cup final setup will offer them a full, broader picture of the ice.

This is NBC’s last hurrah as the U.S. TV rights holder. NHL games go to ESPN and Turner Sports next season on a seven-year deal.

Contact Eduardo A. Encina at Follow @EddieintheYard.

• • •

Sign up for Lightning Strikes, a weekly newsletter from Bolts beat writer Eduardo A. Encina that brings you closer to the ice.

Never miss out on the latest with the Bucs, Rays, Lightning, Florida college sports and more. Follow our Tampa Bay Times sports team on Twitter and Facebook.