Two-time Emmy Award-winning producer Mark Preisler thought he would stay at ESPN for the rest of his career. Then the NHL Network made him an offer he could not refuse.
Preisler this month changed his professional address from Bristol, Conn., to Toronto, where the hockey network is headquartered. He is executive producer of the NHL Network U.S. and a creative consultant with NHL Network Canada.
Just as important to him is the fact that he and his wife, Andrea, and their 4-year-old daughter, Franesca, are moving to Western New York.
Preisler grew up in Snyder and graduated from Nichols School in 1986. After college at Franklin and Marshall, he worked for a Cincinnati TV station, then moved back here for a job at WIVB Channel 4, where he was executive producer of the 11 p.m. newscast. He moved to ESPN in 2000, and for the past two years was senior coordinating producer for "Baseball Tonight."
Preisler said he could have stayed at ESPN "for the rest of my life. I could have been very comfortable. But my professional growth is just as important to me. I finally get to go and run something on my own. ESPN is the greatest place in the world to work, but I was always under their umbrella."
With the NHL Network, Preisler will be involved in all aspects of programming and production, including coverage of special events such as next week's All-Star Game.
"Our goal is to put this network beyond the level of the NFL Network, or MLB Network. We have a long way to go, but we'll get there. We have the full support of the league"
Preisler says the NHL Network is available in 40 million homes in the U.S.
"To me this network has the potential for much greater impact than the NFL or MLB Network, simply because the NHL is not covered [by other broadcast media] the way those sports are. The potential for this network is enormous as the sport continues to grow."
Preisler played hockey in Amherst when he was growing up. He rooted for the Sabres and still attends "tons of" their games.
In 2010 Preisler co-authored a book with ESPN NFL analyst Mark Schlereth called "Ready, Set, Play!," a collection of reminiscences by various sports figures about parent-child bonding through sports. Jim Kelly was one of the featured athletes. Preisler wrote in the book about getting close to his daughter through the runs they take together, an activity they still share.
"This [move] is an opportunity to bring my family back to Buffalo," he said. "It's very important to have my daughter grow up near her grandparents."
ESPN is a large corporation and it has occasionally been in the news for some incidents that were not family friendly. Former college football announcer Ron Franklin sued the network this week for "wrongful termination" after he was fired for a contentious conversation with a female colleague in which he allegedly referred to her as "sweet baby."
Sometimes the network seems to make news as well as cover it. LeBron James' "The Decision" comes to mind.
Preisler said people at ESPN are aware of what its detractors say, but sometimes the critics distort things.
"Parts of the media latch onto the negative [aspects] because it makes a better story," he said. "Those types of things happen everywhere. When you're on top, the best in the business, people are shooting for you.
"It was a terrific place to work, and they're the best in the business," he said.
Green Bay goof
This week's "best rebound" award goes to the Green Bay Press-Gazette, which ran a horrifying typo on Monday after the Packers' playoff win. The paper's front-page headline said, "On to Chicaco."
The paper kept its composure when it ran a correction that ended with: "In the event the Packers win Sunday and advance to the Super Bowl, we'll spell the host city of Dallas correctly."