ESPN president John Skipper said he regretted being unable to secure NHL broadcast rights in a recent interview with Hollywood Reporter.

“I regret not being able to get hockey back. We made a strong bid for it last time [in 2011]. But the NHL felt well served by NBC. So that’s kind of something you have to respect, that they wanted to stay with the incumbents,” Skipper told Hollywood Reporter’s Marisa Guthrie.

After the 2004-05 lockout, ESPN opted out of a two-year deal with the NHL, leaving the league without a cable partner. In 2005, Comcast paid $70 million a year for three years to air NHL games on the Outdoor Living Network, renamed Versus in 2006. In 2011, Comcast acquired a majority share of NBC/Universal. As a result, NBC Sports and Versus relaunched as the NBC Sports Network. The same year, the NHL decided to stick with NBC Sports Group and signed an exclusive 10-year contract worth $2 billion.

You can read the rest of the interview here, in which Skipper speaks about Bill Simmons and Keith Olbermann’s possible return.

[Featured photo via World Soccer Talk]