ESPN already struggled to focus on Hockey in the eyes of some. As their looming layoffs finally came to fruition on Wednesday, however, it appeared the company was ready to move on from the sport altogether. Even though the NHL playoffs are raging on, the struggling media company cut significant members of their team covering hockey, signaling the demise of one of the Big 4 sports in the company's eyes.

Saying goodbye to well-known personalities

As the news of layoffs slowly began to drip on Wednesday morning, most noticed that hockey personalities were getting the boot more than other staff members.

ESPN fired Joe McDonald, who has been focusing on the NHL, but has also covered the MLB and NFL for the company. Columnist Scott Burnside will no longer be with the company after 13 years. Fellow columnist Pierre LeBrun is also out the door after nine years, though he has been doing work with other companies as well in recent years.

For those keeping track at home, that's most of the staff that comprised mainstream hockey coverage for ESPN. The timing of the layoffs coincided more with quarterly reports than the demands of the sports world, but it still couldn't be worse, as the NHL playoffs begin their second round on Wednesday night. A skeleton staff will now have to cover the rest of the postseason - if anybody covers the rest of the postseason at all for the network.

Massive layoffs

There had been speculation for some time that layoffs were coming to ESPN. The NHL department was always going to be in danger in that scenario - the company never viewed hockey as a particularly profitable sport and it's the only major sport the company didn't televise professional games for. A slow trickle of news about the layoffs came on Wednesday and they're still coming as the day gets later.

Some of the most notable names outside of the NHL staff that have been laid off so far include SportsCenter anchor Jay Crawford, MLB writer Jayson Stark (who has spent the last 17 years with the company), radio host Danny Kanell, college basketball writers Eamonn Brennan and C.L. Brown, college football reporter Brett McMurphy, MLB analyst Jim Bowden, college basketball reporter Dana O'Neil, and NFL reporter Ed Werder. It is certainly a dark day for ESPN, but it is also a dark day for sports journalists altogether, as the industry dives into an era where even jobs at the entertainment leader are no longer safe.