Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky leaves fans in stitches after issuing a BRUTAL on-air put-down to Paul Bissonnette

TNT viewers upset over Inside the NBA’s imminent demise can take solace in the network’s equally light-hearted hockey-centric sister program.

Case in point: Monday’s post-game show following the Dallas Stars’ dramatic Game 3 win over the Edmonton Oilers in the NHL’s Western Conference Finals.

Asked which player’s replica jersey he’d be willing to buy, retired NHL journeyman and TNT co-host Paul Bissonnette offered up New York Rangers netminder, Igor Shesterkin.

Without missing a beat, co-host Wayne Gretzky shot back: ‘Because, you know why? You’re tied in goals.’

The mustachioed Bissonnette could only smirk as the TNT studio erupted in laughter, although to be fair, he recorded seven goals in his forgettable six NHL seasons, which is seven more than Shesterkin… and 887 behind Gretzky.

Wayne Gretzky (left) laughs at Paul Bissonnette’s expense during the TNT post-game show 

Pictured, from left: Gretzky, Bissonnette, Liam McHugh, Anson Carter and Henrik Lundqvist

Pictured, from left: Gretzky, Bissonnette, Liam McHugh, Anson Carter and Henrik Lundqvist 

‘This is my favorite show,’ one fan wrote on X.

‘Between this and [former NHL defenseman and current TNT co-host Keith] Yandle cooking him a few games ago, Biz is having a rough time and every NHL fan is here for it,’ another added.

Another X user likened TNT’s NHL studio show to Inside the NBA: ‘TNT really got the best NBA & NHL talk shows, they just let them have fun on camera and it’s so much better.’

Unfortunately for fans, that may not be the case much longer.  

Last week it emerged that the NBA was formalizing written contracts with ESPN, NBC and Amazon over new TV deals worth a combined $7.4billion per year.

According to Sports Business Journal, negotiations with all three companies were entering the ‘final stage’ in what was a massive blow for TNT and their long-running show ‘Inside the NBA’.

Barkley (left) convinced his golf buddy, Gretzky (right), to join TNT's NHL studio show in 2021

Barkley (left) convinced his golf buddy, Gretzky (right), to join TNT’s NHL studio show in 2021

However, there may still be life in the show yet as NBA Commissioner Adam Silver offered TNT a glimmer of hope.

Outside of Thursday’s White House state dinner in Washington D.C., Commissioner Silver said: ‘We’re all still talking. Who knows how it’s going to work out?’

It was reported that ESPN will pay $2.8b per year for the league’s most prized set of games, including the NBA finals, a conference final, weekly primetime clashes and the WNBA.

NBC, meanwhile, is set to fork out $2.6b annually for the ‘B’ package, which would likely include a show called ‘Basketball Night in America’, airing on Sunday evenings after the NFL season.

According to SBJ, NBC would also secure a conference semifinals, a conference final and two primetime slots per week.

Amazon’s deal – said to be worth up to $2bn – would come with the In-Season Tournaments, first-round playoff games and the WNBA.

TNT is currently wrapping up its third season of NHL coverage, which has benefitted from Gretzky’s recognizable name.

And Gretzky’s presence on the show might be owed to Barkley, his long-time golf buddy, who pitched the NHL’s all-time leading scorer on becoming an in-studio co-host, like himself.

‘Charles Barkley is a good friend and he called me every single day and said, ‘This will be fun for you,’ and ultimately I decided OK this this something I gotta try and I’m really looking forward to it,’ Gretzky told Toronto radio station Sportsnet 590 The Fan in 2021.