The NHL Network Awaits the Frenzy

NEW YORK, NY (June 29, 2010) – When the National Hockey League’s annual race to sign veteran talent commences on July 1, fans in the United States will be able to keep up with all the moves of free agency on NHL Network™ and NHL.com.

American hockey fans can watch TSN’s Free Agent Frenzy show on NHL Network and streamed live on NHL.com to follow all the signings and rumors during one of the most exciting days on the League’s calendar. The NHL on TSN: Free Agent Frenzy will be broadcast on NHL Network and streamed on NHL.com from 2-6 p.m. ET on Thursday, July 1.

Before throwing it to TSN in Toronto, NHL Network and NHL.com will carry NHL Live! The League’s daily satellite radio call-in show on Sirius XM, that is simulcast on NHL Network and streamed live on NHL.com each weekday from noon-2 p.m. ET, will be hosted by Don La Greca and E.J. Hradek live from the NHL Powered by Reebok store in Manhattan. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman will join Don and E.J. in studio as a special guest as the free-agency signing period officially begins at noon ET.

NHL Net Does Raising the Cup

NEW YORK (June 29, 2010) – One of the sporting world’s oldest and most distinguished trophies — The Stanley Cup — will be presented each weeknight beginning on Monday, July 5, on NHL Network™ U.S., the National Hockey League announced today. As a part of its summer programming line-up, the NHL Network will present 35 years of Stanley Cup Clinchers so fans can relive all the heroics, heartbreaking moments and magical memories.

Raising the Cup: 35 Years of Stanley Cup Clinchers 1975-2010, will air at 8:00 p.m. ET each weeknight through August 27. Stanley Cup Final clinching games will be shown in their entirety, including the full Stanley Cup presentations and post-game celebrations.

The Philadelphia Flyers have secured both first and last acts – one of exhilaration and one of disappointment — in this series that chronicles the pursuit of hockey’s holy grail. The Raising the Cup: 35 Years of Stanley Cup Clinchers series begins in 1975 as two modern-era expansion teams, the Flyers and Buffalo Sabres, meet for the first time in the Stanley Cup Final. The Flyers win the series in six games. Flash ahead 35-years to 2010 when the newly crowned Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks beat the Flyers in six games to capture their first Cup in nearly 50 years.

Throughout 35 years of clinchers, fans will have the opportunity to experience again the dynasties of the 1970s (Montreal Canadiens), 1980s (New York Islanders and Edmonton Oilers) and 1990s (Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings). The Raising the Cup series will take viewers on an emotional roller coaster ride of Game 7 overtimes, surprising contenders and historic ends to franchise droughts. From the tears of veteran players winning their first Stanley Cup in their last season to stellar rookie performances to the drive to defend the hardest trophy to win, this collection of Stanley Cup clinching games has something for everyone.

Fans also will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite game from each decade by logging onto http://www.nhl.com throughout the month. Top vote-getting games will receive encore presentations from August 23-27.

Raising the Cup: 35 Years of Stanley Cup Clinchers 1975-2010 Schedule

Day Year Visitor Home Game #

Monday, July 5 1975 Philadelphia Buffalo 6

Tuesday, July 6 1976 Montreal Philadelphia 4

Wednesday, July 7 1977 Montreal Boston 4

Thursday, July 8 1978 Montreal Boston 6

Friday, July 9 1979 NY Rangers Montreal 5

Monday, July 12 1980 Philadelphia NY Islanders 6

Tuesday, July 13 1981 Minnesota NY Islanders 5

Wednesday, July 14 1982 NY Islanders Vancouver 4

Thursday, July 15 1983 Edmonton NY Islanders 4

Friday, July 16 1984 NY Islanders Edmonton 5

Monday, July 19 1985 Philadelphia Edmonton 5

Tuesday, July 20 1986 Montreal Calgary 5

Wednesday, July 21 1987 Philadelphia Edmonton 7

Thursday, July 22 1988 Boston Edmonton 4

Friday, July 23 1989 Calgary Montreal 6

Monday, July 26 1990 Edmonton Boston 5

Tuesday, July 27 1991 Pittsburgh Minnesota 6

Wednesday, July 28 1992 Pittsburgh Chicago 4

Thursday, July 29 1993 Los Angeles Montreal 5

Friday, July 30 1994 Vancouver NY Rangers 7

Monday, Aug. 2 1995 Detroit New Jersey 4

Tuesday, Aug. 3 1996 Colorado Florida 4

Wednesday, Aug. 4 1997 Philadelphia Detroit 4

Thursday, Aug. 5 1998 Detroit Washington 4

Friday, Aug. 6 1999 Dallas Buffalo 6

Monday, Aug. 9 2000 New Jersey Dallas 6

Tuesday, Aug. 10 2001 New Jersey Colorado 7

Wednesday, Aug. 11 2002 Carolina Detroit 5

Thursday, Aug. 12 2003 Anaheim New Jersey 7

Friday, Aug. 13 2004 Calgary Tampa Bay 7

Monday, Aug. 16 2006 Edmonton Carolina 7

Tuesday, Aug. 17 2007 Ottawa Anaheim 5

Wednesday, Aug. 18 2008 Detroit Pittsburgh 6

Thursday, Aug. 19 2009 Pittsburgh Detroit 7

Friday, Aug. 20 2010 Chicago Philadelphia 6

Monday, Aug. 23 Fans’ Choice Encore #1

Tuesday, Aug. 24 Fans’ Choice Encore #2

Wednesday, Aug. 25 Fans’ Choice Encore #3

Thursday, Aug. 26 Fans’ Choice Encore #4

Friday, Aug. 27 Fans’ Choice Encore #5

More Time Off, Sort Of

Puck the Media will go to PR Mode, posting only press releases, for the next month or so.  The goal is to take a little time off from hockey (I know, bloody likely) and focus on my SBN gig while not driving myself crazy stretching to come up with material when it might not be there.

How long are we gonna be in PR mode?  Most likely the rest of June and all of July.  August the TV schedule will be upon us, and I will certainly have something to say.  When we get back, I’ll be doing stuff on the upcoming NHL TV negotiations and other fun stuff.

Thank you all, devoted readers of Puck the Media.  See you in creative form soon.

Your NHL Draft Open Thread

NHL Draft, Round 1, 7PM
National TV (US):
VERSUS (HD)
National TV (Canada): TSN (HD)
Hosts: James Duthie and Gord Miller
Analysts: Bob McKenzie, Darren Dreger and Pierre McGuire
Reporter: Ryan Rishaug

LA Hosts 1st Draft

OS ANGELES (June 24, 2010) – The NHL Entry Draft coming to California for the first time is the latest milestone for the growth of hockey in the Golden State.

The Los Angeles Kings and California Seals brought the NHL here in 1967, but it can be said that hockey really didn’t arrive in California until Aug. 9, 1988, the day of Wayne Gretzky’s monumental trade to the Kings. In their first season with Gretzky, the Kings improved from 68 points to 91, and won a playoff series for the first time since 1982. In 1990-91, they won the only division title in club history and finished with 102 points. Two seasons later, they had their magical run to the 1993 Stanley Cup Final.

More than 20 years later, the reverberations of the Gretzky Trade still can be seen at this year’s Entry Draft.

Medicine Hat Tigers right wing Emerson Etem, No. 8 on NHL Central Scouting’s ranking of North American skaters, grew up in nearby Long Beach. Five players in Central Scouting’s top 100 North American skaters hail from the Golden State — Etem; No. 32 Beau Bennett of Torrance (Penticton, BCHL); No. 51 Jason Zucker of Newport Beach (US Under-18, USHL); No. 68 Jacob Fallon of Riverside (Indiana, USHL); and No. 88 Taylor Aronson of Placentia (Portland, WHL).

Those five are one more than hockey-centric Massachusetts (four) and just one fewer than Michigan (six).

Rancho Santa Margarita native Jonathan Blum became the first California-born and -trained first-round draft pick when the Nashville Predators took him No. 23 in the 2007 Entry Draft, and California players have dotted the draft list over the last few years. Etem, who is expected to go in the top 15, could replace Blum as the highest-drafted California-born player.

“Wayne’s influence created a demand for ice time,” said Pat Brisson, a Los Angeles-based agent who represents top NHL players like Sidney Crosby and Patrick Kane. “I saw it firsthand. I was here. Youth hockey took off. … And now you see kids born in 1990, 1991, ’92 or ’93 in L.A. are now going to come into the NHL draft because of what Wayne did.”

Over time, more and better ice facilities were built, and youth hockey, which had been a near non-entity, began taking off. According to USA Hockey, there were 8,094 youth players (through 18 years old) registered in California for the 2009-10 season. Another 12,310 adults were registered through USA Hockey.

The Los Angeles Jr. Kings have 16 teams under their umbrella and are now members of the Tier 1 Elite Hockey League, which is scouted heavily by the USHL and top collegiate programs in the U.S. The Anaheim Junior Ducks have 14 teams under their umbrella and the San Jose Junior Sharks have 16 teams.

Have a Pleasant Summer, Bill

From William Houston’s last column of the summer:

We sometimes get the impression that the U.S. sports media has no real interest in the NHL — that the sport’s appeal is limited to a very small group of hard core fans.

But consider this story: During the French Open, NBC’s tennis announcer Ted Robinson did some promos for network’s coverage of Stanley Cup final. During the men’s final telecast two weeks ago, Robinson suggested on the air to John McEnroe they visit a Canadian bar he knew in Paris to watch Philadelphia-Chicago Game 5 that night. It started at 2 a.m. local time. It turned out 20 technicians, production staff and on air people showed up at The Great Canadian Pub at Quai des Grands Augustins. They watched the game until it was over at 5 a.m. and then headed to the airport to catch their Monday morning flight home.

The NHL Awards Shows Marked Improvment, Still Kind of A Flop-Sweat Fest

Celebrity Host, Or a Host at All – One thing we’ve all agreed we were tired of is that Ron MacLean’s hosting gig had become stale. Well, this year’s awkward transitions between Jeremy Roenick (who really disappointed me), “Entourage” star Kevin Connolly, and Vancouver Canucks analyst/occasional crooner Michael Buble (the best of the bunch) was awkward, as was most of the show. Either give the spot back to Ron or get a celebrity. Alan Thicke mentioned hosting a couple shows during the red carpet on NHL.com. Why not Kevin Smith? Denis Leary? Buble again?

All Celebrity Presenters – Hockey players reading teleprompters: Not a good thing. I think we’d all agree that there should be more Tricia Helfer, less Igor Larionov. Though it was touching to see Vladimir Konstantinov again.

Make The Lighting So that attendees Don’t Look Purple – Did you seem some of these guys on TV? Jean Beliveau looked purple when they cut to him in the crowd. Now that VERSUS has perfected the art of not screwing up the broadcast, let’s get some proper color down.

One Chaka Khan is Enough – It’s great that Robin Thicke digs hockey, and that JR digs Chaka Khan, but we need music that represents the spirit of the game a little more next year. We know the league doesn’t like to use bands that make “too much sense”, but we’ll have The Tragically Hip and Barenaked Ladies just fine, thank you.

No More Cutting to Pointless Non-Celebrities – We like Heidi Androl and Carrie Millbank as much as the regular red-blooded American male. But there’s absolutely no point to cutting to them during an award speech. At all.

These were some changes we begged the NHL to make last year.  Five points about the NHL Awards of 2010.

  1. Jay Mohr is Okay, but Let’s Go with a Better Comic: Look, for all the “controversy” Jay Mohr had for hosting this shindig, the guy acquitted himself nicely.  Thought the non-hockey jokes were a little late to the party (Joe Jackson?  Lindsay Lohan?  Really?) and the fact that he started just doing strange impressions out of nowhere to introduce presenters will likely baffle anyone over the age of 40 and under the age of 20 (His Christopher Walken is truly masterful though) the guy did a pretty solid job.  If Reese Waters finds a way to increase his star power, I’d love to see him get a shot, or have Mohr come back another year.
  2. Is Everyone a Comedian? Apparently.  The celebrity presenters were hit (D.B. Sweeney and Jamie Kennedy, John Slattery, Roenick and Olczyk) or miss (Luc Robitaille and Natasha Henstridge, the kid from Air Bud and Whatsherface) with their assigned bits of wit and whimsy.  It is a good idea to have most of the show be kept light and funny, but make sure whoever’s delivering the joke can do it.
  3. Digital Shorts are the Way to Go: After Kevin Smith and Denis Leary brought the funny last year, the NHL tried their own players in a little sketch comedy.  The bit with Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan was truly funny and worthy of SNL.  Getzlaf and Ryan will never win Oscars, but committed to the bit quite well.  I’d love to see one or two more of these next time around, to start and end the show, and see if we can get a celebrity guests.
  4. The Musical Guests Are Still Middle of the Road – They may not be completely irrelevant, but the Goo Goo Dolls are not exactly going to up the NHL’s hipness level, but it is a step ahead of Chaka Khan.  Shinedown maybe an abomination unto the Lord, but they are popular among the idiots who like their lame grunge-pop.  Snoop Dogg may be a few years past his prime, but he’s friggin’ awesome.  However, lets aim a little more on the “hip” side next year.
  5. Making Hockey Players Funny, Or at Least Personable – If there is ever an NHL personal conduct law like in the other leagues, Patrick Kane will probably get a huge fine or suspension, but his little bit with that showgirl was quite funny, and a surprising improvisation from a league of players often seen as humorless.  But a lot of tonight was about the idea that the new NHL player is as engaging and gregarious as any other league.  As Kane, Ryan Miller, Kesler and Ryan showed off, we’re on the right track.  Just like the NHL Awards in 2010.  Looking forward to it next year.

Your NHL Awards Nitpick/Open Thread

NHL Awards, 7:30 PM ET
National TV (US):
VERSUS (HD)
National TV (Canada): CBC (HD, will not air until 8:30)
Host: Jay Mohr

Jay Mohr Defends Himself as a Hockey Fan on NHL Live

After having his hockey cred called into question, Jay Mohr defended himself yesterday on NHL Live.

When asked about the “controversy”, Mohr said “… I like hockey. I just can’t play it. And hockey players are really handsome and athletic and they can fight. Three qualities I don’t have. So I’ve always been very jealous.”  He seemed apt to wanting to do it again if it goes well, adding “The trick is, you gotta get invited back”.  In fact, Don LaGreca managed to probably embarrass himself more than, er, Mohr by asking him about his cancelled television show Gary Unmarried.

Mohr hosts the NHL Awards tonight at 7:30 PM ET on VERSUS.

NHLPA Approves Heritage Classic, So Drake Can Go Home For It

NEW YORK (June 22, 2010) The National Hockey League confirmed today that the Calgary Flames will host the Montreal Canadiens in the Heritage Classic at McMahon Stadium on February 20. Further details on the game will be announced at a later date.

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