Highlights of the VERSUS NHL Conf. Call

Doc Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Marc Fein, Executive VP of Programming Production & Business Operations of VERSUS all took in a conference call with some reporters on Wednesday.  Here are some of the key things they said:

Fein on VERSUS’ Recent Success: The NHL coming off a hugely successful winter classic we think is just terrific and with Versus our ratings are up in viewership almost 20% and overall last year Versus garnered the largest viewership gain overall among all cable sports networks in terms of households, viewers and key male demographics.

So with Hockey and everything else in the network really on the upswing with the winter classic and NHL it’s just a good time for the All-Star game to hit and as Katie mentioned we’re going to make a huge night on Sunday night out of it.

Mike Emrick on Montreal: But it’s the notion of how Montreal does everything. They do it with class and appreciation for the history of the game and I can’t wait to see what they’re going to do just before the game starts. I don’t know what the presentation of the anthem will be like I’m sure it will be dramatic. But I know one thing there will be 21,273 there, which will set a record for attendance for an All-Star game.

Eddie Olczyk on How to Change the All-Star Selection Process:  You know to me this game is an event, it is for the fans and you know there are always going to be players that are going to be left off the ballots, that are going to be left off. I mean you know you can start with the guy like Phil Kessel or maybe Duncan Keith in Chicago.

I mean Markov was finally added after the injuries that happened in Detroit and to me you know is there a perfect remedy for this, no I don’t believe that there is. It is for the fans and I would like to see the league consider to expand the rosters going into a 25 man roster.

And when it comes to the voting aspect of it as I would like to see the fans be able to vote for one forward, one D and one goal tender and then you have your committee and you have your people involved with making these decisions and then you know you will get the guys there that you know maybe there is a team that has five or six guys because they deserve with how they performed this year.

 It is about this year. It isn’t about what has happened in the past and I know in certain situations teams have struggled and it’s a decision that is very difficult but I really believe – I mean there is no perfect way but it is for the fans, it is about selling the greatest athletes and the greatest players in the world.

And if you can open it up I think a little more and get more of the great players in the league to the All-Star games I think it would be an even greater event even though the intensity isn’t to where we all see it to be in a regular season game or most importantly in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Doc Emrick on How All-Star Games Affect Goaltenders: Now there was one occasion I know where the late Pelle Lindbergh got lit up in the third period of a game at Long Island and it was a bit of a mental stress for him within the month that followed there. He did rebound and help the Philadelphia Flyers a lot but there was that one time in January and Wayne Gretzky had a lot to do with that as he did with a lot of goaltenders.

There are those occasions where a guy that’s very sensitive could probably be brought down by an experience in an All-Star game but by and large they go in with a pretty good sense of humor because they realize yeah they are sort of left out there.

Emrick on Missing the Winter Classic: Yeah I – missing any game is hard but when you wind up – I’m not sure if you have caught what a lot of people have and what I did this winter it was just one of those that seemed to settle in my vocal cords and I went through two cards of antibiotics five days a piece before I finally got rid of it. It just held on.

 But it was difficult. I did get to Chicago on the 30th and had a nice room looking out on Lake Michigan and I knew about six blocks west of Lake Michigan was Wrigley Field and Eddie Olczyk was there almost ready to recreate his singing the 7th inning stretch song from this past August and all of those things but the morning of the 31st I realized I just wasn’t going to be strong enough and they don’t hire in closers in our line of work.

 So Lou Piniella and Sam Flood do not share the notion of coming to the mound and pointing to someone else to come in and help you. I was just not strong enough to do it and I regretted that but Dave Strader came in and did a magnificent job. With one days notice he was outstanding and hopefully I’ll be healthy enough should they have one of these next year.

The NHL All-Star Weekend begins on VERSUS with the Honda/NHL Superskills at 7PM this Saturday, and the Game airing this Sunday at 6PM.  We will be liveblogging both, so join us.  See You Saturday.




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