VERSUS Playoff Problem: Who’s Calling These Games?


Mike Emrick and Ed Olczyk

Mike Emrick and Ed Olczyk

We look at the standings pretty often, as any NHL fan does.  We noticed something recently, that numerous teams that have broadcasters who work for The NHL On VERSUS are in the playoff picture.

What the hell does that mean?  That means some of your favorite commentators will not be able to work some of the bigger games once the playoffs starts.  For example, while Mike Emrick can get out of Devils work to do NBC games, the same does not hold true for VERSUS.  Ditto Eddie Olczyk.

So, who is available at this point?  If the playoffs began today, here’s a list of VERSUS talent that could do Stanley Cup opening round games:

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CBC’s Fifth Estate to Investigate Fighting in Hockey

December 12, 2008 is a day Mike Sanderson will never forget. Following a tussle with another player, Mike’s son, 21-year-old hockey player Don Sanderson, fell to the ice, hitting his head. After three weeks in a coma, Don Sanderson died.  His death re-ignited a simmering debate – never far from the surface in this country – about fighting in hockey.

For those who know hockey best – the players and the coaches – the game, and the fighting, are governed by an unwritten law some insist makes the sport safer. They call it The Code and claim it’s about pride, solidarity, even sportsmanship. The Code is often upheld by a player who is the biggest and the toughest – the enforcer – whose talent on the ice lies not in scoring goals, but in protecting his teammates and exacting revenge on an opponent who dares to take a shot at his team’s star player.

 In this week’s episode of the fifth estate you will meet some of the men who, for better or worse, have lived by The Code. Reporter Bob McKeown interviews players, hockey officials and sports commentators, including Don Cherry and Bob McCown, in this in-depth look at both sides of the debate. 

Former NHLers Nick Kypreos and Marty McSorley re-live their experience of The Code and how it ended their hockey careers, but for very different reasons. Viewers will hear from the NHL’s current “heavyweight champion”, Montreal Canadiens’ Georges Laraque as well as Brian Burke, President and General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

And the fifth estate also talks to Mike Sanderson, who lost his son to The Code, and for whom this is no debate at all, but a very personal tragedy.

Executive producer of the fifth estate is David Studer. Senior producer is Sally Reardon. CBC Newsworld rebroadcasts the fifth estate on Saturdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT, Sundays at 7 p.m. ET.

Your Mid-Day YouTube Compulsory: See if You Get Bingo with This

We Really Love Jack Edwards Bingo

Finally, someone has taken those fun Deadspin Liveblog Bingo games that we enjoy so much.  We were thinking about doing them for some down-the-road Doc Emrick, John Forslund or Mike Lange called games during the playoffs (assuming the latter two’s teams make the playoffs) with their various phrases, but the ultimate right now is Mr. Edwards (or Randy Moller).  


Bruins fans, get in the game with Jack Bingo. Here’s your chance to play along at home with your favorite NHL play-by-play man, Jack Edwards.

Just print out one of the four Jack Bingocards below. Every time you hear Jack utter one of his signature phrases during a Bruins broadcast on NESN, mark off that box on your card. We’ll play along throughout every Bruins game night, too.

Sounds like fun, if anyone tries it out for a night, tell us how it goes.

NHL Network Has Free Preview, Tons of Live Programming Next Week

NEW YORK – The NHL Network will offer a free preview to more than 34 million subscribers of multiple distributors in the United States, such as DIRECTV, DISH Network®, AT&T U-verse, Verizon, Cox Communications, Grande Communications and TVMAX, beginning Monday, March 2 through Saturday, March 7. 

As the definitive hockey destination, NHL Network offers viewers a 24-hour all-access pass to complete hockey coverage both on and off the ice, including live NHL games, robust game highlights packages and expert analysis. As a portion of this six-day free-preview period, viewers will be able to watch 52 hours of HD hockey programming including five live games, special Trade Deadline day coverage and 10 premieres of exclusive original NHL Network™ programming.

Games broadcast during the free preview include four live NHL games (blackout restrictions apply) and one live American Hockey League game. The Montreal Canadiens and the host Buffalo Sabres — two longtime rivals looking to secure a playoff berth — go head-to-head on Wednesday, March 4. Then on Thursday, March 6, the Canadiens play the host Atlanta Thrashers. On Saturday, March 7, viewers will enjoy AHL action with the Rochester Americans playing the Lake Erie Monsters, followed by a simulcast of CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada doubleheader of the Edmonton Oilers visiting the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the San Jose Sharks traveling to Vancouver to play the Canucks. 

On Wednesday, March 4 the NHL Network will provide extensive coverage of the NHL Trade Deadline that will keep viewers up-to-date on the latest trades and their favorite clubs through an special three-hour of edition of NHL Live with Don LaGreca and Bill Clement, and a special three-hour NHL On the Fly Trade Deadline Special.

Also premiering during the free preview are brand new episodes of original NHL Network series including The Hodge Stove League talk show where the guest will be Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Ron Wilson; a Day In The Life episode featuring Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Derek Morris; a Voices profile of St. Louis’ announcer Chris Kerber; a Pioneers spotlight on Hockey Hall of Famer Red Kelly; and an all-access special filmed in Montreal at the 2009 NHL All-Star Weekend. Additional programming includes spotlights on NHL legends Ted Lindsay, Al MacInnis and Maurice Richard, and eight programs devoted to 2010 Winter Olympic Games hopefuls Zdeno Chara, Chris Drury, Patrik Elias, Mike Green, Chris Pronger, Mike Richards and Shea Weber.

NHL Network Free Preview Spotlight Programming
(All Times Eastern)

12 p.m.            NHL Live simulcast

Monday, March 2
9 a.m.              Bienvenue a Montreal! All Access at the 2009 NHL All-Star Weekend
10 a.m.            NHL On The Fly

Tuesday, March 3
7 p.m.              The Hodge Stove League: Ron Wilson
8 p.m.              A Day That Changed The Game: November 1, 1959
9 p.m.              NHL On The Fly

Wednesday, March 4 — NHL Trade Deadline
12 p.m.            Special 3-hour edition of NHL Live
3 p.m.              NHL On The Fly Trade Deadline Special
7:30 p.m.         Canadiens at Sabres
10 p.m.            NHL On The Fly

Thursday, March 5
7 p.m.              Day In The Life: Derek Morris
7:30 p.m.         Voices: St. Louis’ Chris Kerber
8 p.m.              Captains Powered by Bridgestone (player TBA)
8:30 p.m.         Pioneers: Red Kelly
9 p.m.              NHL On The Fly

Friday, March 6
7 p.m.              Don Cherry’s Grapevine — Al MacInnis
7:30 p.m.         Canadiens at Thrashers
10 p.m.            NHL On The Fly

Saturday, March 7
1 p.m. `           AHL Hockey: Rochester Americans at Lake Erie Monsters
6:30 p.m.         HNIC Pregame
7 p.m.              Hockey Night In Canada: Oilers at Maple Leafs
10 p.m.            Hockey Night in Canada: Sharks at Canucks
12:30 a.m.       HNIC After Hours
1:30 a.m.         NHL On The Fly