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:


John Forslund
Dave Strader
John Ahlers 


Darren Eliot
Billy Jaffe
Neil Smith


Chris Simpson
Bob Harwood
Lindsay Soto

Now, this could conceivably work for VERSUS.  What they usually do is cover three games in two nights themselves, and leave one to a CBC/TSN simulcast, which is something we despise but whatever.  But with all the travel and chaos, you can’t think that VERSUS will go with just these folks.

So who would step in?  On the play-by-play side, it’s likely Rick Peckham of the Lightning broadcast team, who’s done VERSUS tilts in the past, would get the gig.  As far as analysts – assuming Brian Engblom isn’t being taken from the studio post – John Vanbiesbrouck could rejoin the team, as he’s been pretty idle this season.  Though it would cause conflict with the NHL’s “Hockey is For Everyone” thing (a million points if you get that joke).  

All said and done, VERSUS will likely take the lazy route as it always does with hockey, and that’s all that matter.


10 Responses to VERSUS Playoff Problem: Who’s Calling These Games?

  1. Leafsfan1967 says:

    I’m curious as to why you despise the CBC/TSN simulcasts especially when both of those networks always put on a quality program.

    One thing for sure, here’s hoping that Washington goes deep into the playoffs so that the dreadful Joe B. will not be on Versus. Now THAT’s something to be thankful for!!

  2. Ken says:

    I’m not going to speak for Steve, but I think he despises them because Versus is too lazy to send anybody. I enjoyed the CBC and TSN simulcasts because both networks cover hockey better than Versus. But I also think if Versus wants to be considered a major network, it should start developing its own crews to cover every series, not just two or three and allow the Canadian networks to cover one or two.

  3. BluesFan44 says:

    See, I don’t mind Versus passing along Canadian broadcasts. Better quality productions, better camera work, better announcing (in most cases), etc.

    I think for Versus to be taken seriously, they need their own dedicated PBP/color people. This bit of just finding whomever available seems pretty amateurish — especially if one of those guys is normally employed by one of the teams playing (such as John Ahlers last night working a Versus Ducks game).

    Why Bill Clement isn’t doing color for their games is beyond comprehension (I mean, I get it — Versus is cheap — but that’s no excuse.

    And… Joe Benihana ISN’T the guy to be the voice of Versus.

    Btw, where do I cash in my million points? 😉

  4. Leafsfan1967 says:

    I take your points about Versus needing dedicated on air talent but i doubt that is going to happen. Unlike Canada where TSN and the CBC pay huge amounts of money for the rights, then receive huge amounts of advertising dollars and then are in a position to pay dedicated on air talent, Versus doesn’t have the budget resources and so I am not holding my breath for them to hire dedicated on air talent.

    …And even if they did, do we have any hope they would hire good people to these positions. As a result I’ll take all the TSN and CBC feeds they can give me in the playoffs.

  5. Jack and Brick are both Versus talent, according to the website, so assuming the Bruins make the playoffs (and I’ll go so far as to admit it’s very likely at this point) and play games on Versus, we could see them doing work on Bruins games.

    I personally like it when they combine the two, getting PBP from one and Color from the other team. It gives national viewers a knowledgeable commentator, and gives home fans some comfort.

  6. Wayne says:


  7. kevin says:

    Jack Edwards is terrible…..As for the TSN broadcasts I would say this…DO NOT CHANGE ANYTHING!!!! I love Versus for this feature alone!

  8. Leafsfan1967 says:

    I agree with you Kevin. One of my regrets as an NHL Center Ice subscriber is that most of their feeds dry up in the playoffs because most of the games end up on Versus. While Verus sometimes produces a good product, most of the time this is not the case…

    The More TSN and CBC feeds that Versus gives us in the playoffs the better.

  9. peanut says:

    I agree with the quality of the CBC/TSN telecasts, except for one thing: when you have to watch your team play against a Canadian team – like the Sharks playing the Flames and Oilers in years past – you end up basically watching a ridiculously biased road broadcast. Those teams can goon it up to the high heavens, and the announcers will defend their actions all night long.

  10. Leafsfan1967 says:

    Peanut I think you are overstating the problems with CBC/TSN broadcasts but I take your point that you would rather watch your own home broadcast that is going to be more sympathetic to your team.

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