Avs Fans, Don’t Worry – Altitude Will Cover Sakic Retirement Ceremony Completely

From the Avs’ Website:

Altitude will broadcast Joe Sakic’s Retirement Ceremony live on Thursday, October 1 from 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m., the network announced today.  After 20 seasons and 13 All-Star Appearances, Joe Sakic is hanging up his skates and Altitude is taking you through his pregame retirement ceremony at Pepsi Center.

Altitude’s coverage will include interviews with current and former Colorado Avalanche players, a video montage of Sakic’s career and an interview with him following the celebration.

The entire ceremony will re-air on Altitude four times, including October 1 at 11:00 p.m., October 2 at 6:30 a.m. and noon, and on October 3 at 11:00 a.m.  The ceremony will also be available to Comcast digital cable subscribers as a Video on Demand selection for 30 days from the original air date.

Peter McNab, Mike Haynes, Kyle Keefe and Peter Ruttgaizer will host and report throughout the 90 minute coverage.  On the radio side, Marc Moser and Mark Bertagnolli will provide 60 minutes of live coverage of the ceremony as well.  The Colorado Avalanche vs. San Jose Sharks game that evening will be available on national television and locally on Mile High Sports Radio AM 1510.

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Not That They Matter Much, But Here’s Our 2009-10 NHL Projections

Eastern Conference

1. Washington
2. Boston
3. Philadelphia
4. New Jersey
5. Pittsburgh
6. Buffalo
7. Carolina
8. Ottawa
9. NY Rangers
10. Tampa Bay
11. Montreal
12. Toronto
13. NY Islanders
14. Florida
15. Atlanta

Western Conference
1. Vancouver
2. Chicago
3. San Jose
4. Detroit
5. Anaheim
6. St. Louis
7. Los Angeles
8. Columbus
9. Dallas
10. Calgary
11. Nashville
12. Minnesota
13. Edmonton
14. Phoenix
15.
Colorado

Round 1 Series Winners

East
1. Washington
2. Boston
6. Buffalo
5. Pittsburgh

West
8. Columbus
2. Chicago
3. San Jose
5. Anaheim

Round 2 Winners
East
1. Washington
5. Pittsburgh

West
2. Chicago
5. Anaheim

Round 3 Winners
East
Washington

West
Chicago

Stanley Cup Champion
Washington

Five Things We’d Like to See on NHL TV Coverage This Season

The NHL season looms large, with four games this Thursday, all on national TV in one of the league’s two home countries.  Here are some suggestions to help them along as we get stoked.

1. Contemporary Music for Cold Opens and Commercial Breaks

Check that out.  Wouldn’t it be awesome to see that done with NHL highlights and Emrick’s or Hughson’s voice talking about all the potential storylines that will come with the 09-10 campaign?  I know ESPN takes a lot of heat for this, but the NHL can combat this with actual good music that people want to hear.  We’re talking to you, CBC with it’s Nickelback.

Mike Emrick does some fantastic cold opens over generic tunes for MSG Plus.  Bob Costas used to do them quite well for NBC with basketball in the late 90’s.  Networks have been dropping them as of late.  The NHL should bring them back, and bring amazing music with them.

2. American Networks: Talk about the negatives once and a while.

Now, we know that NBC and VERSUS have such sweetheart deals with the league (Well, NBC does).  We also know that the NHL’s American studio commentators are creampuffs who will gladly dip themselves into a vat of acid before talking about something anywhere close to controversial.  Instead, they’ll just throw around dumb platitudes like “Brian Gionta is a proven 40-goal scorer”.

We challenge the NHL’s TV partners to start talking about Phoenix, talking about the troubles of the Blackhawks in the wake of their success.  Talk about it so the fans don’t have to turn to internet mouthpieces to shape their thinking on stuff that matters throughout the whole league.  Did I say internet?  I meant… er, nevermind.

3. More Games

My dad’s a fairly simple guy.  He likes all the ancillary programming on NHL Network for the most part.  But sometimes he just wishes they’d show a friggin’ game.  I agree here.  NHL Network televising only 4 more games than VERSUS throughout the first two months of the season is pretty unacceptable.

Since there seems to be time for the network to right this the rest of the way, here’s a tip: Bring back both games of the HNIC doubleheader.  Show any TSN game that doesn’t air on VERSUS exclusive nights.  Show all of their ancillary programming.  By showing off the best hockey coverage has to offer, more folks will take your own coverage seriously.

3. Please… No More Lower Screen Ads

We’re pretty ardent flip-floppers on whether or not we’re willing to defend VERSUS.  One of the reasons that definitely puts me on the side with all the torches and pitchforks is the fact that they feel they need to show ads for shows that no NHL fan will ever watch every six minutes.  TSN bugs it’s viewers with the ESPN-style bottom line every now and then.  Please cut this out, or do as NBC does (Taking hockey hints from NBC?) and keep it confined to your score bug.

4. Speaking of Score Bugs… VERSUS, Use the One for College Football and Not Your Weird One that Takes Up Too Much Space

Notice that nice, clean, compact, modern looking score bug in the corner?  Why VERSUS hasn’t let it’s far superior college football graphics folks working on NHL coverage has been beyond me.  All the networks should be aiming for something smaller, sleeker, and less-filling.

5. Finallly… Don’t Ever Listen to Hockey Fans

Or at least what you think “hockey fans” want.  According to Gary Bettman, “hockey fans” love the shootout.  [Seinfeldian Accent] Who are these hockey fans?

Don’t listen to anyone claiming to know hockey.  Anyone that willing to bring up the sport in conversation is a phony.  Talk to the bloggers, the diehards, the people who have swiped an illegal stream from the internet just to watch the games what you can do better.  Not some SportsCenter hockey fan, like Gary Bettman.

VERSUS Adds Charissa Thompson To NHL Lineup, Promotes Upgrades to VERSUS.com, Future Guest Analysts on Hockey Central

We’ll have more thoughts on this later.

NEW YORK, N.Y. (September 29, 2009)-VERSUS, the exclusive cable television home of the National Hockey League (NHL), kicks off its fifth year of NHL coverage on Thurs., Oct. 1, with a must-see night of hockey featuring three of the best teams during last year’s regular season.  Opening night will also showcase NHL superstar Alexander Ovechkin’s season debut and the Colorado Avalanche honoring 20-year NHL veteran Joe Sakic by retiring his jersey.  The double-header begins with a clash between Eastern Conference titans when the Washington Capitals visit the Boston Bruins at 7 p.m. ET, followed by the Avalanche hosting the San Jose Sharks at 10 p.m. ET.

As the fastest growing cable sports network in the country and on the heels of the most-watched September in network history, VERSUS continues its first week of NHL coverage on Friday, Oct. 2, with an overseas double-header featuring the Florida Panthers and Chicago Blackhawks at 12 p.m. ET from Helsinki, Finland, followed by a Central Division battle between the St. Louis Blues and Detroit Red Wings at 3 p.m. ET from Stockholm, Sweden.

Joe Beninati, Andy Brickley and new rinkside reporter Charissa Thompson will serve as the in-arena team in Boston, while Mike “Doc” Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Bob Harwood will be on-site in Colorado for opening night.  On Oct. 2, Dave Strader and Billy Jaffe will call the action for the Helsinki game and Rick Peckham and Darren Eliot will provide commentary for the contest in Stockholm.

VERSUS.com, which saw video views grow more than 140 percent during the 2008-09 NHL season, has been revamped to increase its comprehensive offerings to viewers.  This season, team pages will include up-to-date statistical information for all NHL teams, a blog called “The Daily Drop” which will provide a daily update on what is happening in and around the NHL, interactive games and a new video feature titled “Rookie Diaries” which will spotlight the league’s top draft picks for this year’s regular season.  The site will continue to include editorial coverage from some of the most knowledgeable hockey sources in the industry, exclusive videos and interviews as well as game highlights.

This season, VERSUS’ dedicated studio show Hockey Central, hosted by Bill Patrick with analysts Brian Engblom and Keith Jones, will feature high-profile guest analysts on select game telecasts for the first time.  Details about guests will be announced when information becomes available, but may include former players and/or coaches.  Hockey Central provides extensive insight and commentary of the sport and features regular segments, including highlights from games around the league; Plays of the Week; a telestrator segment in which Engblom breaks down and discusses the night’s top plays; Parting Shots, where Engblom and Jones debate hockey’s hottest topics in rapid fire fashion; Live-Look-Ins wherever possible, bringing viewers live action from games being played concurrently during VERSUS’ telecast; and features on NHL players away from the ice.

In addition to the VERSUS.com and Hockey Central enhancements, the network has added Charissa Thompson to the NHL on VERSUS talent roster.  Thompson will serve as a rinkside reporter, providing in-game updates and on-the-bench interviews.  Most recently, Thompson was a correspondent for the Best Damn Sport Show Period and served as the sideline reporter for the Big Ten Network’s Saturday game of the week.

Coming off the highest-rated regular season in network history and the most-watched playoffs on cable since 2002, VERSUS is heading into its coverage of 2009/10 NHL regular season with tremendous momentum.  Last year VERSUS saw regular season viewership jump more than 20 percent and viewership for the playoffs increase 27 percent as compared to the year prior.  Games 3 and 4 of the 2009 Stanley Cup Final were the most-watched Final round on cable since 2002 and VERSUS’ coverage of the Conference Semifinal and Conference Final rounds were the highest-rated on cable in more than a decade.

VERSUS’ regular season schedule highlights some of the most exciting games this year with the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings appearing nine times on VERSUS and the New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins all making eight appearances.  The Washington Capitals, Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres and Minnesota Wild will each appear seven times this season.  In total VERSUS will televise 54 regular season games, wall-to-wall Stanley Cup Playoff action and Games 3 and 4 of the Stanley Cup Final.  All of the network’s regular-season games are exclusive and VERSUS’ regular-season schedule features a Game of the Week wherein VERSUS will be the only place on television to watch an NHL game in the U.S. at that time.  Due to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, an All-Star Game will not take place this season.  Every NHL game on VERSUS is available in HD and the network’s complete schedule is available at VERSUS.com.

VERSUS celebrates real competition across all platforms (VERSUS.com, VERSUS on Demand and VERSUS HD) and is the national cable home of the National Hockey League (NHL), the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the IndyCar® Series as well as best-in-class events such as The Tour de France, the Professional Bull Riders (PBR), World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) and Professional Boxing.  The network also offers collegiate sports featuring nationally-ranked teams from top conferences such as the Pac-10, Big 12, Mountain West and Ivy League. VERSUS features the best field sports programming on television and is a destination for sports fans, athletes and sportsmen to find exclusive, competitive events and original programs, such as Sports Soup and Sports Jobs with Junior Seau that audiences can’t find elsewhere.  VERSUS, a wholly owned company of Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ: CMCSA, CMCSK), is distributed via cable systems and satellite operators throughout the United States.

Morning Music Breakdown

2 more days.  Come together.