Your Announcers and Open Thread For Kings-Blackhawks

Los Angeles vs. Chicago, 8PM, VERSUS
Play by Play:
Joe Beninati
Color: Eddie Olczyk
Reporter: Charissa Thompson

NHL Team with Game on VERSUS Tonight Unaware That NHL Team’s Game is On VERSUS Tonight

The LA Kings take on the Chicago Blackhawks tonight at 8PM ET/5PM PT on VERSUS, also available on VERSUS HD.  You’re welcome.

The game tonight is unfortunately not televised… but Luc’s ceremony is! RT @AngryWeb: @LAKingsHockey Is the game tonight televised?

Steve Complains About NHL, VERSUS Again: HHOF Ceremony Deserves US TV Treatment

Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, much like jersey retirement ceremonies, are super boring if you don’t have a personal investment in the athlete being honored (there, I said it, Joe Sakic fans who complained about VERSUS on opening night).  The fact is, it’s just a bunch of guys giving speeches about how blessed they are by God and how they couldn’t have done it without their teammates, and very rarely does anything revelatory come out of it.

Still… it should be on VERSUS.

For a few years now, the league has been thinking of ways to make HHOF induction weekend an event a la the Winter Classic or the All-Star Game.  Something like shutting down games to air the ceremony.  This would be a great idea.  An even better idea would be the one I’m proposing.

VERSUS is airing a game between LA and Chicago tonight.  Hey, what’s that?  One of the players being honored tonight played for one of those teams?  Great!  Why not show the HHOF induction ceremony before the game?  The ceremony will run from 7-8:30 on NHL Network tonight (thank you), so why not just move the hockey game back a half an hour and dedicate your entire night to the great history of the sport.

One of the best HHOF classes ever deserves, as do their multitude of fans.

Keenan, McCarty, Laviolette to Appear on Hockey Central

NEW YORK, N.Y. (November 9, 2009)-VERSUS, the fastest growing cable sports network in the country, today announced three guest analysts synonymous with NHL success will join the Hockey Central studio crew in November.  Mike Keenan will be the first guest to join Bill Patrick, Keith Jones and Brian Engblom in the Hockey Central studio on Tuesday, November 10, when the Boston Bruins host the Pittsburgh Penguins at 7 p.m. ET.  Keenan coached 1386 career games with eight NHL teams and led the New York Rangers to their historic Stanley Cup victory in 1994; a feat that hadn’t been accomplished in more than 50 years.

On Monday, November 16, Peter Laviolette will be in the studio when the Philadelphia Flyers host the New Jersey Devils at 7 p.m. ET.  Laviolette coached 487 career games spanning two teams and led the Carolina Hurricanes to Stanley Cup victory in 2006.  Darren McCarty, 17-year NHL veteran and four-time Stanley Cup Champion with the Detroit Red Wings, will join the Hockey Central crew on Monday, November 23.  Throughout his career, McCarty garnered 288 career points and 1477 regular season penalty minutes and 49 points and 228 penalty minutes in the playoffs.  Given his storied career with the Red Wings, he will be able to offer unprecedented insight and analysis during VERSUS’ Detroit Red Wings and Nashville Predators telecast.

In addition to their November appearances, these guest analysts will also be joining the studio team on select telecasts throughout the NHL regular season.  Details regarding subsequent Hockey Central appearances will be announced when information becomes available.

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 IZOD 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.

NHL Official Release on The Power Play

TORONTO/NEW YORK – XM Canada (TSX:XSR), the exclusive satellite radio broadcaster of the NHL, is proud to launch its very first television production in collaboration with the National Hockey League: NHL Power Play™ from Wayne Gretzky’s Restaurant in downtown Toronto. Hosted by Scott Laughlin, the show airs weekdays from 4pm – 6pm on XM Channel 204 and, beginning November 16, will be simulcast on the NHL Network™ across Canada and in HD in the US.

Hockey’s greatest names will drop in daily on the NHL Power Play from Wayne Gretzky’s Restaurant to deliver a fully comprehensive hockey program on radio, and now, television. Hockey fans present atWayne Gretzky’s Restaurant will have the opportunity to be as much part of the show as they will be listeners and viewers.

One person who is very interested in the new program is The Great One himself. “Hockey fans are knowledgeable and passionate about the sport and the XM Canada and to have it simulcast gives fans the opportunity to watch and interact with the show live from Wayne Gretzky’s Restaurant, the pre-game destination in downtown Toronto,” said Wayne Gretzky.

“With surprise daily co-hosts from the sports and entertainment world, fans will never be disappointed and should definitely tune in today as Hockey Hall of Famer Denis Potvin co-hosts the show with us,” said Joe Thistel, Director of Programming, Sports and Talk, at XM Canada. “Special guests Petr Sykoraand Martin Havlat from the Minnesota Wild will also be appearing on today’s show to talk about the latest in hockey news, including the 2009 Hockey Hall of Fame inductees.”

“We are delighted to add the NHL Power Play from Wayne Gretzky’s Restaurant to our existing programming that provides fans with the inside-access to the game that they have come to expect with the NHL Network,” said Andre Mika, NHL Senior Vice President of Creative. “The NHL Network is the only television network to provide around-the-clock hockey programming to fans across North America, making it truly the home of hockey.”

VERSUS/DirecTV Talks Could Jumpstart Soon. Every Hockey Fan in the World Responds: “SOON? FML!”

A very long article from Mike Reynolds of Multichannel News gives you some facets of what lies ahead for the VERSUS/DirecTV scuffle:

The ratings amelioration has come without DirecTV’s 14 million-plus homes, as much of that subscriber loss has been made up by sneak previews on a number of cable operators and Dish Network, which has provided Versus a full berth of its homes. As such, Versus’ sub count has only declined to 71 million homes from 75 million, before the DirecTV drop.

The Dish free preview, though, is slated to end on Nov. 30. However, sources familiar with the negotiations indicate that Versus and Dish are moving toward a more permanent, expanded placement for the network. Before the preview, Dish carried Versus on its Classic Gold 250 package and above. The DBS provider also recently signed a deal with Professional Bull Riders Inc., one of Versus’ prime properties, to become the official satellite television partner of the PBR

After indicating all it is seeking from Comcast is “equal treatment,” DirecTV also directs users to viewing alternatives to sports featured on Versus like the National Hockey League, college football, mixed martial arts, auto racing, bull riding and hunting and fishing fare.
For its part, Versus maintains the disconnect centers principally on DirecTV wanting to place it on a lower level of service, one that would give it access to 6 million down from 14.4 million.
Davis said Versus changed its proposal several weeks back, keeping pricing the same under the recently expired contract and capping the money DirecTV would have to pay, even as the DBS provider’s overall subscriber rolls might grow.

Some observers in the sports TV community say another factor that could perhaps impact the Versus-DirecTV stalemate is Comcast’s reported push to form a joint venture partnership with NBC Universal. They point to the potential for Versus to add replays of Notre Dame football games, and/or a pair of live Fighting Irish contests that NBC Sports can contractually shift to cable. Moreover, Versus would likely become one of NBC’s stable of Olympics networks for London in 2012 (the deal wouldn’t likely be closed in time for the upcoming Winter Games in Vancouver next February) and beyond, as expected to bid for the 2014 Olympics in Socchi, Russia and Rio De Janiero in 2016.

“Versus just isn’t at that level of interest yet. Like all other carriage disputes it’s a matter of price. I’m sure they’ll eventually come to terms.”
The DirecTV spokesman wouldn’t engage: “That’s all speculation,” he said.

Mansell did say that a Comcast-NBC U union could benefit both parties on the sports side, pointing toGolf Channel sharing talent and facilities resources with NBC on the links game; regional sports networks teaming with NBC owned-and-operated stations, including local ad sales efforts; and the companies going after college conference and other major properties, a la ESPN-ABC.

All that tells me is that we’re still a long way away from some hockey on DirecTV.

Monty Python Mondays