NHL Live Heads to Vegas For Spring Break… Or Just Wayne Gretzky’s Fantasy Camp

TORONTO (March 24, 2010) – Coming off its blanket coverage of the recent NHL General Managers meeting in Florida, the NHL’s signature daily radio show is on the road again this week. NHL Live! ™heads to Las Vegas for two days of special programming from The Wayne Gretzky Fantasy Camp at the Bellagio®, the National Hockey league announced today.

Daily appearances by The Great One, himself, will highlight the live coverage from Las Vegas that will be hosted by E.J. Hradek and Craig Button. NHL Live!, which is broadcast on Sirius XM Radio, streams on NHL.com and is simulcast on NHL Network, will air both days at its regular time – noon-2 p.m. ET (9-11 a.m. PT).

In addition to the event’s host, Wayne Gretzky, an impressive collection of NHL stars is scheduled to appear over the course of the show’s two-day Vegas run. Hockey Hall of Famers Luc Robitaille, Larry Robinson, Brian Leetch, Grant Fuhr and Denis Savard andStanley Cup-winning coach Mike Keenan are among the hockey luminaries expected to drop by and chat with Craig and E.J.

Wayne Gretzky Fantasy Camp VIII is scheduled to start today and run through March 29. Gretzky, along with former NHL stars, Hockey Hall of Famers and fans of the game, will compete for the Gretzky Cup. The Camp, which gives fans the opportunity to live out their hockey dreams, will feature a number of off-ice events plus the chance to mingle with sports celebrities.

NBC to Skip a Week of Playoff Hockey Again

Not really a surprise, I’m sure VERSUS will be happy to take a 6th game of a Pens-Caps or Hawks-Sharks series.  Remember, I’ll get new ones of these each week:

April 17, 1PM – Conference Qtrs.
April 18, 3PM
– Conference Qtrs.
April 24, 3PM – Conference Qtrs.
April 25, 2PM – Conference Qtrs.
May 1, 12:30PM – Conference Semis
May 2, 2PM – Conference Semis

May 8 & 9 will go exclusively to VERSUS as NBC televises The Players Championship

Pens/Red Wings Matches NBC Sunday Ratings, Is Highest Rated Game on Cable Since 2004

NEW YORK, N.Y. (March 24, 2010)-VERSUS, the fastest growing sports cable network in the country, earned a .7 National HH rating and averaged 622,000 viewers for the March 22 Detroit Red Wings/Pittsburgh Penguins game making it VERSUS’ highest-rated and most-watched NHL regular season game in network history and the most-watched NHL regular season telecast on cable since 2004.  The game peaked at a .9 National HH rating and 760,000 viewers during the live telecast.

Monday night’s game surpassed VERSUS’ previous highs set by the Washington Capitals/Philadelphia Flyers game on October 27, 2009 in terms of HH rating (.6) and the Toronto Maple Leafs/Detroit Red Wings 2008/09 season-opening game on October 9, 2008 in average viewership (577,000).

Locally, Pittsburgh delivered a 6.7 HH rating and Detroit earned a 4.7 HH rating making VERSUS the top-rated cable network and also one of the top networks (among both cable and broadcast) in both cities.

VERSUS, the fastest growing sports cable network in the country, prides itself on super-serving passionate sports fans across all platforms (VERSUS.com, VERSUS on Demand and VERSUS HD).  Now in more than 75 million homes, the network is the cable television home of the National Hockey League (NHL), IZOD IndyCar Series, Tour de France, World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) and Professional Bull Riders (PBR).  VERSUS also has partnerships with top sports leagues such as NASCAR, NBA and UFC and airs collegiate sports featuring nationally-ranked teams from top conferences such as the Pac-10, Big 12 and Mountain West.  The network is also home to the best outdoor programming on television and airs original programs not available anywhere else, including The Daily Line, Sports Soup and Sports Jobs with Junior Seau.

Is CBC Misusing Jim Hughson?

This is a discussion perked up in the comments of the open thread from last Saturday night.  Some were annoyed that CBC’s lead play-by-play man, Jim Hughson, is being sent to mediocre-to-poor games instead of either a better regional matchup or the 10PM game.  Specifically, that Hughson would call the Toronto-Montreal game last Saturday instead of Detroit-Vancouver.

Let’s look at the Saturday night tilts Hughson has called this season:

October 10 – Pittsburgh vs. Toronto, 7PM
October 17 – NY Rangers vs. Toronto, 7PM
October 24 –
Toronto vs. Vancouver, 7PM
October 31 – Toronto vs. Montreal, 7PM
November 7 – Detroit vs. Toronto, 7PM
November 14 – Calgary vs. Toronto, 7PM
November 21 – Washington vs. Toronto, 7PM
November 28 – Edmonton vs. Vancouver, 10PM
December 5 – Toronto vs. Boston, 7PM
December 12 – Washington vs. Toronto, 7PM
December 19 – Boston vs. Toronto, 7PM
December 26 – Edmonton vs. Vancouver, 10PM
January 2 – No Game due to Winter Classic
January 9 – Pittsburgh vs. Toronto, 7PM
January 16 – Pittsburgh vs. Vancouver, 10PM
January 23 – Chicago vs. Vancouver, 7PM
January 30 – Vancouver vs. Toronto, 7PM
February 6 – Pittsburgh vs. Montreal, 2PM
February 13 – Philadelphia vs. Montreal, 7PM
March 6  – Toronto vs. Ottawa, 7PM
March 13 – Edmonton vs. Toronto, 7PM
March 20 – Montreal vs. Toronto, 7PM

Honestly, if CBC keeps Jim & Craig away from Rangers/Toronto this Saturday (In exchange for New Jersey/Montreal or Vancouver/San Jose) and/or Boston/Toronto next Saturday (for Buffalo/Montreal or, uh, Edmonton/Phoenix), the CBC hasn’t done a bad job with them during the 2nd half of the season.  Will make it a given that Hughson/Simpson work Toronto/Montreal the next-to-last night of the season instead of Calgary/Vancouver, but you never know.

Prior to the anomaly of the three Leafs games in a row (that were all pretty likely ratings grabbers), since Christmas, Hughson’s only worked two of a possible seven Toronto games, a pretty good job of avoiding hockey’s biggest market in Canada.  When you combine this with the fact that CBC’s #1 team should be working a combination of the best games with the biggest potential audience, I’d say the network’s done it’s fair share of getting a solid mix for the game’s smoothest voice.

Morning Music Breakdown

Hey, it’s a non contest-y version of Puck the Media today, but that was fun and we should do it again soon.

New BNL album in stores.  Get ‘er.