Just in Case You Weren’t Aware

Reminder: We’re back Monday full time:

NEW YORK (July 27, 2010) – Representatives from the National Hockey League, the Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Steelers, the National Hockey League Players’ Association, the city of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County gathered today at Heinz Field to discuss plans for the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic®. The League today also unveiled the official logo for the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic and the special team logos for the Penguins and Capitals.

In May, the NHL announced that Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins will battle Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals on New Year’s Day in a regular-season game at Heinz Field, home of the Steelers, at 1 p.m. ET. The NHL’s fiercest rivalry will be re-ignited in the event Forbes magazine calls “the best new sporting event” of the last decade.

The 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic will mark the fourth consecutive season the NHL has played a regular-season outdoor game on New Year’s Day. The Buffalo Sabres hosted the Penguins at Ralph Wilson Stadium on New Year’s Day 2008, the Chicago Blackhawks hosted the Detroit Red Wings at Wrigley Field on New Year’s Day 2009 and the Boston Bruins hosted the Philadelphia Flyers at Fenway Park on New Year’s Day 2010.

“Our players love to participate in this grand celebration of our sport, our fans love to watch it, our broadcasters love to show it and our sponsors are pleased to support it,” said Gary Bettman, NHL Commissioner. “The Capitals and Penguins will write a new chapter in Pittsburgh sports history when the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic comes to Heinz Field on New Year’s Day.”

The Bridgestone brand, the Official Tire of the NHL® and the NHLPA, returns for the third consecutive year as title sponsor. The 2010 event was a magical day at Fenway Park and firmly established the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic as a major national sports property. More than 5.5 million viewers watched the game on North American television, and NHL.com attracted nearly 1 million unique visitors on January 1. Demand for tickets exceeded 307,000 requests, and investment in the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic by NHL corporate marketing partners increased 66% from 2009 with 16 partners spending more than $10 million.

“The Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic has become a tradition of excellence, passion and excitement in the sports world — it’s the same tradition that the Bridgestone brand instills in its products every day,” said Phil Pacsi, Vice President, Consumer Marketing, U.S. & Canada Consumer Tire Sales Sales, Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, (BATO). “Watching one of the NHL’s fiercest rivalries come head-to-head at the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Heinz Field is an event not to be missed, and will be talked about for years to come. We are excited and proud to be part of this new tradition.”

The NHL’s two biggest stars, Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, bring their rivalry to the big stage of the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic. Their rivalry has blossomed into one of the most intriguing individual matchups in all of sports. Both No. 1 overall draft choices (Ovechkin 2004 and Crosby 2005), the superstars have been linked since they entered the League at the same time at the beginning of the 2005-06 NHL season. At the end of that season, Ovechkin won the Calder Trophy as top rookie, with Crosby finishing second.

In 2007, Crosby won the Hart Trophy as League MVP and the Art Ross Trophy as the League’s top scorer. Ovechkin won each of those prestigious awards in 2008 and added a second Hart Trophy, among other accolades, in 2009. The pair has combined to win the last four Ted Lindsay Awards, given to the most outstanding player as voted by the NHL players.

The rivalry reached heightened levels during the 2009 Stanley Cup® Playoffs when the Capitals and Penguins squared off in an epic, seven-game series. Ovechkin and Crosby dominated the series, each displaying a level of skill and leadership that propelled his club. Game 2 in Washington was particularly memorable, as each player netted a hat trick in a scintillating, 4-3 Capitals victory. In the end, the Penguins prevailed in the series and went on to win the Stanley Cup.

The Penguins, the 2009 Stanley Cup champions, boast other top talents in center Evgeni Malkin (2009 Conn Smythe Trophy and 2009 Art Ross Trophy winner) goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and center Jordan Staal. The Capitals, the 2010 Presidents’ Trophy winners, counter with young stars Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Green and Alex Semin.

“On behalf of Mario Lemieux, Ron Burkle and the entire Pittsburgh Penguins organization, I want to tell you how excited we are to host the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Heinz Field. It is a unique opportunity to showcase our city and our region – and our passionate fans — to a national and international audience,” said David Morehouse, Penguins president. “We are honored that the Pittsburgh Steelers have made their great, iconic stadium available to us, so that, on one very special day in January, the home of the six-time Super Bowl champions will be home to some of the greatest hockey players in the world. We also want to thank the NHL and Commissioner Bettman for believing in us, and for their unwavering support of hockey in Pittsburgh. We look forward to seeing you all right here on New Year’s Day.”

“I couldn’t think of a much better way to bring in the New Year than participating in the Winter Classic. Commissioner Bettman and the NHL have created a world-class event to showcase our sport and its players,” said Ted Leonsis, Washington Capitals majority owner. “Since before the drop of the puck at the 2008 Winter Classic, we have wanted to participate in this game, and we are extremely appreciative of the Commissioner’s efforts to make this a reality for our organization and our great fans. This indeed will be a thrill cherished by our players and our fans for a lifetime.”

“NHL players know the thrill of growing up playing hockey outside in the cold, so to have the opportunity to play in the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic in front of thousands of fans in attendance, and millions on TV, will be a really special moment in their careers that they’ll never forget,” said Matt Nussbaum, NHLPA Associate Counsel. “The NHLPA is pleased to support this great annual initiative that promotes our game to new fans and brings the game back to its roots.”

NBC Sports returns as the U.S. broadcaster and provides live HD coverage of the event. In Canada, CBC and RDS will televise the event live. NHL Radio™ and Sirius XM Satellite Radio will provide radio coverage and NHL.com will have extensive digital coverage.

“NBC Sports is proud to have partnered with the NHL on growing this event from an idea to New Year’s Day appointment viewing,” said NBC Sports President Ken Schanzer. “I can’t think of a better way to start the new year than with the NHL’s preeminent rivalry featuring the two best players in the world from the outdoor stadium of one of pro football’s most venerated teams.”

“CBC is thrilled to broadcast the fourth Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic from beautiful Heinz Field,” said Scott Moore, Executive Director, CBC Sports and General Manager of Media Sales and Marketing. “This year’s game will add yet another chapter to Pittsburgh’s rich sports history and reaffirm CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada’s mandate to provide Canadians with the very best in major sports event television.“

Additional information surrounding the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, including ticketing information, will be announced in the coming months. Fans can register online at NHL.com/WinterClassic to receive alerts and ticket information on the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, as well as other NHL news, events and offers. The NHL this year will again work with the host team, the Penguins, to set aside tickets specifically for use by local youth hockey organizations.

“We are happy to partner with the National Hockey League and the Penguins to bring this exciting game to Pittsburgh,” said Steelers President Art Rooney II. “We are looking forward to the energy that outdoor hockey will bring to Heinz Field.”

“We are honored to welcome the National Hockey League’s 2011 Winter Classic and excited for yet another opportunity to showcase our City, thanks to the success of our great sports teams and one-of-a-kind fan base,” Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said. “There’s no better way to ring in a New Year than to host this pre-eminent winter festivity, which symbolizes the resurgence of hockey in this great city. From the Penguins’ 2008-09 Stanley Cup championship season, to the opening of the CONSOL Energy Center next season, the Classic will be another historic highlight to continue the legacy of the current Pittsburgh Penguins team.”

“We are excited that the NHL has chosen Heinz Field to host the 2011 Winter Classic between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals,” said Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato. “We will have another opportunity to showcase our great region, our passionate fans and our outstanding team. Our young talent has brought international attention to our region, as well as a third Stanley Cup. We are thrilled to once again be a part of this New Year’s Day tradition.”

The NHL this season will play an outdoor regular-season game in Canada. The NHL Heritage Classic™ will be played at McMahon Stadium in Calgary on Sunday, February 20 and feature the Montreal Canadiens and Calgary Flames. It will be the first regular-season NHL game contested outdoors in Canada since the Edmonton Oilers hosted the Canadiens at Commonwealth Stadium on November 22, 2003.


NHL Net to Air Winter Classic Presser Tuesday

(Reminder: Puck the Media returns from hiatus August 2nd, featuring an EXCLUSIVE interview with Bill Daly, Deputy Commissioner of the NHL).

At least if the NHL Network can’t keep an eye on the Kovalchuk mess, they can produce this, which was excellent fun last year in Boston.

On Tuesday at Noon, the NHL will announce the details of the 2011 Winter Classic at Heinz Feild in Pittsburgh.  NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, Steelers owner Art Rooney, Penguins chairman Mario Lemieux, GM Ray Shero, and players Sidney Crosby, Max Talbot and Pascal Dupuis will be there.  Also in attendance from the Capitals will be GM George McPhee, and players Mike Knuble and David Steckel.  The mayor of Pittsburgh, Luke Ravenstahl and NBC Sports Executive Producer Sam Flood will also be a part of the announcement.

NHL Network will televise the event, in which the team logos for the game will be revealed, at Noon ET.

Puck the Media Contest: Win a Copy of the 2009-10 Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup Championship DVD!


We’ll return with new material on August 2nd, but for now a contest.

Would you like to win a copy of the 2009-10 Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup Championship DVD?  Well, here’s a trivia contest for you to do it:

  • Name all five skaters on the ice for Patrick Kane’s overtime winning goal in Game 6.
  • Give me their goals, assists and points for both the regular season and post-season.
  • Tell me how many penalty minutes goaltender Antii Niemi had during the regular season and playoffs.

First person to give me the complete correct answers at SMLepore@comcast.net (Do NOT leave your answer in the comments, it will be ignored) will win a copy of the DVD courtesy of Warner Home Video and the NHL.  Good luck!

Oh, Hey There: The NHL’s Blu-Ray Initiative

New York, NY – Today the National Hockey League (NHL) and Giant Interactive announced the NHL’s inaugural Blu-ray Disc, The Chicago Blackhawks’ 2010 Stanley Cup® Championship. This release will be the first in major league sports to be BD-Live-enabled, powered by BD-Connect™.

The 2010 Chicago Blackhawks® Stanley Cup® Championship Blu-ray Disc, which hits stores on July 20, will deliver its BD-Live experience with downloadable content and expanded bonus features, including the latest features and interviews from Blackhawks TV and updated news from the Blackhawks and the NHL.

“When planning this year’s commemorative Stanley Cup release, we recognized the potential for BD-Live to enhance the fan experience,” noted Dave McCarthy, VP, Integrated Marketing. “BD-Connect will enable the 2010 Stanley Cup Championship Blu-ray Disc to deliver a fresh experience every time it plays in a connected Blu-ray Disc player, offering a whole new way for fans to interact with NHL content.”

Though other sports leagues, including the NFL and MLB, have released Blu-ray discs in the past, the NHL® is the first to embrace the full potential of the web interactivity offered by the rapidly-growing Blu-ray format. “BD-Connect was the perfect BD-Live solution for the NHL”, noted Jeff Stabenau, President of Giant Interactive. “It’s the easiest BD-Live technology to implement, it’s pre-configured with more features than competing solutions and it’s ready to go.”

BD-Connect is a complete BD-Live solution for delivery of creative content along with marketing and community building features. A highly scalable architecture with Akamai edge server content delivery allows for rapid loading of BD-Live components and full screen progressive streaming video. Easy to implement, BD-Connect offers numerous out-of-the-box features, including many found on this inaugural release.

BD-Connect is used on more Blu-ray Discs worldwide than any other BD-Live platform,” noted Roger Baker, Director of Business Development at Giant Interactive, “and we’re excited to see this technology being used to create such dynamic channels of communication with viewers.”

Like prior Stanley Cup Championship releases, the Blu-ray will feature a highlights program recapping the Blackhawks’ 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs run. Both the DVD and Blu-ray will be available on July 20.

New Preds TV Deal Could Be an Eventual Winner For Nashville Hockey Fans

Nashville, Tenn. (July 7, 2010) – The National Hockey League’s Nashville Predators, the team’s television broadcast partner FOX Sports Tennessee and its sister station SportSouth announced today a new four-year broadcast deal that will see the networks televise 60 Nashville Predators regular-season games this season (2010-11), 65 regular-season games during years two (2011-12) and three (2012-13) and 70 games in the fourth year (2013-14) of the deal. The goal in year one of the agreement is to broadcast a minimum of 45 games in high definition, with increases each year thereafter.

“We had two primary goals as we entered negotiations for this new broadcast deal,” Nashville Predators Executive Vice President Chris Parker said. “We wanted to increase the number of games and we also wanted to increase the rights fee paid to the Predators for those games. We are excited to say that we accomplished both goals. For the first time in franchise history we will broadcast more than 55 games in a regular season, starting with 60 this year and up to 70 in the final year of the deal. Additionally, we increased our overall rights fee substantially. FOX has been a tremendous partner since Day One and they continue to see increased value in the Predators, their fans and the NHL as a broadcast product.”

Sixty Predators games will be broadcast between FOX Sports Tennessee and SportSouth this season, reaching cable and satellite households across Tennessee, Kentucky and northern portions of Alabama and Mississippi. Additionally, the Predators deal was an integral component in helping FOX Sports Tennessee get SportSouth added to the channel lineup on Comcast Cable in Nashville.

The FOX Sports Tennessee broadcast duo of play-by-play announcer Pete Weber and color analyst Terry Crisp enter their thirteenth season calling Predators action. In addition to game telecasts, Weber and Crisp will continue to co-host Predators LIVE, an expended postgame-coverage program on FOX Sports Tennessee featuring highlights, analysis and postgame interviews. Predators players and personnel will also be featured in FOX Sports Tennessee original programs Predators Snapshot and Under the Lights.

FOX Sports Tennessee has been a Predators broadcast partner since the inaugural season. Look for the full 2010-2011 Nashville Predators broadcast schedule to be released in the coming months.

NHL Awards, NHL Draft Score Modest Numbers

According to Sports Media Watch, the NHL Draft on VERSUS drew 201,000 viewers a week ago on Friday, while two days before, the NHL Awards drew 206,000 viewers.  The telecasts were beaten by an Indiana/Washington WNBA game on ESPN2 (251,000 viewers), an Indy Car race on VERSUS (400,000 viewers), an MLB Network game (303,000 viewers), 7AM coverage of Wimbledon on ESPN2 (393,000 viewers) and the NBA Free Agency Summit on ESPN (925,000 viewers), but did beat a head-to-head Arena Football game on the NFL Network (58,000 viewers).  Not trying to be negative, just noting that it’s sort of curious that, with all the NHL’s attention drawn on this and all the viewing parties, that numbers were this low.

(Additional info from pifeedback.com)