Mike Milbury and Others Hit the Studio as VERSUS Begins Another NHL Season

NEW YORK, N.Y. (October 5, 2010)—VERSUS will drop the puck on the 2010/11 NHL regular season, and its sixth year of on-ice action, with an unprecedented amount of coverage featuring nine games across the first seven days of the season. The network’s coverage begins with a triple-header on Thursday when the Carolina Hurricanes battle the Minnesota Wild from Helsinki, Finland, at 12 p.m. ET, followed by a Keystone State showdown between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers at 7 p.m. ET before finishing the night with a match-up featuring the Colorado Avalanche and 2010 Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks at 10 p.m. ET. Every NHL game on VERSUS is available in HD.

The first week of coverage continues with three additional overseas games from Helsinki; Stockholm, Sweden and Prague, Czech Republic on Friday and Saturday afternoon. The network will then feature exclusive coverage of the Colorado Avalanche/Detroit Red Wings contest on October 12 at 7:30 p.m. ET in VERSUS’ regularly-scheduled Tuesday night slot, as well as games on Wednesday (New York Islanders at Washington Capitals, 7 p.m. ET) and Thursday night (Tampa Bay Lightning at Philadelphia Flyers, 7 p.m. ET), marking the first time in network history that bonus games will be played during the opening week.

During each NHL season, VERSUS always seeks to institute production enhancements to provide an even better viewing experience for fans. After receiving huge acclaim for utilizing a hi-motion super slow mo camera during the 2010 postseason, VERSUS will add this technology, which provides viewers with greater in-game analysis, to select games throughout the regular season.

The network’s studio show, Hockey Central, with host Bill Patrick and analysts Keith Jones and Brian Engblom will wrap up each night of NHL coverage. In addition, VERSUS is increasing its on-air studio presence by adding pre-game shows before 30 game telecasts this season, starting on October 7 at 6:30 p.m. ET. The added pre-game shows will allow the network to air additional features profiling the on- and off-ice personalities of the players in a more in-depth and complete manner.

Last year Hockey Central featured high-profile guest analysts during regular season coverage and will continue to feature guests on select telecasts this year. Darren McCarty, 17-year NHL veteran and four-time Stanley Cup Champion with the Detroit Red Wings, will once again join the studio team as will Aaron Ward, who secured three Stanley Cup Champion titles during his 13 years in the NHL. The studio show will also feature Mike Milbury, currently an analyst for NHL telecasts on NBC and CBC and whose NHL tenure included a 12-season career with the Boston Bruins and as GM of the Islanders, on several telecasts. Dave Maloney, who played in the NHL for 11 seasons and was the youngest player to serve as Captain for the New York Rangers, will also make in-studio appearances.

Shortly after announcing the 2010/11 regular season schedule, VERSUS picked up an additional bonus game which will feature the Florida Panthers at the Washington Capitals on December 9. This addition brings VERSUS’ total number of games to 79, 14 more than last season, including 53 exclusive games and 26 bonus games.

The network will also air All-Star weekend and cap off the final week of the regular season with a game each night (Monday-Friday) leading into the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs. One major addition to VERSUS’ 2010/11 regular season schedule is coverage of the NHL Heritage Classic between the Montreal Canadiens and Calgary Flames from McMahon Stadium on Sunday, February 20, at 6 p.m. ET. This game, which is the first outdoor game in Canada since 2003, is also the first outdoor game ever broadcast on cable in the United States. For the network’s complete schedule, visit http://www.VERSUS.com.

VERSUS is entering the 2010/11 regular season with a ton of momentum based on tremendous ratings and viewership successes last season. The network saw a 33-percent spike in HH ratings and a 20-percent increase in average viewership for the final six weeks of exclusive regular season game coverage as compared to the season prior. In the postseason, the Conference Quarterfinal and Semifinal rounds were the most-watched first two rounds on cable since NHL Playoff viewership became available by Nielsen in the 1993/94 season, Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final made VERSUS the most-watched cable network in the country while Games 3 and 4 of the Stanley Cup Final averaged 3.369 million viewers, up five percent over the 2009 average (3.212 million viewers). Overall, last year’s postseason was the most-watched on cable since 2002.

VERSUS 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 airs NASCAR, NBA, UFC, college football and college basketball programming. The network is home to the best outdoor programming on television and airs original programs not available anywhere else, including The Daily Line and The T.Ocho Show. VERSUS, a wholly owned company of Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ: CMCSA, CMCSK), is distributed via cable systems and satellite operators throughout the United States.

With the NHL Net Schedule Out, Your Official NHL TV Schedule in the US for the 2010-11 Season

Enjoy the hockey, everyone! After the jump!

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Part 1 of Puck the Media’s 2010-11 NHL Preview, Presented By Hoobastank, The Greatest Band in the History of the World, Ever

Welcome to Part 1 of Puck the Media’s two-part NHL Season Preview for 2010-11. Hope you enjoy gobbing heaps – or heaping gobs – of irony!

When I was a young boy, age of 12, I was confused. I didn’t know where I fit in, and I was struggling to find myself in this crazy world. Then, one day, in a store called Best Buy, I found a CD with one only one word on it. It was a word that changed my life, and the lives of millions of others.

Hoobastank.

“Wow,” I said “they must be the greatest band ever. No band would ever be allowed to have a record contract or any measure of success with a name that terrible.” Little did I know how right I was. Hoobastank went on to change lives, sell out stadiums, and sell over thousands of hundreds of albums throughout the past decade. I’ve long wondered how I can pay tribute to them.

Then, it dawned on me. I can combine my two greatest loves – the wonderful sport of hockey and the wonderful bro-rock of Hoobastank – by making a combo preview. Hoobastank and hockey – together at last! Huzzah!

So, I sent out a few feelers. I tried to e-mail the members of Hoobastank to see if they could help me in my quest. I really wanted to get the hockey knowledge of lead singer, Doug Robb.

He’s a brilliant, passionate poet who wrote words that licked my delicate soul, such as:

But its not all about you,
all about you,
the more you speak the less I care about
you, you, you, YOU!!!

Gah, what human being who hasn’t developed any worldview or cultural taste wouldn’t flock to that en masse? It’s what’s made Hoobastank the multi-billion platinum-selling alt-bro-rockers they are today. In fact, Mr. Robb is a hockey fan, having written about the NHL lockout back in 2005, as the inspiration for the song “If I Were You.”:

” ‘If I Were You …’ was really inspired by, um, the NHL strike. Not like ‘Oh, I’m going to write a song about hockey!’ but watching all that — and going on tour with Velvet Revolver — you see all these guys who have so much and don’t appreciate it,” he said. “They seem to have forgotten where they came from. Actually, let me rephrase that: Four of those guys were the coolest ever, one of them is just in his own world. And I’ll leave it at that.”

Here’s the song it inspired:

Isn’t that great and not self-serving or indulgent coming from a multi-millionaire post-grungee? Guys? Bueller?

So, when I sent out the feelers, I got a response from a PR person. She said that Mr. Robb was “unable to afford a computer at the moment, due to irreconcilable differences with his previous PC.” I was stunned that the computer world was trying to fight my poet-laureate hero, and thought about then and there quitting using technology for the rest of my life.

Then, two things happened. 1. I realized I could no longer listen to music, or Hoobastank, if I went ahead with that. 2. I realized there was more to the letter. Mr. Robb was willing to give his brief, but valuable thoughts on all 30 teams if I was willing to accept his responses via carrier pigeon.

Then I waited for the summer for all of them to arrive, and yesterday, the last of them did! So now we can begin with the preview! Day one is the East, day two is the West. Much like Hoobastank, you’ll be left wondering what the hell you just listened to at the end. Enjoy.

15. Florida Panthers

Why They’re Here: Because I literally can’t name a player on this team other than Scott Clemmensen.

Will Make the Playoffs If: Hell freezes over.

Won’t Make the Playoffs If: Anything other than that happens.

Hoobastank song to describe them: “Up and Gone”

Hoobastank lead singer Doug Robb says: “Aw shoot, I remember when we shot the awful video for this song. I was tellin’ the director, like ‘dude, doesn’t this look exactly like that Incubus video?’ and he was like ‘doesn’t everything you do look like an Incubus video?’ and I was like ‘touche’ and then I ate a sandwich.”

14. Atlanta Thrashers

Why They’re Here: Because they traded for all the parts of the Blackhawks that will be great second gear players in the playoffs, but none of the players that actually helped get them there.

Will Make the Playoffs If: The defense continues to grow and mesh into the promising unit they appear to be, and if the pieces all do meld together correctly, and a few unexpected names reach 30 goals. Looking at you, Niclas Bergfors.

Won’t Make the Playoffs If: Zach Bogosian is their leading scorer, and if neither goalie manages to hit 55 games.

Hoobastank song to describe them: “Pieces”.

Hoobastank lead singer Doug Robb says: “Aw, brah, I totally love going to Atlanta man. Greatest city on Earth. They got hockey there now? Oh, they’ll be fine as long as Dominique Wilkins is still on the team. He was great for the Falcons last year, too.”

13. Toronto Maple Leafs

Why They’re Here: Because I just don’t see them being better than these other 12 teams. I feel like a lot of people rank them higher than they should be because they’re afraid Brian Burke will eat them.

Will Make the Playoffs If: Kessel scores 50 goals, and that isn’t the most on the team by more than 20.

Won’t Make the Playoffs If: Brian Burke eats Phil Kessel.

Hoobastank song to describe them: “Crawling in the Dark”

Hoobastank lead singer Doug Robb says: “Aw dip, Toronto, Canada? They got hockey in Canada now? That’s alright. Well brah, I been to Canada before, and it’s a pretty serious place. They got 10 or 15 bands that sound exactly like us, and they were like ‘Pft, we don’t need to hear no Americans do this shit, we got Hedley.’ Hedley was nice though. We didn’t go back to Canada though. We’re more of a success in a place like Japan, where the entire country doesn’t get English.’

12. New York Islanders

Why They’re Here: They were here before all the injuries, I’m just trying to be fair.

Will Make the Playoffs If: Tavares keeps them afloat til’ December, DiPietro stays healthy.

Won’t Make the Playoffs If: DiPietro stays healthy until about 16 seconds into game one.

Hoobastank song to describe them: “Too Little Too Late”

Hoobastank lead singer Doug Robb says: “Aw bro, what is this, Nino Niedereitter? That’s some crazy razzmatazz right there. We had a bass player named Markuu Lappalainen, in fact, his middle name was Hoobastank. Ya dig me? We use the middle name of a guy who isn’t even in the band anymore! Can we get more punk rock? I love turkeys.”

11. New York Rangers

Why They’re Here: Because I’m a hater. Also, I don’t think Gaborik stays healthy another year, which I guess is another example of me being a hater. But you don’t look to me for expert stuff.

Will Make the Playoffs If: Gaborik scores 50 and the defense continues to develop. Lundqvist gets decent backup from Martin Biron.

Won’t Make the Playoffs If: Wade Redden comes back.

Hoobastank song to describe them: “Running Away”

Hoobastank lead singer Doug Robb says: “Yo dudebrah, you know how the guitar player in that video’s playing an electric guitar but the whole first verse is acoustic? Guess what? He’s not really playing guitar at all! It’s just a backing track! What’s this, another New York team? Are they like the Mets or the Yankees?”

10. Montreal Canadiens

Why They’re Here: Jesus Price will not save your soul.

Will Make the Playoffs If: Another goalie pops up, or Brian Gionta and Mike Cammalieri somehow recreate their playoff magic.

Won’t Make the Playoffs If: Scott Gomez’s dad makes statements in the media.

Hoobastank song to describe them: “Out of Control”

Hoobastank lead singer Doug Robb says: “Another Canada team? It’s like they like hockey like I love a good cherry pie up there in the Canadaland. This reminds of a time when we played a gig in Japan, and they love us there, we’re like the hockey of Japan. Nobody else really likes us anymore.”

9. Carolina Hurricanes

Why They’re Here: I feel like they could be a surprise team for the first half, but they’ll fade to the back once things get tough.

Will Make the Playoffs If: Cam Ward has another ridiculous season.

Won’t Make the Playoffs If: There’s another Devils season to ruin.

Hoobastank song to describe them: “So Close, So Far”

Hoobastank lead singer Doug Robb says: “Man, this song is tight! I’m glad you picked it for Carolina, because I love me a hurricane. You know, some people say our band is the reason natural disasters happen! What a complement, those things are crazy, just like our band.”

8. Ottawa Senators

Why They’re Here: Like all #8 picks, they’re a team you don’t really know all that much about, but you like them a little more than your other bubble teams, and I like Daniel Alfredsson.

Will Make the Playoffs If: They get at least semi-competent goaltending.

Won’t Make the Playoffs If: If the loss of Volchenkov is more gaping than anyone originally thought.

Hoobastank song to describe them: “Same Direction”

Hoobastank lead singer Doug Robb says: “Brodawg, where the high hell is Ottawa? Man, you just making up cities now. I remember what time, we were in some place called ‘Alabama’? I mean, that’s gotta’ be made up. Tell you what’s not made up: Japanese girls. Those girls are my thing, and the only girls that recognize me as a celebrity. Sweet.”

7. Tampa Bay Lightning

Why They’re Here: I think Vinny Lecavalier’s due for a rebound season, and they have the core to support him if he does. A lot better than I think even the people that have them pegged as a surprise team do.

Will Make the Playoffs If: If Steven Stamkos turns into one of the league’s elite, consistent snipers.

Won’t Make the Playoffs If: If they start having #DanEllisProblems.

Hoobastank song to describe them: “Inside of You”

Hoobastank lead singer Doug Robb says: “Lecavalier? That’s another one of them funny names. Hockey sure has a bunch of funny names, reminds me of being in Europe. Do they have Europeans in hockey? I love Europeans. Malaria is a terrible disease.”

6. Buffalo Sabers

Why They’re Here: They always seem to sneak in, but I don’t see them as much of a team outside of Miller, one of the biggest goaltending talents of his generation.

Will Make the Playoffs If: Ryan Miller is Ryan Miller.

Won’t Make the Playoffs If: If Ryan Miller is not Ryan Miller. Simple as that.

Hoobastank song to describe them: “Disappear”

Hoobastank lead singer Doug Robb says: “Man, back in the days when we used to tour with Incubus, it was rough. Because nobody knew that we were actually a different band and not just Incubus wanting to keep a toe in the ‘awful, lame, bland rock’ genre when they went on to better things. Buffalo reminds me of that time.”

5. Philadelphia Flyers

Why They’re Here: The Flyers were pesky all of last year, and they will be again this year, despite obvious goaltending flaws. Hasn’t mattered in the past.

Will Make the Playoffs If: They use fewer than 14 goalies.

Won’t Make the Playoffs If: Chris Pronger continues to show the fatigue he showed in the playoffs.

Hoobastank song to describe them: “Face the Music”

Hoobastank lead singer Doug Robb says: “Philadelphia Flyers. Man, I saw an HBO show on them before they caught me stealin’ my neighbor’s cable package. They were cool as hell. Are some of those guys on this team?”

4. Pittsburgh Penguins

Why They’re Here: I don’t think they’re as good a regular season team as New Jersey, however, I see them likely making another legitimate run to at least the Eastern Final.

Will Make the Playoffs If: Jordan Staal manages 50 points.

Won’t Make the Playoffs If: Sidney Crosby manages 50 points.

Hoobastank song to describe them: “More Than a Memory (Part II)”

Hoobastank lead singer Doug Robb says: “Can you believe we have a song in two parts? That I actually couldn’t finish my thought into one terribly bland song and had to begin another? Unbelievable. But the fans love it. Japan loves two part songs. I love sushi.”

3. Boston Bruins

Why They’re Here: They’re just slightly better than everyone else in the Northeast. I have a feeling we might hear more than one “Northeast is the new Southeast” jokes this year.

Will Make the Playoffs If: They continue to play Claude Julien’s system, which has proven successful during the regular season.

Won’t Make the Playoffs If: The memory of 2009 hangs over them.

Hoobastank song to describe them:

Hoobastank lead singer Doug Robb says: “Aw, Boston’s a great city, because they literally have no discerning taste in music. They’re so into sports, they don’t really care if you’re a good band or not. It’s just something to do on an off night from some sports thing. Incidentally, they’re one of our most dedicated fanbases.”

2. New Jersey Devils

Why They’re Here: They destroyed my summer, I’m deluding myself into thinking they’ll be better than last year no matter what.

Will Make the Playoffs If: Ilya Kovalchuk scores 600 goals this season.

Won’t Make the Playoffs If: Anything less is unacceptable.

Hoobastank song to describe them: “New Jersey? Next question.”

Hoobastank lead singer Doug Robb says:

1. Washington Capitals

Why They’re Here: Because the window is never going to be more wide open than it is now.

Will Make the Playoffs If: They play every game on one skate.

Won’t Make the Playoffs If: Ovechkin goes down for the entire season.

Hoobastank song to describe them: “The Reason”

Hoobastank lead singer Doug Robb says: “Aw, you posted ‘The Reason’! The only song of ours that both your 10-year old brother and his 60-year old grandma likes. And you did it for your #1 team. Aw, this is gonna’ make our next record sell, like, six and half copies!”

Tomorrow: See if you can bear with me for the Western Conference.