Your Announcers and Open Thread for Devils-Capitals

New Jersey vs. Washington, 7:30 PM ET, VERSUS (HD)
Play by Play:
Joe Beninati
Color: Darren Eliot
Reporter: Bob Harwood

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NBC Conference Call Highlights

NEW YORK – Dec. 21, 2010 – Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins host Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals in the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic from Heinz Field, home of the Pittsburgh Steelers, on New Year’s Day airing live at 1 p.m. ET on NBC. The game will also be live streamed on NBCSports.com, a first for the Winter Classic.

 

Bob Costas will host the event for NBC Sports and will be joined for coverage by Mike “Doc” Emrick, (play-by-play), Eddie Olczyk (game analyst), Pierre McGuire (inside-the-glass analyst) and Mike Milbury (studio analyst).

 

NBC Sports conducted a media conference call today with Costas, Emrick, Olczyk, Milbury, and Sam Flood (NBC Sports’ executive producer). For a complete replay, dial 719-457-0820 and enter passcode 2809034. Follow are highlights:

 

Costas on NBC Sports’ coverage approach: “The way we approach this at NBC Sports is that we want it to be a broadcast that appeals to knowledgeable, hard core hockey fans, but at the same time recognizes that this an event which draws in a lot of casual fans, who probably won’t watch much hockey outside of this game, maybe the Stanley Cup Final and Olympic hockey.

 

“You have to capture the atmospherics of it, some of the back-stories, something that will draw in the person that isn’t necessarily watching the NHL night in and night out, which is not unlike how we cover the Kentucky Derby. Those who know how to read a racing form enjoy our coverage. Those who don’t follow horseracing outside of the Triple Crown events enjoy it as well. That’s how we approach this event.”

 

Flood on the Winter Classic as an event: “The key word that Bob said right off the bat is ‘event.’ We cover it like an event. It’s much more than a hockey game and we want to celebrate it, celebrate the sport, celebrate the two stars in the game as well as both teams and the city of Pittsburgh.”

 

Emrick on the buzz around the game: “I can’t run into anybody around our sport that doesn’t tell me what they’re going to be doing on the afternoon of this game. Invariably, it’s watching it. Even players who are going to be playing in other games on New Year’s Day say that they’re going to be watching it, too.”

 

Olczyk on being a part of the Winter Classic: “It’s a great day for hockey…..for the city of Pittsburgh and a great rivalry between Ovechkin and Crosby and the Capitals and the Penguins. To be a part of it is certainly a privilege.”

 

Milbury on the host cities: “I think they get incredibly excited. Each of the towns where these events have been held gets incredibly buzzed about it. I’ve been to the last three of these things and each one of them had their own qualities, but each one of them a ton of fun for everybody that is involved. There are a lot of games in the NHL season, some of them I don’t get too wired up about, but this one is well marked on my calendar.”

 

Costas on history of the event: “This has become an anticipated New Year’s Day event. At the first one, in Buffalo with Pittsburgh and the Sabres going at it, we benefited from the snow, that snow globe affect that people found so compelling, and also the overtime goal from Sidney Crosby to win it. Then we took it to the iconic baseball stadiums: first Wrigley and then Fenway. Now, although we are in a new stadium and a football stadium, Heinz Field, we have the matchup of Crosby and Ovechkin. Each of these games has had … something different to make it stand out.”

 

Emrick on the uniqueness of the Winter Classic: “We don’t normally do games that have low-flying aircrafts, meteorologists and the threat of rain or snow that might affect the outcome of the game.”

 

Costas on the first Winter Classic setting the stage: “It more than got us off on the right foot, it sent us off flying. Even though we got a surprisingly high rating for a regular-season hockey game, the buzz was beyond the rating. People were talking about it for a long time afterward and that’s hard to measure. You can’t measure precisely, but you can definitely feel it and sense it. Within one year, it wasn’t building towards something that had standing as a yearly event, it became that in the space of one day.”

 

Emrick on playing outdoors: “It’s also the joy of playing outdoors and any player you run into whether European or North American recounts tales about playing outdoors on frozen ponds. I know that sort of becomes a redundant poetry that we have every time at this time of year, but I think it’s also necessary to convey what this event is like in the lives of players and also those of us who are able to watch them on a regular basis when they play indoors.”

 

Milbury on playing outdoors: “There is a quote from Bobby Orr about this day being a celebration of hockey and that’s really what it is. For some of those who are old enough to remember skating on the ponds, it is a throwback kind of a game, but for many of the present players, they never played outdoors. This is almost old timers day for young people.”

 

Costas on competing against bowl games: “The landscape has changed. Because the Winter Classic has worked out so well the first three years, it can more than hold its own.”

 

Emrick on the rivalry: “The one thing that we do have are two teams that really care about winning the game from one another. It’s about winning the contest. It’s about not really caring a lot about each other because there is quite a rivalry that goes back 20-25 years into the Mario Lemieux era between Washington and Pittsburgh.”

 

Flood on producing this year’s game: “We’re going to line up a lot like a normal football game. Doc and Eddie will be in the stands at the back of the lower section of seats so that they’ll be in the elements and experience the game as the players are, except they’re not going to be hit. Then we’ve got iso cameras, one for Sidney and one for Ovechkin, as well as a high camera in one of the end zone’s up on top of the scoreboard, which gets an incredible shot of downtown Pittsburgh that can then turn into the stadium and show the game.

 

“The important thing here is to show the game from a much wider perspective. It’s not a hockey game, it’s an event. Our goal is to capture how big it is and how different it is to have a multitude of people sitting in these stands and cheering for these two teams and, I’d imagine, a towel of a certain color waving in the stands. Things like that will make it different. There will be an extra six cameras than what we had for the Stanley Cup Final games. We really go all out to have as many cameras and machines to capture the total day.

 

“We’ve added a CableCam for the first time ever, which will capture some of the speed and also some of the scene. That’s the important thing, to let people know that there is something about this that is much more than a hockey game.

 

“CableCam is a camera used in football games that flies over the play so we can move it up and down, along the boards, move it up in the stands. Wherever we want to be to capture the event and capture some of the speed of hockey, which will be one of the fun things we get to do with it. We can follow a rush up ice and see what Ovechkin is doing as he brings the puck into the zone from an angle you haven’t seen before. We’ll do the same thing with Crosby. That should add something in addition to our normal iso cam.

 

“Once again we’ll have an airplane. That was a thrill in Buffalo doing the first replay in history of a goal from an airplane angle.”

 

 

My Dad Asked Me Not to Swear on the Blog Anymore, So I Can’t Adequately Say How Horrifyingly Awful Winter Classic Musical Performers Are

NEW YORK (December 21, 2010) – The 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® will feature an exciting mix of musical performers for the highly anticipated outdoor game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh on New Year’s Day, the National Hockey League announced today. The youngest among this year’s performers will be Jackie Evancho, the 10-year old singing sensation from Pittsburgh who gained notoriety for her big voice on NBC’s America’s Got Talent. Evancho joins a line-up that includes Juno award-winning singer Steven Page, multi-platinum selling rock band Hinder and Pittsburgh-based rock band The Clarks.

 

“The Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic is as much a celebration of the host city as it is a celebration of the roots of the game,” said Brian Jennings, NHL Executive Vice President of Marketing. “This year’s performers have strong ties to hockey and to the city of Pittsburgh, which will add an extra level of excitement for fans at Heinz Field at home.”

 

Jackie Evancho – U.S. national anthem

Evancho, a fan of her hometown Penguins, will perform the U.S. national anthem prior to the start of the game. Evancho became an instant star during her first on-air performance of Puccini’s “O Mio Babbino Caro” on the NBC talent show. Following her second place finish in the talent competition, she made numerous national TV appearances, gaining millions of fans. Soon after the November 16 release of her seasonal CD/DVD debut, O Holy Night (Columbia), the album entered the Billboard 200 at No. 2, securing Evancho’s position as 2010’s top-selling debut artist and the youngest female solo artist to debut during the Soundscan era. Evancho recently received her first platinum certification by the RIAA in recognition of sales of more than 1 million.

 

Steven Page – Canadian national anthem

Singer Steven Page will perform the Canadian national anthem. A former lead singer and founding member of Canadian rock band Barenaked Ladies, Page recently released his solo album, Page One (Anthem/Universal). Originally from Scarborough, Ontario, Page’s music career spans more than 20 years, amassing top music honors including six Juno Awards, four MuchMusic Video Awards, two Billboard Music Award honors and two Grammy Award nominations.

 

“I’m honored to have been asked to sing the Canadian anthem at this year’s NHL Winter Classic in the great outdoors in one of my favorite cities – Pittsburgh,” said Page.

 

Hinder – pre-game

Multi-platinum selling rock band Hinder will open the historic outdoor game at Heinz Field with a live performance. Originally from Oklahoma City, the band has sold more than 3 million albums in the U.S. with their two previous releases, Extreme Behavior and Take It To The Limit. For the past five years, the band has toured the world continuously, reinvigorating the rock community with its infectious party lifestyle. Hinder’s epic 2006 debut album, Extreme Behavior, became a mainstay on the Billboard Top 200 Album charts for more than 70 weeks, launching five successful singles, including the multi-format No. 1 smash hit, “Lips Of An Angel.“ Their sophomore release, Take It To The Limit (Universal), debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 and included hits “Use Me” and the Top 40 smash and video hit, “Without You.” Hinder’s third studio album, All American Nightmare (Universal), was released on December 7, 2010 and debuted at No. 1 on the iTunes Rock Chart and No. 6 on the iTunes Singles Chart. The first single, “All American Nightmare,” is a Top 10 track at Rock Radio and the video has more than 500,000 views on Vevo and YouTube.

 

“We are thrilled to be a part of such a special and unique event. It will be an honor for us to be able to perform in front of 68,000 people at Heinz Field,” said lead singer Austin Winkler. This will be an experience we will never forget!”

 

The Clarks – first intermission

Born out of the Pittsburgh region, The Clarks have been making music for almost 25 years, selling out venues across the country and performing on a variety of TV shows including the Late Show with David Letterman. In 2009, The Clarks released their first full length album in five years, Restless Days (Clark House Ent/Fontana). Featuring their signature sound of straight-ahead, guitar-driven rock, the album included a rollicking cover of “What A Wonderful World,” which was commissioned by the Pittsburgh Penguins and used as part of the marketing campaign for their 2008-09 Stanley Cup winning season. Restless Days earned the band its highest ever Billboard chart debut and they were dubbed “Pittsburgh’s finest rock band” by USA TODAY. Most recently, the band released an EP called Songs In G which features reworked versions of a few of their classic songs as chosen by fans. The Pittsburgh City Council has declared December 29, 2010 “The Clarks Day” as the band will celebrate their 2000th show that night at Pittsburgh’s newest venue, Stage AE.

 

“The Clarks are thrilled to be Pittsburgh’s musical ambassadors for this year’s Winter Classic,” said bassist Greg Joseph. “It’s an honor to be a part of such an amazing sporting event and to give it a little hometown flavor.”

 

About the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic

The countdown to the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, the much-anticipated outdoor match-up between the Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins and Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh on New Year’s Day, has begun. Now an established tradition on the New Year’s Day sports calendar, Forbes magazine named the NHL Winter Classic the “best new sporting event” of the last decade. The 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, a celebration of the sport of hockey and a return to its roots, will be the fourth regular-season outdoor NHL game played in the U.S. and the fifth overall.

 

There are multiple ways for fans throughout North America to tune-in on New Year’s Day. NBC will provide live broadcast coverage of the game in the U.S. at 1:00 p.m. ET / noon CT. In Canada, CBC and RDS will televise the event live. NHL Radio™, SIRIUS XM Satellite Radio will carry the live radio coverage and NHL.com will provide extensive digital video coverage. NHL Network™ will offer all-access pre-game programming live from Pittsburgh beginning on December 30th, including full live coverage of each team practice on Dec. 31 as the players hit the ice at Heinz Field for the first time; on Jan. 1, NHL Network will be first on the scene with full pre- and post-game coverage live from Heinz Field.

 

Gary Thorne, Billy Jaffe to Be Part of NHL Net’s World Junior Coverage

From USA Hockey:

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – NHL Network U.S. will provide exclusive live coverage of all U.S. National Junior Team games at the 2011 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship, Dec. 26 – Jan. 5, in Buffalo, N.Y. NHL Network U.S. will also televise all medal-round games and five additional preliminary-round match-ups, airing a total of 15 games in high definition from the tournament. All U.S. games will be NHL Network original broadcasts. In addition, NHL Network will provide nightly recaps on its signature show “NHL On the Fly.”

Gary Thorne, Dave Starman, Fred Pletsch and Billy Jaffe will make up the broadcast team for the NHL Network’s coverage of Team USA games.

Thorne, who will handle play-by-play duties, boasts over 30 years of sports broadcasting experience. He served a 12-year stint (1992-2004) as the voice of ESPN’s NHL telecasts and was also the lead hockey play-by-play voice of NBC’s 2002 Olympic Winter Games coverage. Thorne currently serves as the play-by-play voice for Major League Baseball’s Baltimore Orioles, and provides play-by-play for Major League Baseball on ESPN Radio.

Starman, who will serve as the analyst, is currently the lead analyst for CBS College Sports coverage of NCAA hockey. He served as the analyst for the NHL Network’s coverage of Team USA’s games at the 2009 and 2010 IIHF World Junior Championship as well.

Pletsch, who will serve as the rinkside reporter in the preliminary round for the third straight year, is in his 11th season as an analyst on the Central Collegiate Hockey Association Game of the Week on Fox Sports Detroit. He has also worked as a sideline reporter for ESPN during the NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Championship and is currently the associate commissioner of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association.

Billy Jaffe, who will serve as the rinkside reporter for the medal round, regularly contributes to the popular “NHL Live!” show simulcast on Sirius XM Radio and NHL Network, the Network’s “NHL On the Fly,” and serves as the color analyst and in-studio for NHL on VERSUS.

A full NHL Network U.S. broadcast schedule is below.

NOTES: NHL Network U.S. is providing coverage of the IIHF World Junior Championship for the fourth straight year … The U.S. will be defending its 2010 IIHF World Junior Championship gold medal, having defeated Canada, 6-5, in overtime, to claim the title last year in Saskatoon, Sask. For a full tournament schedule and ticket information, visit BuffaloWorldJuniors.com.

2011 IIHF World Junior Championship – NHL Network U.S. Broadcast Schedule

Dec. 26 – Jan. 5, Buffalo, N.Y.

Date Game Time (EST)

Sun., Dec. 26 Russia vs. Canada 4 p.m.

Finland vs. USA 8 p.m.

Tues., Dec. 28 Canada vs. Czech Republic 4 p.m.

USA vs. Slovakia 8 p.m.

Wed., Dec. 29 Norway vs. Canada 7:30 p.m.

Thurs., Dec. 30 Sweden vs. Czech Republic 3 p.m.

Germany vs. USA 7 p.m.

Fri., Dec. 31 Canada vs. Sweden 4 p.m.

USA vs. Switzerland 8 p.m.

Sun., Jan. 2 Quarterfinal #1 3:30 p.m.

Quarterfinal #2* 7:30 p.m.

Mon., Jan. 3 Semifinal #1 3:30 p.m.

Semifinal #2* 7:30 p.m.

Wed., Jan. 6 Bronze-Medal Game 3:30 p.m.

Gold-Medal Game 7:30 p.m.

*If qualified, USA will play at this time slot

Here’s NHL.com’s press release, with more info:

NEW YORK, NY / COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (December 21, 2010) — For the first time in six years, the IIHF World Junior Championship returns to U.S. soil, and NHL Network™ U.S. will be there every step of the way in host city Buffalo, N.Y., as Team USA attempts to defend its title. Last year, the U.S. team defeated Canada, 6-5, in overtime of a thrilling gold medal final in Saskatoon. If Team USA is able to repeat this year, it would be a first for them to achieve back-to-back titles, and a first to capture a championship on home soil.

 

NHL Network U.S. will provide exclusive live coverage of the U.S. National Junior Team games at the 2011 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship, Dec. 26 to Jan. 5. NHL Network also will televise all medal-round games and five additional preliminary-round match-ups, airing a total of 15 games in high-definition from the tournament, and provide nightly re-caps in its signature show “NHL On the Fly.” All USA games will be NHL Network original broadcasts.

 

The tournament’s popularity stems from its reputation as a showcase for the game’s best up-and-coming young players from around the world. Many current NHL stars have played in the tournament; an abbreviated list includes Sidney Crosby, Mike Richards and Jarome Iginla for Canada; Patrick Kane, Zach Parise and Bobby Ryan for the United States; Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin and Ilya Kovalchuk for Russia; Nicklas Lidstrom, Henrik Zetterberg and the Sedin twins for Sweden; Martin Havlat, Milan Hejduk and Tomas Kaberle for the Czech Republic; Teemu Selanne and the Koivu brothers for Finland and Marian Hossa, Marian Gaborik and Jaroslav Halak for Slovakia.

 

Many players who will take to the ice in this year’s tournament are very close to realizing their dream of an NHL career — no fewer than 25 players who played in last year’s competition already have made their League debut.

 

Broadcast Team

 

Gary Thorne, Dave Starman, Fred Pletsch and Billy Jaffe will make up the broadcast team for the NHL Network’s coverage of Team USA’s games.

 

Thorne, who will handle play-by-play duties, boasts over 30 years of sports broadcasting experience. He served a 12-year stint (1992-2004) as the voice of ESPN’s NHL telecasts and was also the lead hockey play-by-play voice of NBC’s 2002 Olympic Winter Games coverage. Thorne currently serves as the play-by-play voice for Major League Baseball’s Baltimore Orioles, and provides play-by-play for Major League Baseball on ESPN Radio.

 

 

Starman, who will serve as the analyst, is currently the lead analyst for CBS College Sports coverage of NCAA hockey. He served as the analyst for the NHL Network’s coverage of Team USA’s games at the 2009 and 2010 IIHF World Junior Championship, as well.

 

Pletsch, who will serve as the rinkside reporter in the preliminary round for the third straight year, is in his 11th season as an analyst on the Central Collegiate Hockey Association Game of the Week on Fox Sports Detroit. He has also worked as a sideline reporter for ESPN during the NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Championship and is currently the associate commissioner of the Central College Hockey Association.

 

Billy Jaffe, who will serve as the rinkside reporter for the medal round, regularly contributes the popular “NHL Live!” show simulcast on Sirius XM Radio and NHL Network, the Network’s “NHL On the Fly,” and serves as the color analyst and in-studio for NHL on VERSUS.

 

NHL.com Coverage

 

NHL.com will cover all angles of the 2011 World Junior Championship, from an in-depth, country-by-country tournament preview to a look back at the 2005 WJC, when Canada invaded Grand Forks, N.D. to battle the defending champion Team USA on its home turf — the last time the event was staged in the United States. NHL.com also will unveil its all-time World Junior Championship team. NHL.com will have live coverage of every game at the tournament, as well as an all-encompassing blog of all the happenings in Buffalo starting Dec. 26. Full coverage of the 2011 World Junior Championship can be found at NHL.com as well as NHL.com/Draft.

 

A full NHL Network-U.S. / 2011 IIHF World Junior broadcast schedule is below.

 

2011 IIHF World Junior Championship – NHL Network-U.S. Broadcast Schedule

Dec. 26 – Jan. 5, Buffalo, N.Y.

 

 

Date Game Time (EST)

 

Sun., Dec. 26 Russia vs. Canada 4 p.m.

Finland vs. USA 8 p.m.

 

Tues., Dec. 28 Canada vs. Czech Republic 4 p.m.

USA vs. Slovakia 8 p.m.

 

Wed., Dec. 29 Norway vs. Canada 7:30 p.m.

 

Thurs., Dec. 30 Sweden vs. Czech Republic 3 p.m.

Germany vs. USA 7 p.m.

 

Fri., Dec. 31 Canada vs. Sweden 4 p.m.

USA vs. Switzerland 8 p.m.

 

Sun., Jan. 2 Quarterfinal #1 3:30 p.m.

Quarterfinal #2* 7:30 p.m.

 

Mon., Jan. 3 Semifinal #1 3:30 p.m.

Semifinal #2* 7:30 p.m.

 

Wed., Jan. 5 Bronze-Medal Game 3:30 p.m.

Gold-Medal Game 7:30 p.m.

 

*If qualified, USA will play at this time slot

 

 

Winter Classic to Stream on NBCSports.com, More to Come

From an NBC NHL Winter Classic conference call, we’ve learned that the NHL on NBC will stream live coverage of the game from Pittsburgh on NBCSports.com. Also, analyst Mike Milbury will provide content for NBCSports.com, as well as Pro Hockey Talk. We’ll have more on this later.

NHL Net to Air Pens/Caps Thursday

EW YORK (December 21, 2010) – NHL Network U.S. will televise a clash between two of the NHL‘s hottest rivals on Thursday, Dec. 23, only a week before the teams meet again in one of the NHL’s coldest games of the season — the highly-anticipated 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on New Year’s Day. For fans in the United States, NHL Network will provide live coverage when Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals play host to Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday, December 23 at 7 p.m. ET.

 

Thursday’s game, broadcast in high definition from Washington’s Verizon Center, will pit a Capitals’ team that has struggled in the past month against a Pittsburgh team that recently won 12 straight games. Nevertheless, with a victory Sunday night in Ottawa, Washington trails Pittsburgh by only four points in the Eastern Conference standings.

 

NHL Network will broadcast the game beginning at 7 p.m. with an abbreviated pre-game show before the puck drop. Brian Duff, host of NHL Network’s daily signature program NHL On The Fly, will be joined by former NHL goaltender and On The Fly analyst Kevin Weekes. The duo also will host full intermission reports with game analysis, highlights and interviews with key players. NHL On The Fly will immediately follow the game.

 

The game will re-air on NHL Network U.S. on Friday, December 24 at 4:00 p.m. ET.

 

NHL Network U.S. will air a number of live games this season including a “flex” schedule of games later in the season to guarantee viewers key matchups with playoff implications. Live game action from every NHL market is spread over multiple days per week throughout the regular season. Local blackout regulations will apply to all live games and game replays.

 

NHL Network – U.S. December 23 Programming Schedule (all times ET)

Noon NHL Live!

2:00 p.m. HD Classics: 2009 Eastern Conference Semifinal (Pittsburgh @ Washington, Game 2)

4:00 p.m. NHL Power Play

6:00 p.m. Off The Ice: Sidney Crosby

6:30 p.m. An Ovechkin Ovation: Alex’s Greatest Goals

7:00 p.m. Pittsburgh Penguins at Washington Capitals

9:30 p.m. NHL On The Fly