A Brief Timeout For the Environment’s Sake, Please

I promise to try and not do this again, but I hope you’ll give your support to this video I helped produce, write, shoot and edit.

Tuesday morning, me and a group of fellow students headed out to Genesis Farms in Blairstown, NJ, where a group of the Sisters of St. Dominic are working toward finding a way to connect the changing environmental world with business and education of all forms. It was a real trip to see this in action, the nuns were lovely and had fascinating views. It was a great learning experience, both working with the crew and learning about this place.

Anyway, the piece was shot for an organization called Planet Forward. You can head to their site and vote for our piece (click the little marker that says “viability”). If we’re supported well enough, the story will air on PBS later this year.

I hope you will give the piece a shot and hope you do not see it as me taking the blog to plug a personal, unrelated project. While that may be true, it was a group effort and I’d like to see what these people are doing get more attention. Enjoy.

VERSUS Hypes Ratings Success


NEW YORK, N.Y. (February 10, 2011)—VERSUS, the exclusive cable television home of the National Hockey League (NHL), continues to see significant viewership growth for its exclusive NHL telecasts (no local blackouts) following the best All-Star Game in the network’s history.


The three post All-Star Weekend telecasts – Pittsburgh/NY Rangers on Feb. 1; NY Rangers/Detroit on Feb. 7; and Buffalo/Tampa Bay on Feb. 8 –averaged 437,000 viewers, up 45 percent compared to the season average prior to All-Star Weekend (302,000 viewers) and scored even stronger growth among key male demos: Men 18-49 (up 55 percent) and Men 25-54 (up 59 percent).


The three-game average of 437,000 viewers is 85 percent higher than the average of the three games at the same time last year (Minnesota/Dallas; NJ/Philadelphia; Detroit/St. Louis – 236,000 viewers) and 21 percent higher than the three-game average following the 2009 All-Star Weekend on VERSUS (Washington/Boston; Detroit/St. Louis; Washington/NJ – 361,000 viewers).


The Pittsburgh/NY Rangers telecast on Feb. 1 averaged 460,000 viewers and the NY Rangers/Detroit game on Feb. 7 averaged 534,000 viewers, making it the first time since ESPN aired NHL games in 2004 that two consecutive telecasts averaged more than 450,000 viewers on cable. The NY Rangers/Detroit game was also the third-most watched telecast this season on VERSUS.


INCREASED PROMOTION ON NBCUNIVERSAL: The NHL All-Star Game on VERSUS was the very first “cross-channel promotional priority” for the new NBCUniversal consisting of 20 channels and more than 40 websites. A “cross-channel priority” is a program or initiative that has been identified by John Miller, chairman of the NBCUniversal Marketing Council and head of The NBC Sports Agency, to receive broad promotion across NBCUniversal’s numerous platforms. Included in the cross-channel priority was promotion for VERSUS’ NHL telecasts on NBC Sports’ NHL coverage.


VERSUS, part of the NBC Sports Group, 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 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 T.Ocho Show. VERSUS is distributed via cable systems and satellite operators throughout the United States.


NBC Hypes Bruins-Red Wings

NEW YORK – February 10, 2011 – “Original Six” division leaders meet when the Detroit Red Wings host the Boston Bruins this Sunday at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports’ “NHL Game of the Week.” NBCSports.com will also stream the game live.


The Bruins lead the Northeast division with 69 points while the host Red Wings lead the Central with 70 points. The game also features two of the goalies tied for the NHL lead in wins (26) in Boston’s Tim Thomas and Detroit’s Jimmy Howard.


Mike “Doc” Emrick (play-by-play), Eddie Olczyk (analyst) and Pierre McGuire (inside-the-glass analyst) call the action. McGuire will pull double duty, hosting NBC Sports’ studio show alongside analyst Mike Milbury on site at Joe Louis Arena.


OLCZYK: “There’s always an extra buzz in the building for an Original Six game, an extra bounce in the step. The Bruins are a fun team to watch. They can play anyway the game dictates: finesse, chip and chase, drop the gloves; they’ll play it. Tim Thomas is having a great year. Detroit has hit the dog days, but are starting to get healthy which will help them turn it around. Both teams are legitimate contenders when the playoffs come around.”


NBCSPORTS.COM: NBCSports.com will stream live all “NHL Game of the Week” broadcasts this season, including Bruins-Red Wings. It will again offer “Star-cam,” which follows a marquee player in the game. Following the game, NBCSports.com will present bonus material, including “Star-cam” and “Net-cam” and bonus analysis from NBC Sports commentators. The NHL on NBC also has its own Facebook page. For NHL news and behind-the-scenes videos and photos, click here http://www.facebook.com/nhlonnbc


HOCKEY DAY IN AMERICA: The NHL and NBC Sports will celebrate America’s passion for hockey with the inaugural “Hockey Day in America” presented by McDonald’s on Sunday, February 20.


With six hours of coverage (Noon-6 p.m. ET) – which will include four NHL games – hosted from McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Chicago’s Millennium Park, NBC Sports will tell the stories that demonstrate this country’s affinity for hockey – from hockey parents who chauffeur pee wees to practice before sunrise to the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships in Minnesota, played by amateurs amidst arctic temperatures, to ‘celebrity’ hockey played by actors and producers in Los Angeles to inner-city hockey in Washington, D.C. that has made a difference in the lives of countless children and young adults.


NBC Sports will broadcast four NHL games featuring eight teams from some of the most avid U.S. hockey markets. The first three games will be broadcast regionally with staggered starts. All viewers will begin the day with the same game before some viewers are taken to their regional game. The staggered starts allow for live look-ins of the other regionalized games during intermissions. The fourth game, Pittsburgh at Chicago, will be broadcast nationally. All games will be streamed live on NBCSports.com.


The three regional games are Detroit at Minnesota, Philadelphia at New York Rangers, and Washington at Buffalo. Exact start times and commentators for the regional games will be announced at a later date.


“Hockey Day in America” schedule (all times ET):


Noon “Hockey Day in America” coverage begins


12:35 p.m. First regional game begins


12:40 p.m. Second regional game begins


12:45 p.m. Third regional game begins


3:30 p.m. Pittsburgh at Chicago (national)


FLEX SCHEDULING & CONSISTENT 12:30 PM ET START TIME: Again this year, “Game of the Week” broadcasts will consistently start at 12:30 p.m. ET on Sundays (except for “Hockey Day in America” on Sunday, February 20, Noon-6 p.m. ET).


For the fourth straight season, the NHL and NBC Sports will utilize flex scheduling and will be able to select from up to four games on Sunday afternoons. At least 13 days prior to the scheduled games, the NHL and NBC Sports will announce one of those games as the “Game of the Week” to be broadcast during the NBC Sports window. The other games will remain available to the teams’ regional carrier but will not be televised during NBC Sports’ broadcast window.




(All games announced at least 13 days prior)


Sunday, Feb. 20, Noon-6 p.m. ET


“Hockey Day in America”


Washington @ Buffalo (regional)


Detroit @ Minnesota (regional)


Philadelphia @ N.Y. Rangers (regional)


Pittsburgh @ Chicago (national)


Sunday, Mar. 6, 12:30 p.m. ET


Philadelphia @ N.Y. Rangers


Buffalo @ Minnesota


Sunday, Mar. 13, 12:30 p.m. ET


Chicago @ Washington


Los Angeles @ Dallas


Sunday, Mar. 20, 12:30 p.m. ET


N.Y. Rangers @ Pittsburgh


New Jersey @ Columbus


Sunday, Apr. 3, 12:30 p.m. ET


N.Y. Rangers @ Philadelphia


Minnesota @ Detroit


Tampa Bay @ Chicago


Sunday, Apr. 10, 12:30 p.m. ET


Detroit @ Chicago


Boston @ New Jersey


Dallas @ Minnesota


Pittsburgh @ Atlanta


NEXT WEEK ON VERSUS: VERSUS, the exclusive cable television home of the NHL and a member of the NBC Sports Group, super-serves hockey fans with 79 regular-season games this season. Following is next week’s game schedule (all times ET):


Monday Washington @ Phoenix 8 p.m.


Tuesday Buffalo @ Montreal 7:30 p.m.


Wednesday Minnesota @ Chicago 7 p.m.



Just In Case You Haven’t Seen It, An Artist’s Rendering of the Heritage Classic

PTM Interview: Brian Engblom Goes Inside the Glass


Photo Courtesy of Scott Audette Inc. and VERSUS

VERSUS analyst Brian Engblom immediately strikes you as a big team player, and one would imagine anyone who played on any of the legendary Montreal Canadiens Stanley Cup-winning teams in the 70’s – as Engblom did in 1977, 1978 and 1979 – would have to be. He appears to take the same approach to broadcasting, as he went from game analyst initially at OLN to one of VERSUS’ main studio analysts. Now, under Sam Flood’s new regime with the network, Engblom has become VERSUS’ #2 inside the glass analyst behind Pierre McGuire.

He’ll be working for the network next on Monday when they broadcast Washington-Phoenix at 8:00 PM ET. Yesterday, he spoke to me about how he came into the role, what he’s looking forward to, and how similar communication on the ice is from when he played.

Puck the Media: So how did your move to the between the benches role come about?

Brian Engblom: When the change was made and Sam Flood started taking over how the television part of the NHL was run at VERSUS, he came in and said to me that he was going to take me out of the studio and put me inside the glass, back on games. That’s where he preferred that I work, and I said “okay,” and last night was the first night.

PTM: So that will be the permanent spot for you from now on?

BE: Well, I’m hoping so [laughs]. That’s where I am right now, and I assume going forward, that’s where I am for the foreseeable future.

PTM: This came very quickly, but you mentioned getting back to calling games, was that something you were looking to do?

BE: I’m fine either way, to be honest with you. I really enjoyed last night, and I’m looking forward to continuing to do that job. I enjoyed the studio a lot, too. The studio happened every bit as suddenly as this did, that was all of six years ago. They just wanted to bring me into the studio and give it a try and see how it worked, chemistry-wise. They were happy with the result. They said “would you consider doing just studio from now on and not doing games?” and I said “Okay, whatever you want, I’ll do it.” Next thing you know, it’s almost six years later.

I think three or four years ago, I’d do a couple of games just to keep my hand in it, but really haven’t done much, except for the outdoor game we did for Comcast 3D. That’s the only game I’ve had in, probably, the last year and a half, two years. You just evolve. This is a business, like anything else, where they ask you to do something and you either say yes or no. When I went into the studio, I said “sure, I’ll give it a shot,” and I enjoyed the heck out of it. I loved working with the crew, everybody from people in the tape department to the camera guys to people in the control room, and of course Bill and Jonesy, and Bill Clement before that.

It just happened and it worked, so now I get different marching orders, and now I go in the direction. I say goodbye to the people in the studio, and get back doing the games. It’s a totally different job, totally different preparation. The game day is completely different, the subject matter really is different, because obviously, you’re game specific and not league-wide. It’s an adjustment period, and I’ll continue to go through that for probably a couple more games, at least until get back in the swing of it.

I’ve done hundreds of games in the past, so it’s not completely foreign to me, by any means. Just that the inside the glass is a different concept, I’ve never done that before. It’s interesting to go back and do something that’s new and a stretch for me. There was some anxiety going into last night because I hadn’t done it before, I had never been down at ice level. Now, having one under my belt and understanding how they wanna do it and what it looks like and what it feels like, more importantly. I look forward to doing it again next week.

PTM: How was the first time out for you? How would you rate your first time out overall?

BE: I really enjoyed it, it was terrific. It’s great being down there, because you do get the feel of the game, which you don’t nearly as much up in the press box. Especially in some of the buildings, because it’s so damn high, you really don’t get any feel. Being right down there and seeing the emotion and line changes and yelling and screaming and the exchanges between the players and what’s going on on the bench, that’s what my job entails. That’s what I’m supposed to do is, relay the feel of the game.

The things that you can do downstairs, you can’t do upstairs and vice versa. When you’re upstairs, looking down at the game, you can see the logic of it, you can almost predict some of the things that are going to happen, just by reading the open space and knowing the mind of a professional hockey player. You can pretty much see how the plays are going to develop. That’s the advantage of being there. When you’re down at ice level, sometimes you can’t see the forrest for the trees, but that’s a good thing. You can feel everything and as I said, you’re right in the action of it.

PTM: How was it working in a three-man booth with Rick Peckham and Daryl Reaugh?

Be: It was great, both those guys are pros and real easy to work with. I’ve done three-man booths before, all in the same place, but I’d never been down at ice level before. I’d done it, I’m going to say four or five times before. Not a lot, but enough to know what it feels like, so I wasn’t really worried about it. It is different when you’re not side by side, you can’t pinch somebody and let them know you wanna say something. Actually, in those other occasions, a lot of times you have to sort of jump in anyway and you develop a feel for it. It’s not all about hand signals and gestures when it’s a three-man booth. I wasn’t really worried about it, you develop a feel and a rythym for what the other two are doing, what their cadence of calling the game is maybe the best way to do it. The business of the game, I know well enough, you’re informed when the commercial breaks are coming up and things like that. That was all clear, and with the whistle you can’t say anything then.

It does create some problems because you can’t manually get somebody’s attention but, you know, you’re bound to step on each other a little bit, as long as it’s not a lot and it’s annoying to the fans, and that’s no good. I didn’t feel like we stepped on each other that much last night. You just sort of have to keep going and sort it out as it goes.

PTM: Does it help when you have a game like you did last night where it’s entertaining and there’s lots of goals, as an analyst, or does it hurt getting you into sort of a flow of what you want to talk about.

BE: Well, the game is the most important thing. Whatever it gives us, whichever direction it sends us, that’s where we’re going. It’s obviously a lot more entertaining for the fans and for us, when goals are being scored. Goals are, actually, maybe the wrong word. If there’s action, and there’s scoring chances. I don’t mind seeing great goaltender saves, too. The puck doesn’t have to go in all the time. When you get deflected pucks, or fluky goals, that doesn’t do a lot for me. That’s obviously part of the game, and you cover it, as the reporter part of you does, that’s what we’re supposed to do. Fluky goals as compared to two or three ten-bell saves by the goaltender, I’d rather have the saves anytime.

It’s really about action and physical play and interaction of the players on their own team and obviously between the two teams. When you get teams that have bad blood between each other, that’s going to be the most fun. You never quite know when that’s going to happen, I don’t even think the players do. It gives you a lot more to look at and to talk about, and it gives me a lot better feel of what the picture of the game is down there.

PTM: As an analyst in general, what do you set out to keep an eye on when you’re preparing for a game and does that change at all with this role?

BE: Whatever the story lines are with the two individual teams, that’s what we’re there to convey. We start with the story lines, where they’re at now, where they are in the standings and how well they have played lately? Who are their best players and how are they playing? How do they match up? Then the game takes on it’s own shape from there, and then we’re reporting on everything from really nice goals to fluky goals, to two teams that ended up not liking each other at the end of the night [in Tampa Bay on Tuesday]. It starts with the basis of knowing what the story lines are with each team, and that’s our job. To get a feel, starting with the morning skate, talk to the coaches, a couple players and, of course, looking at the last half-dozen games, looking where they are in the standings. All those sort of things come into play.

It’s a complete difference in the studio. The studio, you’re dealing with league-wide issues. Many times a game that’s on our air, we didn’t spend much time talking about it because there were other issues league-wide that we were covering, and that’s the job of a national studio presence, to deal with what everybody’s talking about. Whether it’s suspensions to a player or trends or anything else, and the game is left to the crew that’s doing the game. We’re assuming you’re constantly reading about 30 teams and, I think 1000 players played at least one game in the league last year, probably 700-750 at least this year and counting.

It’s really hard, it’s a moving target all the time in the studio, and you try and keep – as best you can – an idea of what the teams are doing and where they’re at, and that’s a very difficult job because there are so many players and so many teams.

PTM: When you finally got down in between the benches, you’re on the ice, was there anything that immediately jumped out to you? I know you played for many years, you won Stanley Cups, but was there anything that jumped out to you from that position?

BE: No, I just went down there and looked at the game from a different perspective. Obviously, I appreciated the up close and personal part of it, and seeing it literally at eye level. That was great, and just getting myself accustomed to that view. I don’t know that there was anything specific, I know the players all big, I know they’re all fast. I’ve been to a lot of morning skates, even still over the years when I’ve been in the studio, so I know all those things. It didn’t really surprise me, it was just sort of an environmental issue for me getting used to the feel of it again, and doing my job. I wasn’t down there as a fan.

It’s different. I can’t afford to be a fan and sit back and miss things, and sort of watch one player, which is what I do when I watch the game as a fan. I’ll just watch a couple of players, and I’ll watch ’em all over the ice, I don’t care if somebody scores a goal. It doesn’t matter me. I’m just watching a few players. I can’t do that, of course, when I’m down there. You have to go where the action is and take in as much as you can.

PTM: Who are some of your favorite players to watch play when you’re watching as a fan?

BE: It varies from night to night. If I’m watching Detroit, I love watching Lidstrom, I love watching Pavel Datsyuk, because they’re so talented and so smart, I can see what they do away from the puck. I like some of the young players, Drew Doughty, I like to see what he does and watch his development. SOmetimes, I’ll just watch a goalie while the puck is in the zone. Obviously when the puck is at the other end of the ice you can’t watch him. Sometimes, what they do and how they move. I’ll say to myself “I haven’t really watched a goalie in a while, but obviously he’s making a save.” That may sound funny, but of course they’re tracking the puck all the time to get a read or a feel for a goaltender when the puck is on his side of the red line, because that’s when he has to really be paying attention. It varies from night to night. It might be an unknown player that I think is just really playing well, that becomes noticeable. I’ll just say “Oh, I’m gonna’ watch this guy and see what he’s doing.”

PTM: You’re down there last night, obviously, you can hear everything and see almost everything. Has the way players communicate between each other and the way players communicate with coaches since your playing days?

BE: I don’t think a lot’s changed. I mean, it’s still basically the same situations. Players on opposing teams get mad at each other, and there’s a lot of bad language, that’s never going to go away. The talking amongst players on the same team, there’s communication that’s always been around. Yelling “heads up!” [Tuesday night] Tampa, I think it was [Sean] Bergenheim, was going through the neutral zone and he was right in front of his bench and had his head down and, I think it was [Paul] Gaustad was coming at him, was going to smoke him. Half the bench just instantly went “look out!” and he looked up just in time, or he would’ve been just crushed. That’s usual, that hasn’t changed, those things happen. Defensemen yell to each other if they’re open, or if a defenseman’s going back for the puck, his defense partner will say “guy’s right on you.”

You can’t hear everything. There’s a lot of crowd noise to, so you can’t profess to hear everything that’s happening all over the ice, I’m not going to fool you and say I can hear everything, some things I hear from time to time. I’m sure it’s different in different arenas. That’s the first one I’ve done. It wasn’t bad down there, but at the same time I am inside the glass, and there is glass on either side so I can’t hear every thing on the bench, not in that arena. I can’t hear everything on the bench because there is glass between me and the players. At some places there isn’t. I haven’t been through that situation yet, so I can’t comment. I just observe and lift my head as much as I can.

PTM: Is there a rink in particular that you’re looking forward to being down there in the thick of it?

BE: I really haven’t given it any thought, to be honest with you. Some of the places have bigger areas to work than others. As far as favorite buildings I like going to, I would say Chicago, Boston, Madison Square Garden is great. It gets a little congested down there because I’d done sideline years ago with ESPN and I liked to stand down there. Environmentally, I’ll have to go through all around the circuit at least once and then I can answer that question better about which buildings I enjoy, because my work environment is obviously very important to me. It’s different from if I was a fan, just going into Chicago Stadium, the Bell Centre in Montreal or Ottawa or wherever. Those environmental issues and workspace will be very important to how much I enjoy doing the job [laughs].

PTM: Now that you’ve got a game under your belt doing this, what are you looking forward to most out of this new role?

BE: I hadn’t really thought of it in those terms. Just sort of matter of fact, getting used to the environment and feel of it again and just pushing that forward. I look forward to doing games and seeing how it feels in different buildings, for one thing, just my own situation from game to game. It’s great having the action there, that’s the one thing, obviously, that the studio doesn’t have. It’s a sterile environment even when you’re speaking to each other, and to a television audience it’s very sterile and quiet, whereas it’s exactly 180 degrees away from that when you’re doing a game. You’ve got the fans yelling and screaming, you’ve got the game going on and you’re right in the thick of it. There’s an energy that is completely different there and it’s an adrenaline rush, there’s no doubt about that.

Now that the games get more and more important as we go down to the end of the season, you get playoff games. That intensity rises, too. Playoff hockey is terrific at the NHL level, I mean, you can smell it in the air as soon as you walk into any building in the NHL at playoff time. I am looking forward to that, being right in the middle of that again.