Your Announcers and Open Thread For Caps-Coyotes

Washington vs. Phoenix, 8:00 PM ET, VERSUS (HD)
Play by Play:
Dave Strader
Color: Billy Jaffe
Inside the Glass: Brian Engblom

REPORT: VERSUS To Send Its Own Crew to Calgary For the Heritage Classic

Ken Fang with the scoop:

Fang’s Bites has learned that Dave Strader will call the game. You’ll recall that Dave came out of the bullpen on New Year’s Day 2009 to call the Winter Classic on NBC after Mike Emrick had a bout with laryngitis. Plus, Dave has done work on Versus before.

Working with Dave will be NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley and NHL Central analyst Brian Engblom will be “Inside the Glass”.

I was originally told by Strader himself that he’d be working one of the NBC regional games on Sunday at 12:30 PM ET, but this appears to have changed. VERSUS was originally slated to simulcast CBC coverage of the Heritage Classic at that point. Anyway, solid move by the network to get VERSUS’ own people out their, especially a solid trio such as this.

NBC Maybe Gets Its Weeks Mixed Up

Just the first couple seconds of the promo, but Alexander Ovechkin and Marc-Andre Fleury were probably surprised to see that they’d be a part of Boston-Detroit yesterday.

NBC Announces Staggered Start Times For Hockey Day in America

NBC announced at the very start of this that we would have staggered start times for the “regional” window of their Hockey Day in America. The info was released today.

The entire country – after a half-hour pre-game show from Millenium Park in Chicago – will be brought to the Washington Capitals-Buffalo Sabres game, which has a face-off time of 12:35 PM ET. Then, at 12:40 PM ET, some viewers will be sent off to Madison Square Garden to see the Philadelphia Flyers take on the New York Rangers. Finally, at 12:45 PM ET/11:45 AM CT, much of the country will be taken out to St. Paul to see the Minnesota Wild host the Detroit Red Wings. The entire country will see a match-up of the last two Stanley Cup Champions, Pittsburgh and Chicago at 3:30 PM ET/2:30 PM CT. I know many of you have asked about announcers covering each game, and we should know that information by tomorrow.

Bruins-Detroit Draws Another Low Overnight For NBC

According to Sports Business Daily (reg. required), NBC’s telecast of the Boston Bruins-Detroit Red Wings game on Sunday afternoon drew an 0.9 overnight rating, the lowest for an NBC game so far this season. In the three subsequent telecasts after the Winter Classic this season, the NHL On NBC has seen it’s ratings gone down. It should be noted, however, that one of NBC’s home markets was a bit cannibalized because ABC was airing a Boston Celtics-Miami Heat game, which in general dominated the timeslot with a 3.9, leading into a 4.1 for Los Angeles-Orlando. We’ll look into finding out local ratings in time for tomorrow. The network has averaged a 1.4 overnight through four telecasts this season, though that number dips to a 1.0 when taking out the Winter Classic.

NBC looks to restart their momentum with the first ever Hockey Day in America, with a doubleheader featuring a regional early window (Philadelphia/NY Rangers, Detroit/Minnesota, Washington/Buffalo) and a national broadcast of Pittsburgh/Chicago at 3:30 PM ET.

NHL On NBC Overnights This Season
January 1 – Washington vs. Pittsburgh:
January 23 – Philadelphia vs. Chicago: 1.1
February 6 – Pittsburgh vs. Washington: 1.0
February 13 – Boston vs. Detroit: 0.9
Season-to-Date Average:

Milbury and McGuire Get Serious With Fighting on NBC

In a week of chaos, confusion, punches thrown and injured players taunted, we saw maybe the most unlikely thing of all to wrap it up: a reasonable discussion on fighting between Mike Milbury and Pierre McGuire during the first intermission of NBC’s broadcast of a surprisingly exciting Boston-Detroit telecast on the network Sunday afternoon.

I’ve been a frequent critic of the antics between the two as of late, with the yelling and the forced debate and all the nonsense, however, on Sunday both men were cool, composed, and – while clearly conflicted in Milbury’s case – very clear about how they feel. I think Milbury spoke largely to a lot of fans feeling about fighting:

“We have fighting in this game, not because of the logical hogwash that says players need to have it to police the game, that’s just hogwash, we have it because we like it. We like fighting. We like it when a player gets hit and knocked down and his teammate comes and gets immediate retribution with a punch to the nose. We like it when a player gets hit, gets up himself and goes toe to toe with somebody. And we love it, we love it when teams stand up for themselves and be counted, and don’t let the other teams push them around. That’s part of the game that we like because we accept it as part of the game.

“However, if you cross these lines, if you do things like sucker punch, if you go too far with a player who was in a compromising position, or with a non-fighter, that’s unacceptable. But the rest of it is. It’s a sidelight to the game. It’s a fun part of the game, if you like that part of it. There are lines that you cross and they crossed them on Friday.”

The sense of conflict is what a lot of passionate hockey fans feel, including myself at times. Yeah, it’s fun to watch two men try and beat each other up and defend each other and whatnot, but it’s embarrassing when something like that escalates into chaos and circus-like atmospheres. We like the physical play, but at what cost are we allowing it to happen?

McGuire was a little bit more critical and specific in his words:

“What happened on Friday wasn’t about fighting. This was premeditated predatory behavior. That’s why the league ruled as harshly and as quickly as they did. They did the right thing. Case in point, Trevor Gillies, who was in that game, had six shifts for an average of 16 seconds per shift. That speaks to the premeditation. This is not about fighting in that situation. This is about an organization, the New York Islanders, that wanted to get their pound of flesh from the Pittsburgh Penguins. I’ll tell you one thing, the guy who was very lucky: Matt Martin. If Matt Martin hits Maxime Talbot in the neutral zone, that’s his Todd Bertuzzi moment. We do not want to go down that road again.”

What followed was a fairly decent discussion of how you draw the line between promoting physical play and outright thuggery when attempting to build a Stanley Cup contender, and then what to actually do as far as solutions to the problem. Milbury suggested suspensions for those who have multiple fights, while McGuire suggested dropping the number of roster players a team can carry from 18 skaters to 17. Credit goes to McHugh, for doing a solid job moderating the discussion. Credit should also be given to Milbury and McGuire, who realized that while they had to tone down the volume, they didn’t have to tone down their messages.