VERSUS To Air Four NHL Pre-Season Games

In what may be a first for the United States, NHL pre-season games are coming to network television.

VERSUS, which will become NBC Sports Network on January 2nd, will air four pre-season games starting on September 21st (Toronto vs. Philadelphia), something that I cannot remember any other network doing in the history of hockey on television. The only example of this I can find goes way back to SportsChannel America televising Washington Capitals and Calgary Flames games during a tour of Europe prior to the 1989 season. Prior to this year, only NHL Network aired broadcasts of pre-season games to the rest of the country.

All four of VERSUS’ telecasts will likely be simulcasts of Comcast’s regional sports networks. Three of them are Flyers games, already scheduled to be telecast in the Philadelphia market, which makes it appear that the games will be blacked out in the participating markets if they’re already being televised there. For example, the Rangers-Flyers game on September 26th is already being broadcast to both New York and Philadelphia.

It is not yet known if VERSUS will be using their own studio show for the telecasts, a practice that occurred throughout the 2010-11 season and through every playoff year when VERSUS had used simulcasts.

Around North America, it appears viewers in both countries will be getting a lot of pre-season action. CBC will air five games, including two doubleheaders, and the annual Kraft Hockeyville featuring Winnipeg and Ottawa. TSN will air four games, showcasing five (Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Montreal) of the seven Canadian teams. NHL Network will likely pick up some games of its own to broadcast to viewers in the United States, but none have been announced so far.

2011 NHL Pre-Season National TV Schedule

Sept. 21, 7:00 p.m. – Toronto vs. Philadelphia (VERSUS)
Sept. 22, 9:00 p.m. – Vancouver vs. Edmonton (TSN)
Sept. 24, 7:00 p.m. – Buffalo vs. Toronto (CBC)
Sept. 24, 10:00 p.m. –
Anaheim vs. Vancouver (CBC)
Sept. 26, 4:00 p.m. – Winnipeg vs. Ottawa (CBC)
Sept. 26, 7:00 p.m. – NY Rangers vs. Philadelphia (VERSUS)
Sept. 27, 9:00 p.m. – NY Islanders vs. Calgary (TSN)
Sept. 28, 8:30 p.m. – Detroit vs. Chicago (VERSUS)
Sept. 28, 8:30 p.m. – Carolina vs. Winnipeg (TSN)
Sept. 29, 7:00 p.m. – New Jersey vs. Philadelphia (VERSUS)
Sept. 29, 7:00 p.m. – Tampa Bay vs. Montreal (TSN)
Oct. 1, 7:00 p.m. –
Detroit vs. Toronto (CBC)
Oct. 1, 10:00 p.m. –
Edmonton vs. Vancouver (CBC)