Pre-Season Debut on VERSUS Draws Predictably Non-Blockbuster Numbers on VERSUS

VERSUS entered into the business of televising pre-season NHL games this year, and – considering the lack of promotion and that it didn’t air in the two teams’ home markets – I guess you could say it wasn’t bad. I mean, I really don’t know. This sort of thing has never happened before.

The network’s broadcast of Maple Leafs-Flyers at 7 p.m. ET Wednesday drew 68,000 viewers. Based on recent numbers from various events, it was about equal to what the WNBA playoffs have drawn on NBA TV, CFL Football on NFL Network, and non-Premiere League matches on FOX Soccer. The last major sporting events VERSUS televised were a Mountain West football game (Texas Tech vs. New Mexico: 130,000 viewers) and Professional Bull Riders (226,000 viewers) on Saturday. The game also built from it’s lead-in, NBC Sports Talk, which scored 17,000 viewers.

Pre-season hockey returns to VERSUS on Monday with a Rangers-Flyers match-up. That will be interesting to track for two reasons: it won’t air in either home market, and it will be on the heels of what is expected to be a Rangers-Flyers Winter Classic showdown that afternoon at Citizens’ Bank Park. I’ll be curious as to what that draws.

(Source: Son of the Bronx)


FCC Rules Rangers, Devils, Isles Games Must Be in HD on Verizon, AT&T; Cablevision to Appeal

From Deadline:

The FCC today has ruled that a pair of high-definition regional sports channels operated by Cablevision’s Madison Square Garden network must be offered to Verizon’s FiOS and AT&T’s U-Verse video services. The move comes after a complaint was filed in July that said MSG refused to sell the formats — which Cablevision carries in its stable of offerings — in the greater New York region, thereby hindering competition. “By directing Cablevision and MSG to make their high-definition programming available within 30 days, the decision promises to give consumers in New York and New Jersey a choice to obtain the sports programming they want,” Verizon SVP and deputy general counsel Mike Glover said in a statement from Verizon announcing the ruling. Verizon also had to petition the FCC to allow it access to standard-definition versions of the channels in 2006.

Cablevision will appeal the FCC decision. The cable company said in a statement that ”the data clearly demonstrates that there has been no competitive harm to the nation’s two largest phone companies as a result of not having two HD channels they already receive in SD….Instead of competing on the merits in the marketplace, Verizon and AT&T are manipulating federal law to gain an unfair advantage.”

Daryl Reaugh, David Amber, Gord Stellick Among New Additions to HNIC Crew

September 22, 2011 – With CBC’S HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA pre-season action on air this weekend, the nation’s marquee hockey show announced today the addition of Gord Stellick, Andi Petrillo, David Amber, Daryl Reaugh and Rick Ball to its award winning team of journalists, analysts and broadcast personalities.

“We could not be happier with the addition of Gord, Andi, David, Daryl and Rick to our team,” said Julie Bristow, Executive Director of Studio and Unscripted Programming for CBC Television. “They all bring a different experienced background and point of view about the game that we feel will really resonate with Canadian hockey fans.”

Gord Stellick, former general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs will join CBC’S HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA RADIO on Sirius, while also writing a weekly column for He will begin his radio duties on Monday Sept. 26 with a special radio show on location from Kraft Hockeyville in St. John’s,Newfoundland.

Andi Petrillo, long standing host and reporter for Leafs TV joins CBC’S HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA as co-host of GAME DAY, along with P.J Stock.

David Amber, a veteran anchor and reporter for the NHL Network and ESPN becomes CBC’S HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA’S newest Eastern Conference rinkside reporter.

NHL goalie and veteran colour commentator for the Dallas Stars, Daryl Reaugh will join CBC’S HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA’s west coast broadcast team covering the Jets, Flames, Oilers.

Rick Ball, host and Vancouver Canucks announcer on TEAM 1040 is set to join the west coast broadcast team handling play-by-play duties on CBC’S HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA

The 59th season of CBC’S HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA kicks off on Saturday, September 24, with a pre-season double header between Toronto andBuffalo at 7 p.m. ET, followed by Anaheim battling Vancouver at 10 p.m. ET.

NHL Faceoff Festival Two Weeks From Tonight in Winnipeg

NEW YORK (September 22, 2011) – The National Hockey League (NHL) will

celebrate the opening of the 2011-12 NHL season and its return to Winnipeg

with the 2011 Molson Canadian NHL Face-Off™ season-opening hockey and

entertainment festival in Winnipeg, October 6. The NHL will transform “The

Forks,” Winnipeg’s iconic downtown gathering point, offering fans live

musical performances, interactive hockey attractions, a live broadcast of

the opening night game between the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple

Leafs from the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, and guest appearances from

George Stroumboulopoulos, host of CBC Television’s flagship late-night

program, George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight, and others. The NHL will

announce the exciting line-up of musical performers next week.


In addition, Winnipeg fans will be treated to a special live

introduction of the 2011-12 Winnipeg Jets™ team. CBC, VERSUS and NHL

Network™ will be on the scene in Winnipeg and will broadcast portions of

the festivities live to fans nationwide in Canada and in the U.S.,



Molson Canadian will serve as the title sponsor for 2011 NHL

Face-Off™, marking its first activation since signing a landmark multi-year

deal to secure exclusive League rights in the beer sponsorship category to

become the Official Beer of the NHL®.


“While all hockey fans around the world are excited for the new

season, fans in Winnipeg have waited 15 years to have the NHL back,” said

Brian Jennings, NHL Executive Vice President of Marketing. “The 2011 Molson

Canadian NHL Face-Off will be a true festival and celebration with a great

combination of hockey and entertainment for fans joining us in Winnipeg and

fans tuning in across North America.”


“The start of hockey season is a national holiday in Canada,” said

Dave Perkins, president and CEO, Molson Coors Canada. “We plan to help the

NHL throw the biggest ‘welcome home party’ hockey fans in Winnipeg have

ever seen while also ushering in a new season of NHL excitement like only

Canada’s beer of hockey can. Game on!”


“We are honoured the National Hockey League has chosen Winnipeg and

the Jets to host the season-opening event for the NHL year,” said Mark

Chipman, Chairman & Governor, True North Sports & Entertainment and the

Winnipeg Jets. “The entire province has been captivated by the return of

the NHL to Winnipeg and we are certain the excitement and support of this

festival will be just like everything else so far this summer –



“We couldn’t be more excited to launch a new NHL season with CBC’s

Hockey Night in Canada live from Winnipeg,” said Julie Bristow, Executive

Director, Studio and Unscripted Programming for CBC. “Like Hockey Night in

Canada itself, the start of a new season is a rite of passage for Canadians

and we look forward to connecting fans across the nation with our coverage

of the euphoria and celebration of the return of the NHL to Winnipeg.”


From 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. CT, NHL fans young and old will be able to take

part in the free festivities — including attractions that test hockey

skills; prizing and giveaways; food, beverage and merchandise tents; and

live musical performances and the live game broadcasts on giant screens.

For fans 18 years or older, the Molson Canadian Hockey House hospitality

spectator area will feature live game broadcasts, cold beer and other



Attractions and additional special guests will be announced in the

coming weeks. Fans should visit for the latest information.


The Forks will feature video boards to showcase CBC’s Hockey Night in

Canada broadcast of the Canadiens-Leafs from the Air Canada Centre in

Toronto. CBC’s pre-game show, Scotiabank Hockey Tonight, hosted by Ron

MacLean, will cover the opening of a new hockey season live on location

from Winnipeg, Toronto and Vancouver, airing nationally at 6:30 pm ET. In

Winnipeg, coverage will deliver live musical performances and the

introduction of the new Jets team to fans. The entire Hockey Night in

Canada team prepare fans for the new season with the latest news,

information and analysis from Toronto and Vancouver, while also bringing

viewers the Stanley Cup® banner raising in Boston. The one and only Don

Cherry returns for the new season with a much-anticipated edition of

Coach’s Corner, airing live from Toronto during the first intermission of

the Canadiens-Leafs game.


VERSUS will offer live look-ins to the festivities in Winnipeg from

its set in Boston and its Stamford, Conn. studio. VERSUS’ coverage of the

Bruins home opener against the Philadelphia Flyers at TD Garden will start

at 6:30 p.m. ET with its pre-game show, followed by live coverage of the

Bruins’ banner-raising ceremony at 7 p.m. ET and the game broadcast. In

addition, VERSUS will carry highlights from the Canadiens-Leafs game in



NHL Network’s coverage of Opening Night will commence at 3 p.m. ET

from its set in Boston and will be on the scene in Winnipeg and in

Vancouver for the Canucks-Pittsburgh Penguins game at Rogers Arena,

wrapping its coverage at 7 p.m. ET. NHL Network’s post-game show will

feature highlights from Opening Night, including the banner-raising in

Boston and the 2011 Molson Canadian NHL Face-Off™ in Winnipeg.


NHL partners Scotiabank, XM, Canadian Tire, Frito Lay Canada,

Bridgestone, EA Sports and Reebok also will take part in the season-opening


Marc Crawford Joins TSN Starting Tonight

Toronto, ON (September 19, 2011) – TSN welcomes a new recruit to its roster with Stanley Cup-winning coach Marc Crawford joining the NHL ON TSN broadcast team as an analyst for the upcoming NHL season.


Crawford, a former NHL player and head coach, will be featured on the popular NHL ON TSN panel throughout the season. Crawford will primarily work with NHL on TSN host James Duthie, Hockey Insiders Bob McKenzie and Darren Dreger along with former player Aaron Ward.


Crawford makes his debut on the NHL ON TSN panel on Wednesday, September 21 at 7:30 p.m. ET during TSN’s broadcast of the Boston @ Ottawa preseason game.


“Few people understand the nuances of hockey better than Marc Crawford. He possesses one of the brightest minds in the game,” said Mark Milliere, Senior Vice-President of Production, TSN. “Adding someone of Marc’s pedigree to the TSN panel is a huge win for hockey fans.”


“I am absolutely thrilled to be joining the TSN team. Every team I’ve worked for has had TSN playing in their dressing room on a daily basis,” said Crawford. “James Duthie, Bob McKenzie, Darren Dreger and Aaron Ward all have unbelievable contacts throughout hockey and I know I will learn a great deal about this side of the NHL from them – and maybe one day I can become as Zen like as the Quiz Master.”


A native of Belleville, ON, Crawford was the head coach for the Quebec Nordiques, Colorado Avalanche, Vancouver Canucks, Los Angeles Kings and Dallas Stars. Highlights of Crawford’s illustrious career include being awarded the Jack Adams Award for NHL Coach of the Year in 1995, winning a Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche in 1996, and coaching the Canadian men’s hockey team at the Nagano 1998 Olympic Winter Games. Crawford was also a two-time Memorial Cup winner (1980 and 1981) with the Cornwall Royals.



Crawford joins the NHL ON TSN team as TSN/TSN2 prepares to showcase more regular season games than ever before with its combined 151-game NHL broadcast schedule for the 2011-12 regular season.


In addition to his role with the NHL ON TSN, he will regularly contribute to SPORTSCENTRE, THAT’S HOCKEY and THAT’S HOCKEY 2NITE, and be a part of TSN’s extensive TRADECENTRE, NHL ENTRY DRAFT and FREE AGENT FRENZY coverage. Crawford will also be a regular contributor on Bell Media’s sports radio outlets, including TSN RADIO 1050, TEAM 1040 in Vancouver, Sports Radio 1290 in Winnipeg, TEAM 1200 in Ottawa and THE TEAM 990 in Montreal.


Versus Announces Preseason Schedule

Ken from the Fang’s Bites blog with a special guest appearance on the Versus NHL preseason schedule.

Altogether, Versus airs four games in the preseason starting tomorrow with the Toronto at Philadelphia game. To save costs, Versus will pick up the Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia and Comcast SportsNet Chicago broadcasts for the four games it will air this preseason. I hope that’s not a trend for the upcoming season and playoffs as Versus did that as a way to cut corners last season.

So Versus airs four games produced by the Comcast family, however, it will produce its own studio show for the intermissions. This means fans won’t get to hear the teams of Mike Emrick, Ed Olcyzk and Pierre McGuire or Dave Strader and Brian Engblom until the regular season begins.

Here’s the schedule.

VERSUS NHL preseason schedule (all times ET and subject to change):

Wednesday, September 21 — Toronto at Philadelphia 7 p.m.
Intermissions: McHugh, Milbury, McGuire

Monday, September 26 — New York Rangers at Philadelphia 7 p.m.
Intermissions: McHugh, Jones, McGuire

Wednesday, September 28 — Detroit at Chicago 8:30 p.m.
Intermissions: McHugh, Jones, McGuire

Thursday, September 29 — New Jersey at Philadelphia 7 p.m.
Intermissions: McHugh, Milbury, McGuire

There you have it.

EXCLUSIVE: Bob Harwood Joins the Hurricanes

Former VERSUS reporter Bob Harwood will head south this season.

Harwood, who worked with The NHL on VERSUS from it’s beginning as The NHL on OLN in 2005, confirmed to Puck the Media last night that he will be joining the FS Carolinas broadcast crew for the Carolina Hurricanes. He will serve as host and in-game reporter alongside John Forslund (play-by-play) and Tripp Tracy (color) for the 67 broadcasts FS Carolinas is airing throughout the 2011-12 NHL season.

Harwood was let go by VERSUS after the NBC/Comcast merger, in which NBC’s hockey broadcasting philosophy was put to work on the VERSUS broadcasts, which left all of the network’s reporters without gigs in favor of inside the glass analysts. He continued to do occasional work for the network during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and was in the locker rooms for NHL Network during the Stanley Cup Final.