NHL Network Has A Good Idea with Plays of the Week Show

NHL Network made a lot of changes this fall. Little tweaks to try and make everything a little bit better and more efficient. Combining signature shows NHL Live and NHL On the Fly into one block of original programming from 5 p.m. until at least 10 p.m. and as late as 1 a.m. on some nights on some nights was a great idea. Doing NHL On the Fly preview shows for all six divisions and the Premiere games gets NHL Network one step closer to a hockey version of MLB Networks 30 in 30. Getting Barry Melrose to pop in and out on various programs was another solid tweak to their various shows. The studio revamp in New York City, with another one coming when they launch out in Connecticut, was yet another.

However, there haven’t been anything really new in terms of programming from NHL Net that we haven’t seen before. That’s why it was nice to see – with not too much promotion from what I saw on the network this week – the launch of an NHL Network Plays of the Week show. Hosted by Kathryn Tappen (a solid addition for the channel) on Saturday nights at 6 p.m. ET, the show delivers exactly what it promises: the Top 10 hits, goals and saves from the prior week of NHL action in orderly fashion.

The show’s format works as such: In the first few segments, the top 10 goals, hits and saves count down from numbers 10 through two. Following a brief segment from new analyst Melrose from the ESPN studios, each of the #1 plays is showcased. Towards the end, you get a downright batty “look into the future” segment from EJ Hradek (I mean that in a good way) and overall, it is a decent way to spend a half hour of television if you enjoy hockey and all of the awesome things that the athletes who play it can do.

A couple of suggestions: Separate regular goals from shootout goals. Not to be “that guy who hates shootouts,” even if I am, but if the “goals” scored in shootouts don’t count in regular season play, why not just give the shootout goals their own segments. It seems like kind of a cheat that all the great plays that players are able to pull-off with 10-12 skaters on the ice have to be mixed in with a 1-on-1 goal. I say do a separate Top 5 shootout goals (since there aren’t always that many great shootout moves) and let the goals segment run with stuff that happens in the middle of 5-on-5 (or 5-on-4, 5-on-3, whatever) action.

Another one: if you’re going to have something as goofy as EJ Hradek’s “predicting the top play of next week” (in which Hradek actually sits in a dark room looking into a fake crystal ball) why not go full bore with that tone? Let the show be a bit wacky and madcap. Let it be loose, show some bloopers and mistakes. Heck, add sound effects even. I’m not saying go over the top, but hey, it’s 6 p.m. on a Saturday evening, the kids can watch it. Give them something funny and enjoyable instead of straightforward. Hockey players are like superheroes to kids, this show seems like an excellent opportunity to promote them as such (I think I may have spent too much time at New York Comic-Con this weekend). A weekly “NHL for kids” show in itself would be a great idea.

Overall, I liked what I saw out of the show. There’s a definite need for something like this to exist outside of seemingly interminable commercial runs during other programming. MLB Network has shows where they’ll count down hundreds of plays of the week, month, years. I hope NHL Network uses this to start rethinking it’s anthology countdown series (the Top 10’s, classic series, etc.) and really starts pumping out new stuff to fill up programming hours. This is a good start.

Tony Amonte Joins NHL Overtime This Week

After spending last week using VERSUS mainstays like Keith Jones and Eddie Olczyk, NHL Overtime has landed it’s first true “guest” analyst, as former NHL star Tony Amonte joins Bill Patrick and Jeremy Roenick on the show this Monday and Tuesday, according to the network’s Facebook page.. The show will only air twice this week, as VERSUS is only airing two NHL games.

Amonte, who scored 416 NHL goals, as well as the game-winner for the United States in the 1996 World Cup of Hockey, has been doing some analyst work for CSN New England prior to this. Amonte and Roenick played together on the Chicago Blackhawks from 1994-1996, and then again on the Philadelphia Flyers in 2003-2004.

NHL Overtime airs Monday at 10 p.m. ET and Tuesday at 10:30 p.m. ET this week.

Kurtenblog Joins NBC Sports in Blogging, Television Role

Good for Mike and Jason, who’ve always been very kind to me. They’ll excel at this.

NEW YORK – October 17, 2011 – Popular NHL bloggers Jason Brough and Mike Halford have joined NBC Sports Digital to be the featured writers for ProHockeyTalk on NBCSports.com. Previously, Brough and Halford penned the Orland Kurtenblog for the Vancouver Province and hosted the KB Radio show on TEAM 1040 in Vancouver.

Brough and Halford will become the lead voices on NBCSports.com’s ProHockeyTalk, joining current writer Joe Yerdon to cover all topics across the NHL.

They will also contribute regular posts and provide video reports to NBCSports.com, and are expected to have a television role as guests on NBC SportsTalk, the daily hour-long show on VERSUS; as well as on NHL studio programming for both NBC and VERSUS.

“I couldn’t be more excited to join the best team in the world when it comes to covering the NHL on TV and online,” said Brough. “Working for NBC is an honor. I just hope Mike Milbury doesn’t yell at us.”

“When NBC first contacted me, I figured it was about my application to the page program,” Halford said. “Turns out they wanted me to blog about hockey, which was cool too.”

“NBCSports.com has enjoyed great success with our “SportsTalk” platform, particularly with Mike Florio and ProFootballTalk. Jason and Mike have a similar passion, style and irreverence to grow ProHockeyTalk, said Rick Cordella, General Manager, NBCSports.com. “They are two of the most colorful personalities in hockey, achieving cult-like status in Vancouver. We’re extremely excited to add their humorous thoughts, strong opinions and deep hockey knowledge to ProHockeyTalk on NBCSports.com.”

Brough and Halford wrote for the Vancouver Province since 2007 and co-founded the Orland Kurtenblog (http://www.kurtenblog.com), a blog covering the NHL with specific focus on the Vancouver Canucks, featuring a mix of humor and analysis. In 2009 they created and hosted Kurtenblog Radio on TEAM 1040, Vancouver’s flagship sports station.

Your NHL National TV Schedule For the Week of October 17

Monday, October 17

Colorado vs. Toronto, 7:00 p.m. ET, VERSUS
Play by Play:
Mike Emrick
Inside the Glass: Pierre McGuire

Tuesday, October 18

Pittsburgh vs. Minnesota, 7:30 p.m. ET, VERSUS/TSN2
Play by Play:
Dave Strader
Inside the Glass: Brian Engblom

Buffalo vs. Montreal, 7:30 p.m. ET, TSN
Play by Play:
Chris Cuthbert
Inside the Glass: Ray Ferraro

NY Rangers vs. Vancouver, 10:00 p.m. ET, TSN
Play by Play:
Gord Miller
Inside the Glass: Mike Johnson

Wednesday, October 19

Winnipeg vs. Toronto, 7:30 p.m. ET, TSN
Play by Play:
Chris Cuthbert
Inside the Glass: Ray Ferraro

Thursday, October 20

Toronto vs. Boston, 7:00 p.m. ET, TSN
Play by Play:
Gord Miller
Inside the Glass: Ray Ferraro

Washington vs. Philadelphia, 7:00 p.m. ET, NHL Network (US)

NY Rangers vs. Calgary, 9:30 p.m. ET, TSN
Play by Play:
Dave Randorf
Inside the Glass: Mike Johnson

Saturday, October 22

Minnesota vs. Vancouver, 4:00 p.m. ET, NHL Network (US)

Toronto vs. Montreal, 7:00 p.m. ET, CBC (Ontario, Quebec, Atlantic, Alberta, BC)
Play by Play:
Jim Hughson
Color: Craig Simpson
Inside the Glass: Glenn Healy
Reporter: David Amber

Columbus vs. Ottawa, 7:00 p.m. ET, CBC (Ottawa)
Play by Play:
Dean Brown
Color: Greg Millen

Carolina vs. Winnipeg, 7:00 p.m. ET, CBC (Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Northwestern Ontario)
Play by Play:
Bob Cole
Color: Gary Galley
Reporter: Mitch Peacock

Detroit vs. Washington, 7:00 p.m. ET, NHL Network (US)

NY Rangers vs. Edmonton, 10:00 p.m. ET, CBC
Play by Play:
Mark Lee
Color: Kevin Weekes
Reporter: Scott Oake

(NOTE: Thanks to Josh from Canadian Sports Media Blog for TSN listings)