24/7 Preview Debuts Friday

HBO Sports® will present “Preview to 24/7 Flyers/Rangers: Road To

The NHL Winter Classic,” a 12-minute preview of the upcoming NHL reality

series featuring the spirited rivalry between the Philadelphia Flyers and

the New York Rangers, which is set to air exclusively on HBO. Debuting

Friday, November 25 at 9:15 p.m. ET/PT, the special will serve as a primer

to the acclaimed series for new viewers as well as an introduction of the

players and coaches who will appear on the all-access series as they

prepare for the NHL’s iconic outdoor game.


The Flyers are guided by Peter Laviolette, the Rangers by John

Tortorella. The teams will meet in the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic

on Monday, January 2 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.


“Preview to 24/7 Flyers/Rangers: Road to the NHL Winter Classic”

will air a total of 12 times on the main service plus six times on HBO2.

The preview also will be available 24 hours a day at HBO ON DEMAND®,

starting November 27 as well as on HBO GO®.


HBO replay schedule: HBO2 replay schedule:

All times are ET/PT. All times are ET/PT.


Nov. 25 (9:15 p.m.) Nov. 25 (5:40 a.m.)

Nov. 26 (12:00 p.m.) Dec. 8 (1:15 p.m. and 8:45


Nov. 29 (12:30 p.m. and 4:05 a.m.) Dec. 11 (8:15 a.m.)

Dec. 2 (9:30 a.m. and 12:30 a.m.) Dec. 15 (6:15 a.m. and 9:45


Dec. 4 (9:00 a.m.)

Dec. 6 (8:15 p.m.)

Dec. 9 (2:30 p.m.)

Dec. 12 (5:15 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.)

Dec. 14 (7:00 p.m.)


HBO’s Emmy-Award®-winning “24/7” reality franchise premiered

its first-ever pro hockey series last December and “24/7 Penguins/Capitals”

was honored with the Sports Emmy® for “Outstanding Edited Sports Special.”

“24/7 Flyers/Rangers: Road to the NHL Winter Classic” debuts with episode

one on Wednesday, December 14 at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT on HBO with an immediate

encore play at 11:00 p.m. ET/PT.

Under 200K Watched Sid The Kid’s Return on Versus. Seriously?

Ken from Fang’s Bites coming over once again to give you some NHL ratings news.

Numbers are in for Versus’ airing of Monday night’s New York Islanders-Pittsburgh Penguins game which marked the return of Sidney Crosby back to the NHL after 10 months following his concussion. PTM Fearless Leader Steve discovers that the viewership numbers nationally were miniscule. Granted, it was up against Monday Night Football on ESPN, the cable ratings killer, but you would think more people would watch. Only an estimated 198,000 viewers?

Granted, the local numbers especially in Pittsburgh were better, but one would expect hockey fans to be interested. Perhaps it was the Islanders not being a national draw, but I thought this would draw higher numbers.

The lesson from all this? It’s best not to have an NHL showcase opposite Monday Night Football on ESPN and Dancing with the Stars on ABC.

NBC Sports Network to Get Back Into Boxing

NEW YORK – November 22, 2011 – NBC Sports Group announced today the formation of NBC Sports Network Fight Night, a boxing series featuring premier boxing talent. Fight Night will debut on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012 on the NBC Sports Network (which will be renamed from VERSUS on Jan. 2, 2012), from Asylum Arena in Philadelphia, Pa. The Fight Night cards are being scheduled in cities that are served by a Comcast Sports Group regional network, and the regional networks will help promote the events and have the ability to re-air fights.

NBC Sports Group will work with Main Events and Hall-of-Fame matchmaker J Russell Peltz on a multi-promoter strategy for NBC Sports Network Fight Night designed to produce the best quality fights. It is a strategy in which any promoter can participate to get their boxers involved in these programs.

“This is a unique approach to have multiple promoters competing to put fights on NBC Sports Network,” said Jon Miller, President, programming, NBC Sports and NBC Sports Network. “That, coupled with the legendary matchmaker J Russell Peltz serving as our quality control expert, ensures that boxing fans will enjoy exciting and competitive matches.”

“We are reaching out to all promoters to get involved in the series, and our priority is simply to make exciting fights. We don’t care who brings the fighters,” said Kathy Duva, president, Main Events. “We expect that multiple promoters will be involved in each of the Fight Night programs. All fighters who are willing to further their careers by engaging in compelling, interesting, meaningful matches are welcome.”

“Fights in this series will be solid, competitive and exciting,” said Peltz. “Borrowing the philosophy of the late Madison Square Garden matchmaker Teddy Brenner, my bouts will be made on the following criteria: Do the fighters’ styles mesh to make an exciting fight? Does this fight lead to something? And would I buy a ticket to it? These should be good fights for boxing fans.”


Saturday, January 21, 9-11 p.m. – Philadelphia

Saturday, March 24, 10 p.m.-Midnight – Site TBA

Saturday, June 16, 9-11 p.m. – Site TBA

Saturday, December 8, 9-11 p.m. – Site TBA

NBC Prepares For the Thanksgiving Showdown

NEW YORK (November 22, 2011)— A new tradition will begin this year when NBC Sports drops the puck on its NHL coverage earlier than ever with the inaugural 2011 Discover NHL Thanksgiving ShowdownTM on Friday, November 25, at 1 p.m. ET between the defending Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins and the Detroit Red Wings.

This will mark the earliest NHL regular-season broadcast on network television in more than 20 years and the only time these two teams will meet during the regular season. The Friday-after-Thanksgiving matinee is a local Bruins tradition that began in 1990.

“The NHL and NBC have a great partnership and we are always looking for new events to help showcase this sport,” said Sam Flood, Executive Producer for NBC Sports and VERSUS. “As a Boston native, I’m excited to take what has turned into a great local tradition – a Bruins game on the Friday after Thanksgiving – and introduce it to national audience by airing it on NBC, and simultaneously starting our broadcast coverage earlier than ever.”

In an effort to provide an even better viewing experience for fans, the inaugural NHL Thanksgiving Showdown will feature a microphone on one of the referees (Kelly Sutherland) to capture on-ice audio for the first time in a regular-season game on NBC.

The team of Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick (play-by-play), Eddie Olczyk (analyst) and Pierre McGuire (‘Inside the Glass’ analyst) will call the action in Boston. NBC will surround its game coverage with pre-game, intermission and post-game reports live from the arena with studio host Liam McHugh and analyst Mike Milbury.

EMRICK ON THE GAME: “It’s a combination of a terrific present and a glorious past. The Bruins are the defending Stanley Cup champions, and they just ran the table in a five-game home stand for the first time in 25 years. Detroit started the season winning the first five, and put together another streak of four straight wins. The styles contrast. These are the two oldest U.S.-based NHL franchises and two of the most prominent U.S. franchises in winning Stanley Cups. They have been playing each other for 85 years.”

MCGUIRE ON THE GAME: “This game pits two original six teams who have lifted the Cup recently. Both teams have to show urgency for points and because of that need, this has the makings of an early season playoff game.”

VERSUS Cautiously Optimistic, Then Rightfully Excited Upon Crosby’s Wonderful Return

It’s a difficult juggling act in uncharted waters. I solicited the opinion of one broadcaster yesterday whom – besides the return of Mario Lemieux 11 years ago – said that the last time a hockey broadcast was so geared toward the presence of one player’s presence was when ESPN covered Wayne Gretzky breaking the NHL’s goal-scoring record, more than 17 years ago. 48 hours ago, VERSUS play-by-play man Dave Strader was preparing to go to Montreal for a Bruins-Canadiens game. CBC was going to air it’s typical Monday night lineup. That all changed when Sidney Crosby single-handedly became not merely a subplot to the NHL season, but the driving force behind nearly a full day of hockey talk. He was what so few NHL players are at any point in their careers. He was bigger than the sport.

Did he ever justify it, scoring a goal on his second shift, adding another and two assists as the Penguins thrashed the lowly Islanders, 5-0. It might be the rare example of a game that VERSUS viewers (since both NY and Pittsburgh were blacked out for local coverage) likely wanted to see a blowout instead of a hotly contested game. If the Pens were going to run away with it, you want to see Sidney Crosby put up the nutty numbers that have given him a reputation as one of the league’s best players.

As I said earlier, VERSUS had a really difficult juggling act. They had to make Crosby an immense part of the story. He was the only reason they were televising that game. Any coverage of the game had to be done with that caveat in mind. From what I saw (a miscue from somebody meant I got to see up until the end of the first period here in Jersey) the network did an okay job of handling the whole thing. The NHL Live crew – which, when they aren’t talking fighting and headshots, has developed into a pretty decent team this season – were kind of, as my headline suggests, cautiously optimistic about Crosby’s return. You could tell there was a little worry in analysts Mike Milbury in Keith Jones as to how Crosby would handle physical play. Liam McHugh did his best to work a little bit of the Islanders into the show without overtly hinting that Hey, this team sucks and Sid’s been known to put up a ton of points against them.

When we finally got to the game, Dave Strader and Pierre McGuire did a good job of not going too far with Crosby, while still emphasizing his individual importance and ability to fit into the Penguins lineup. The only portion of the telecast I saw that felt a little off was when McGuire simply rattled off silly statistical coincidences that had to do with Crosby and his team’s owner, Mario Lemieux’s number. Otherwise, Strader’s call was solid and neither of them went full-on homer mode when Crosby scored both of his goals. They just seemed dazzled, like anyone else who watched likely was.

A minor complaint: If NHL.com was so all-out last night that they were willing to have reporter Dan Rosen blog every single one of his shifts, could we not have gotten the “Star-cam” that NHL.com and NBCSports.com use for every NHL on NBC game? Seems like if any night would have called for it, this was the one.

In the end, it was a really great moment for a league that needed something buzzworthy that had nothing to do with headshots in the worst way. Some fans may never come to terms with Crosby’s cache with the media and the NHL’s television partners, with the incessant hype and 25-30 network appearances per season that any team he plays for will be granted. But hey, if you were on the fence about it before tonight, the absolutely dominant performance the league’s biggest star put out there last night certainly justified much of it.

NHL Live Has a Crosby-tastic Show This Evening

I don’t usually do this, but the NHL sent me the guest list for NHL Live (the NHL Network version) tonight, and it is certainly the show to watch to get you set for the return of Sidney Crosby.

Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero will appear on the show at 5:30 p.m. ET, while broadcasters Bob McKenzie, Dave Strader, Darren Dreger, Barry Melrose and Marc Crawford will all call into the show to give their take on Crosby’s first game since January 5th. NHL.com senior writer Dan Rosen will be reporting live from Pittsburgh on both NHL Live and NHL On the Fly tonight.

Give the NHL and their television partners a ton of credit, they swooped into action like nothing I’ve ever seen before for this event, and the league’s fans are all the better for it.

Your NHL National TV Schedule For the Week of November 21

Monday, November 21

NY Islanders vs. Pittsburgh, 7:00 p.m. ET
National TV (US):
Play by Play: Dave Strader
Inside the Glass: Pierre McGuire

National TV (Canada): CBC
Play by Play: Jim Hughson
Color: Craig Simpson
Inside the Glass: Glenn Healy
Reporter: Elliotte Friedman

Tuesday, November 22

Los Angeles vs. St. Louis, 7:30 p.m. ET, VERSUS/TSN2
Play by Play:
Mike Emrick
Inside the Glass: Brian Engblom

Wednesday, November 23

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

Friday, November 25

Detroit vs. Boston, 1:00 p.m. ET, NBC/TSN
Play by Play:
Mike Emrick
Color: Eddie Olczyk
Inside the Glass: Pierre McGuire

NY Rangers vs. Washington, 4:00 p.m. ET, NHL Network (US)

Saturday, November 26

NY Rangers vs. Philadelphia, 2:00 p.m. ET, NHL Network (US)

Edmonton vs. Colorado, 7:00 p.m. ET, CBC (Airs in Alberta and British Columbia)
Play by Play:
Mark Lee
Color: Daryl Reaugh

Winnipeg vs. Boston, 7:00 p.m. ET, CBC (Airs in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Northwestern Ontario)
Play by Play:
Dean Brown
Color: Kevin Weekes

Pittsburgh vs. Montreal, 7:00 p.m. ET, CBC/NHL Network (US) (Airs in Quebec, most of Ontario and Atlantic Canada)
Play by Play:
Bob Cole
Color: Gary Galley
Inside the Glass: Glenn Healy
Reporter: Cassie Campbell

Vancouver vs. San Jose, 10:00 p.m. ET, CBC
Play by Play:
Jim Hughson
Color: Craig Simpson
Reporter: Scott Oake

Random Cities: Billy Jaffe

Puck the Media’s bi-weekly feature, Random Cities, takes you inside the world of broadcasting from an angle you might not have seen before. We take each personality through various cities that have impacted their life and/or career, and let them elaborate with stories and memories about each. Enjoy.

This Week’s Subject: Billy Jaffe, currently a studio analyst for (deep breath) NHL Network, Rogers Sportsnet, NESN and MSG Network. He’s also worked with Fox College Sports, NHL Radio and CSTV, among many others.

City #1: Chicago (1997-2000)

Billy Jaffe: Back in 1997, I fell into it with the Chicago Blackhawks organization, doing their radio analysis – not in-game but pre-game, intermission, post-game, and doing the coach’s show – with no previous experience, and then it started picking up that year. I did two games on TV, one for the Wolves, one for Fox. Then the next year I fell into full time, I was able to do the Hawks full time on radio, and then I did the Chicago Wolves full-time, and college hockey.

PTM: Was that part of the era when, at times, the Wolves were a little more exciting than the Blackhawks?

BJ: Yeah, no question about it [laughs]. I have the honor of knowing that in my first year in broadcasting was the first time in 28 years that the Hawks didn’t make the playoffs. They had some streak going, and my first year I fell into broadcasting, completely ass-backwards falling into it, they don’t make the playoffs, but it’s alright. I was really proud of that [laughs].

The Wolves were the younger brother in town, so to speak, but they were coming on. They were big then, they were huge. I’ll never forget this, my first full year with them, I think it was the 98-99 season, they won the Turner Cup in the IHL. I’ll never forget, it was Game 5 of the Turner Cup at the Rosemont Horizon (now the Allstate Arena) – it was Grand Rapids and Chicago, the Wolves were up 3-1 – and they have a chance to win it at home. The game was supposed to start at seven. The game didn’t start until almost 7:40, because there were 5,000 people lined up outside the building for tickets. There was over 17-18,000 people in that building. It was unbelievable, and the place was literally rocking. It was great because there were seven goals scored in the first period, 4-3 Wolves, and they ended up losing the game, it was kind of a buzzkill. They ended up winning it in Grand Rapids the next game.

Puck the Media: You’re from Chicago, worked with the Blackhawks, so do you appreciate just how big a turn-around they made once Rocky Wirtz and John McDounough took over the franchise, just how far they fell out and how far they came back?

BJ: No question. They were unfortunately irrelevant it many areas of Chicago. It’s one thing to be on the low end of the popularity chain, it’s another thing to be irrelevant. That’s the worst thing you can be. On many levels they were, and it was very sad to see that. I can only tell you that I’ve gotten to know the people with the Hawks organization now and they’re tremendous. They miss no detail, it’s unbelievable how thorough, organized, prepared, everything they are.

Secondly, I can only tell you this: I have a lot of friends that for years, the crowd that’s a little older than I am, in their late 40’s/early 50’s, were like “Eh, I go to Bulls games, I don’t really go to hockey games.” And now, in the last five years, oh my God, they’re all going to hockey. They’re all back, they’re all Hawk fans. I don’t know, they probably all have the Indian Head tattooed on their backsides [laughs]. It’s the hottest thing, it’s the greatest thing, and they put on such a good show, such a good product, it’s great.

City #2: Atlanta, GA (2001-2006)

PTM: I talked to Pete Weber last time I did this, and I talked about having to – as a broadcaster – get out in the community and be an ambassador for the franchise. Did you experience some of that working for the Thrashers?

BJ: Yeah, a lot of it, I loved that. I went to the Thrashers in their second year, and it was made clear that the Thrashers broadcasters, all four of us, it was – I won’t say expected, it wasn’t an order – like “Hey, you know we want you to help build the brand down there.” I loved that, I absolutely loved that. I loved being involved, whether it was through hockey school, playing a lot of golf outings in little places in Georgia, where they didn’t know an awful lot about hockey. As far as I’m concerned, that is a part of the responsibility of broadcasters, especially for – and I think Pete would say the same thing – new teams a lot of times, broadcasters are the voices people become familiar with more than players right away. I think it’s important to do and I love it.

I really got involved with it there, with the Atlanta Thrashers hockey schools with Darren Eliot, a dear friend and wonderful broadcaster. Darren really did a lot, and I helped out as one of the instructors. Then I did my own adult hockey camp down there. There was a program that the Atlanta Spirit group ran, where we went to schools. During the season it was hard to do, but during the off-season and even during the lockout – I was going to schools once a week – it was a great learning to read program, incorporating hockey and basketball. It was a lot of fun, very important, and I just think that if you’re with a team, you’re part of it. If you can help out in any way, especially Atlanta in that kind of market, I’m willing to do it.

PTM: Obviously, the Thrashers had to move after last season. Did that affect you in a big way, having been there from almost the start?

BJ: You know, it affected me because the guys that were still there working as broadcasters and especially the hockey ops. people and the trainers, equipment managers, people that were involved on a day-to-day basis, I know what that meant for them, it meant no more work. That’s hard. We’re such a small industry. When you lose an opportunity, and everybody’s going to at some point, it happens to all of us, some times more than once. But when it happens, it’s really hard, and you think to yourself, “Oh my God, how am I going to get myself back in.” It’s a really small industry. When I saw that happen to my friends – thankfully they’re all still working – but right away that really bothered me the most, the people who were going to have issues with work.

I’m disappointed that the team isn’t there, but there were indications for a few years that there were issues, and they never rectified, and because of that they had to make a move. It’s a shame, I know there’s a hardcore fanbase there, but any business knows you need more than just a hardcore fanbase to survive. Any business, in any industry.

PTM: With Winnipeg, it just seems like there’s not merely a hardcore fanbase, it’s just “the thing” to do there. Hockey has sort of an advantage in Canada and the Northern parts of the U.S. where it’s not just part of the lifeblood, it’s also cool.

BJ: Well, in Atlanta for the first few years it was extremely cool to go there. I mean, it was the in thing, and Atlanta’s a very trendy… there’s a lot of people there that follow the trends. It was very hip and hot, and then the team not winning obviously makes a big difference. I would argue that, yes, Canada has an obvious advantage for it’s inheritance of their game and everything, but even the Canadian teams who are selling out 99% of the time, they still have to make it kind of the hip, fun thing to do. They have to. It’s just the way we are now in the school. They need to have the fun thing to do, you need a good product, but you need a good product in many ways.

I think with better ownership, and better result, I think Atlanta could have survived. It was taking hold, but then there were some major mistakes made.

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Versus Gets In On The Crosby Act

Ken Fang from Fang’s Bites coming over to PTM today to bring you this post.

About an hour after CBC announced it was picking up Sidney Crosby’s NHL season debut for Hockey Night in Canada, Versus says it will do the same. The network was originally slated to carry Boston-Montreal at 7:30 p.m. ET, but with this new development, Versus has adjusted its schedule.

With Sidney Crosby making his return to the Pittsburgh Penguins lineup for the first time since January 5, VERSUS is switching from the Boston Bruins/Montreal Canadiens game scheduled for Monday night to air the New York Islanders/Penguins game at 7 p.m. from the CONSOL Energy Center. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. ET with NHL Live after a 30-minute edition of NBC SportsTalk at 6 p.m. ET

COMMENTATORS: The team of Dave Strader (play-by-play announcer) and Pierre McGuire (‘Inside the Glass’ analyst) will call all the action from Pittsburgh.

That will do it.

The Return of the Kid, Monday on CBC

NHL superstar Sidney Crosby makes his highly anticipated return to the Pittsburgh Penguins line-up as they take on the New York Islanders on a special edition of CBC’S HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA on Monday, November 21 at 7 p.m. ET.

The veteran play-by-play team of Jim Hughson and analyst Craig Simpson will call the game from the broadcast booth with Glenn Healy providing analysis from between the benches. Ron MacLean will set the stage for the game as he hosts from the CBC’S HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA studio.

The Penguins’ captain has been out of the line-up since January 5, 2011, due to a concussion – a span of 61 consecutive regular-season games. The former league MVP and perennial all-star will rejoin his team at the start of a three-game home stand.