John Kerry and Bob Costas Join Bettman on Tonight’s NHL Hour

NEW YORK (March 1, 2012) – John Kerry, U.S. Senator for Massachusetts, and sportscaster Bob Costas will be today’s guests on NHL Hour With Commissioner Gary Bettman. The show, which encourages fans to call in with questions, airs Thursdays on NHL Network, NHL.com and on Sirius XM Radio at 6 p.m., ET.

Kerry, a passionate hockey fan and player, will participate Sunday in the fourth annual Congressional Hockey Challenge at Verizon Center, home of the Washington Capitals. The yearly charity hockey game features members of Congress and their staff pitted against registered lobbyists to benefit the Fort DuPont Ice Hockey Club, an award-winning, nationally-recognized hockey program for inner-city youth and a member of the NHL’s Hockey is for Everyone™ initiative.

Yesterday, Commissioner Bettman was in Washington, D.C., to participate in the Congressional Hockey Caucus briefing, which focused on the positive impact community-based youth hockey programs have on the development of essential life skills, character and academic success. At the briefing, a partnership between the NHL and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund was announced to establish a four-year academic scholarship for qualified Hockey is for Everyone participants.

Costas is a 22-time Emmy Award-winning journalist and one of America’s pre-eminent interviewers. His show, Costas Tonight, premieres tonight at 8 p.m., ET, on NBC Sports Network. His guests include Commissioner Bettman, NBA Commissioner David Stern and five-division world champion, current WBC Welterweight Champion and undefeated (42-0) professional boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr.

NHL Hour With Commissioner Gary Bettman broadcasts live on Thursdays from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., ET, on NHL Network, NHL.com and NHL Home Ice (channel 92 on XM and channel 207 on Sirius Premier). The show will re-air on Sirius XM Radio, with archived shows available for download via podcast on NHL.com.

The show encourages fans to call in with questions. To submit questions to NHL Hour, call 1-877-NHL-ON-XM (1-877-645-6696).

 

A Preview of Costas Tonight, Including the Bettman Interview

NEW YORK – February 29, 2012 – Bob Costas, a 22-time Emmy Award-winning journalist and one of America’s preeminent interviewers, premieres his 60-minute interview show Costas Tonight tomorrow 8-9 p.m. ET on the NBC Sports Network.

In his first edition of Costas Tonight, which originates from Studio 8G at 30 Rockefeller Plaza and was taped yesterday, Costas discussed the key topics in the NHL with Commissioner Gary Bettman, and the state of the NBA, including the Jeremy Lin phenomenon, with Commissioner David Stern.

Costas also sat down with the controversial, five-division world champion, current WBC Welterweight Champion and undefeated 42-0 professional boxer, Floyd Mayweather and discussed, among other topics, preparations for his May 5 bout against world class fighter Miguel Cotto, the tumultuous relationship with his father, and if there is a chance for a fight with WBO Welterweight Champion Manny Pacquiao.

Below are highlights from the taping for tomorrow night’s Costas Tonight:

MAYWEATHER ON HIS UPCOMING FIGHT WITH MIGUEL COTTO: “He’s a champion. He’s a guy that I can’t overlook, coming from a Puerto Rican boxing background and me coming from an American boxing family. He poses a threat but it’s a good matchup.”

MAYWEATHER ON GAMBLING: “I’m just about entertainment, you know having personality, being outgoing, being outspoken and, when the gloves are off, I’m just at home on an everyday basis betting on basketball, betting on football. (Tuesday) I placed a bet on Kansas (for the) first half, I bet about 100k and I won about 83k so they came through, (Wednesday) I think I’m going to bet on Duke, for the first half, just before I get on the plane to go to LA. Hopefully it’s not too hot.”

BETTMAN ON IF REMOVING FIGHTING FROM HOCKEY WOULD ALIENATE FANS: “There are those who say if we eliminate it, there are people who aren’t fans who would become fans because they are turned off on it. It is one of the great imponderables.”

BETTMAN ON CONCUSSIONS IN HOCKEY: “We don’t want the head targeted as the principal point of contact, and we actually passed a rule that went into effect this season that prohibits such a hit, but there are a lot of hits in our game. It’s a very physical game where the head is incidentally a point of contact… this is a serious issue. We have medical experts working with us. We’re trying to educate the players. Perhaps the most important thing we’ve done is we are trying to change the culture of the game, where if a guy gets, as they used to say, dinged, it’s ok for a guy to say, ‘I think I have concussion-like symptoms’ and get treatment.”

BETTMAN ON THE BEST THING HE LEARNED FROM STERN WHEN HE WAS AT THE NBA: “I don’t think you can just point to one thing, because it was 12 spectacular years in terms of my professional life. But in terms of doing the right thing, working hard and focusing on what needs to be taken care of, learning how to prioritize, and also managing owners because David has always been extraordinary at that.”

STERN ON SOCIAL MEDIA IN SPORTS TODAY: “I often say and have said that Russell and Chamberlain labored in anonymity compared to today’s athletes.”

STERN ON JEREMY LIN PHENOMENON: “It is a frenzy on a global scale. Jeremy Lin is taking it to another layer on a global scale.”

STERN ON WHETHER HE SOUGHT ADVICE FROM BETTMAN DURING NBA LOCKOUT: “I think it is fair to say that we talk to each other regularly and have a wide range of discussions on relevant topics.”

BETTMAN AND STERN REACTING TO COMMENTS MADE BY BRYANT GUMBEL DURING NBA LOCKOUT ON HBO. GUMBEL SAID: “(Stern) has always seemed eager to be viewed as some kind of modern plantation overseer, treating NBA men as if they were his boys.”

Bettman: “Let me answer first, because I worked with David for over 12 years. That is probably the most ignorant, stupid statement I’ve ever heard. Anybody who knows David knows that nothing could be further from the truth.”

Stern: “Thank you, friend Gary. I actually, you know, sort of enjoyed it to a degree because the flood of phone calls that I got from a very diverse community said ‘What is this guy’s problem?’ And I said, ‘His ratings are going down, it’s a slow news day, he wants some headlines.’ And I wouldn’t say anything publicly, it was taken care of by Charles Barkley and Jesse Jackson.”

Re-Air Dates (All times ET):

Thursday, March 1 – 9 p.m. and 11 p.m.

Friday, March 2 – 2 a.m., 9 a.m., 5 p.m. and 11 p.m.

Saturday, March 3 – 8 p.m.

Sunday, March 4 – 10 p.m.

NBC Has Five Games in Four Days, Plus a Gord Miller/Pierre McGuire Reunion

NEW YORK – (Mar. 1, 2012) – The NBC Sports Group continues its NHL coverage beginning with Sunday’s NHL Game of the Week on NBC when the Atlantic Division-leading New York Rangers host the Northeast Division-leading and defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins at 12:30 p.m. ET. Later that night, the NBC Sports Network will air primetime coverage of the Flyers taking on the Capitals at 7 p.m. ET in a game featuring two teams fighting for playoff positioning.

The NBC Sports Network continues coverage on Mon., March 5, at 8 p.m. ET when the Buffalo Sabres face the Winnipeg Jets and on Tues., March 6 at 9 p.m. ET when the Minnesota Wild take on the Colorado Avalanche. The week concludes with exclusive coverage of the Toronto Maple Leafs against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wed., March 7 at 7:30 p.m. ET.

The team of Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick (play-by-play), Eddie Olczyk (analyst) and Pierre McGuire (‘Inside the Glass’ analyst) will call the action for Sunday’s game on NBC, and Emrick and McGuire will cover NBC Sports Network’s Wednesday night game. Dave Strader (play-by-play) and Brian Engblom (‘Inside the Glass’ analyst) will call Sunday’s game in Washington. Gord Miller (play-by-play) and McGuire will serve as announcers for Monday’s primetime coverage, with Strader and Engblom teaming up again for Tuesday’s game in Colorado. Liam McHugh and analyst Mike Milbury will be covering all the intermissions for NBC Sports’ coverage. Additionally, McHugh hosts NHL Live, NBC Sports Network’s pre- and post-game studio show, and is joined by expert analysts Milbury and Keith Jones. Ron Vaccaro (play-by-play) and Ken Hodge (analyst) will handle college hockey for NBC Sports Network.

FRIDAY NIGHT ICE: The NBC Sports Network’s weekly college hockey series, Friday Night Ice, resumes this Friday when No. 9 Denver faces off against Nebraska-Omaha at 7:30 p.m. ET.

NHL 36: On March 7, NBC Sports Network will air the second installment of the all-access series “NHL 36”, profiling Pittsburgh Penguins forward James Neal. The show, produced by the NHL Original Productions, will air at 6:30 p.m. ET and leads into NBC Sports Network’s exclusive coverage of the Penguins’ home game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

NBCSPORTS.COM: NBCSports.com continues to be the online destination for hockey fans. The website continues to stream the NHL Game of the Week, allowing users to follow all the action and providing them with special features like “Star-Cam,” which follows marquee players throughout the game. NHL content areas on the site include ProHockeyTalk, one of NBCSports.com’s popular “Sports Talk” platforms, where fans can get the most up-to-date news and events. NBCSports.com also has exclusive NHL videos wrapping-up all of the NHL action that day.

NBC Sports Group hockey schedule (all times ET, subject to change):

Date Game Time Network

Fri., March 2 #9 Denver at Nebraska-Omaha 7:30 p.m. NBCSN

Sun., March 4 Boston at New York Rangers 12:30 p.m. NBC

Sun., March 4 Philadelphia at Washington 7:00 p.m. NBCSN

Mon., March 5 Buffalo at Winnipeg 8:00 p.m. NBCSN

Tues., March 6 Minnesota at Colorado 9:00 p.m. NBCSN

Wed., March 7 Toronto at Pittsburgh 7:30 p.m. NBCSN

 

Penguins/Flyers is NBC’s March 18 Game of the Week, Which Means One Team Will Get on NBC Five Times This Year

So much for knowing the NHL on NBC schedule for the rest of the season, because apparently the rule that no team can appear on NBC more than four times has been thrown out the window.

NBC has picked Penguins-Flyers as it’s Game of the Week on March 18th, and will air Capitals-Blackhawks later in the evening on NBC Sports Network. This will mark the Penguins’ 4th appearance on NBC this season, what used to be the limit for the number of times a team could show up on the network. The Bruins are also at this limit. The choices for the next Game of the Week on April 1st are Bruins-Rangers and Flyers-Penguins (great variety). Meaning one team will pass the four-appearance limit.

Perhaps NBC adding another game to their schedule this season meant the limit could increase, perhaps the merger makes appearances more of a grey area between NBC and NBC Sports Network. I guess it doesn’t matter, since they’re – as my readers love to say – just going to show the same six teams over and over again anyway.

Upcoming NBC/NBC Sports Net Sunday Schedule

March 4
12:30 Boston vs. NY Rangers (NBC)
7:00 
Philadelphia vs. Washington (NBCSN)

March 11
12:30 Boston vs. Pittsburgh (NBC)
8:00
 Los Angeles vs. Chicago (NBCSN)

March 18
12:30
 Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia (NBC)
7:00 Washington vs. Chicago (NBCSN)

April 1
12:30
 Philadelphia vs. Pittsburgh OR Boston vs. NY Rangers

April 7
12:30 Buffalo vs. Boston OR Washington vs. NY Rangers OR Philadelphia vs. Pittsburgh OR Chicago vs. Detroit


So Let’s Talk About Milbury and JR Yelling Through Each Other on NHL Live Last Night

So this happened last night. Everybody wrote about it, including Deadspin, Puck Daddy and Barry Melrose Rocks among others. Of course, since I’m the guy who runs the website where we all discuss what happens on the TV, I have to give my two cents, in a segment I’m going to call:

Let’s Try to Talk About These Two Men Talking About a Children’s Game Like Children, Like Adults.

Mike Milbury and Jeremy Roenick’s shouting match last night was something I thought NBC had gotten rid of when Milbury and Pierre McGuire were given a host to moderate their discussion. Tonight, Bill Patrick was the host with Liam McHugh getting the night off. First of all, why is Roenick even on the show? His thing is Overtime, which airs an hour later. Was he brought on simply so Milbury could have someone to argue with? Was he so personally offended by Milbury’s comments that he felt the need to say his piece before all the viewers of the post-game show went to bed? Why did this happen?

First of all, a little credit to Milbury: he tries to responsibly moderate this discussion. He makes an informed case about the concussion problem in the NHL. He shows evidence that hits similar to the one made by Eric Nystrom on Kris Letang during last nights Pittsburgh-Dallas game need to be legislated out of the sport. Then it was Roenick who was doing most of the yelling, Roenick trying to weaken Milbury’s argument by claiming Milbury had “softened” and feminizing his argument to degrade him (he called him “soft” again later on NHL Overtime, when Milbury wasn’t even on set), and by saying he would by Milbury a Shirley Temple. Mike Milbury acted like the adult in this one, but eventually got dragged down to a shouting match with Roenick. If only Keith Jones, standing around like Brick Tamland in the film Anchorman, could’ve just shouted out “Loud Noises!”, it would have completed the scene.

That said, we could all do without Milbury criticizing the coach/in-game interview yet again. I agree with Mad Mike in that it is kind of unnecessary, but saying he would tell Pierre McGuire where he could shove that microphone kind of only works if Dan Bylsma wasn’t kind, courteous and even agreed that the hit wasn’t dirty when Pierre actually talked to him on the bench.

Hockey fans don’t have to put up with the cable news-ification of hockey talk on television. Look, we watched TSN and Sportsnet on Monday for 10 hours and barely got tired. We know it can, and will be done better by other networks. Just because NBC has a monopoly on hockey talk in the states doesn’t mean we can’t just ignore it. We can find it elsewhere. All we need is an internet connection or the NHL Network. We deserve better than two men yelling at each other like children about an issue that may threaten a young man’s (Letang) livelihood via a concussion.  We just don’t need (and don’t want) yelling.

Though, to be fair, the discussion did what it was intended to do: it got attention. It got traded around all the most popular blog outlets, including NBC’s own Pro Hockey Talk. So perhaps I’m wrong here. But I really don’t think so. I think hockey fans truly know what a serious issue this his that threatens our game on a night-by-night basis. I think they want to hear what the “experts” who have been through the wars have to say about hits to the head and concussions. I don’t think they want to hear FOX News or MSNBC-esque talking heads in a box telling each other where they can shove it. This subject deserves better, and the great fans of this league deserve better.