The World Junior Championships: One of 75 Hockey-Related Things that VERSUS Has the Time and Money to Air, Yet Doesn’t (Plus WJC TV Schedule)

This came into my consciousness about a week ago, and I’ve been meaning to do something with it, but didn’t have the opportunity until now.  I’ve always wanted to check out the World Junior Championships, but haven’t for a bunch of reasons.  NHL hockey is on, I’m too uninterested to find a website.  But most importantly because, you know, no American network will go near broadcasting the tournament.  

Here’s last weeks press release from USA Hockey about the NHL Network’s Originally Produced (and some simulcasted) coverage of this year’s tournament.  I have some thoughts on it, after the jump.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Matt McConnellDave Starman and Fred Pletsch will make up the broadcast team for the NHL Network’s coverage of U.S. games in the upcoming International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship, Dec. 26 – Jan. 5 in Ottawa.


The NHL Network will televise all U.S. games of the event. In addition, the Network will broadcast all medal-round games and all of Team Canada’s preliminary-round games. The U.S. games will have a production and broadcast team, while all other contests on the NHL Network will utilize a feed from TSN.


McConnell, who will handle play-by-play duties, has 12 years of experience as an NHL broadcaster. He is currently the lead play-by-play broadcaster for NCAA hockey on CBS College Sports and also fills in on Atlanta Thrashers broadcasts on SportSouth.


Starman, who will serve as the analyst, is currently the lead analyst for CBS College Sports coverage of NCAA hockey. His resume includes previous broadcasting stints covering both the New York Rangers and the New York Islanders.


Pletsch, who will serve as the rinkside reporter, is in his ninth season as an analyst on the Central Collegiate Hockey Association Game of the Week on Fox Sports Detroit and has also worked as a sideline reporter for ESPN during the NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Championship. He is currently the associate commissioner of the CCHA.


The first NHL Network broadcast from the 2009 IIHF World Junior Championship will take place on Dec. 26 at 3:30 p.m. EST, when Team USA faces Germany. The complete schedule is below.

NOTE: Broadcast coverage of the IIHF World Junior Championship on the NHL Network is only available to viewers in the United States.

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New VERSUS President Finally (!) Pushes Back at Naysayers, Including Paul Kelly

We imagine that, if there’s a song on Guns N’ Roses new record Chinese Democracy that new VERSUS President Jamie Baker truly identifies with between his network and the NHL, it’s the fired up “can’t stop us now” attitude of “Scraped”.  Check out these lyrics:

Some may convince you
No one can break through
I’m here to tell you
You’re worth more than they tell you
Don’t you try to stop us now
I just refuse
Don’t you try to stop us now
‘Cause I just won’t let you

It’s got to be hard for anyone at VERSUS to hold themselves up high, what with everyone and their mother speaking out about how you’re killing a beloved, 80-year-old league.  The criticism of VERSUS has long been aimed at the network itself, and not the greedy owners who took Comcast’s money over ESPN’s distribution.  Well, Davis finally spoke out against those who’ve been belittling his network at an industry event recently.

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Breaking News: VERSUS Has Best Night Ever Among Households with Detroit-Pittsburgh (Updated with VERSUS PR

Quick update, more later:

– 0.5 National Rating, 5.8 in Pittsburgh, 3.3 in Detroit, #1 on cable in both markets.

-Highest Household Rating ever, ties Detroit/Toronto for best national rating ever.

-Network overall up 7% in households, 14% in viewers, 20% or higher increases in all key male demos. 

Thanks to Katie Bradshaw from VERSUS, more later.

UPDATED 1:12 PM: After the jump, the entire VERSUS press release.  Again, thanks to Katie Bradshaw with the network. Read more of this post

Could Detroit-Pittsburgh Be VERSUS’ Highest Rated Regular Season Game Ever?

There’s an underlying buzz to tonight’s Red Wings-Penguins game (7:00 PM ET, VERSUS).  It’s the first regular season game since Sean Avery’s return to the New York area to have an actual made-for-TV storyline, and before that, who knows?  The point is, this game is probably one every hockey fan circled on their calendars the minute the schedule was released.  

That’s why VERSUS has been doing it’s honest-to-goodness best effort to pimp the life out of this matchup.  I think they started playing commercials for the game 10 days before the season started.  However, they have good reason to.  

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5 Things to Expect… From Tonight’s Tampa-Washington Broadcast Crew

Welcome once again to “5 Things to Expect…” our regular countdown of dick jokes and pithy toss-offs getting ready for an NHL National TV broadcast.  This time around, we focus on Joe Beninati (play-by-play), Billy Jaffe (color analyst) and Chris Simpson (rink reporter), the crew for tonight’s Tampa-Washington game on VERSUS and TSN2.  Enjoy

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Housekeeping: The Entire Remaining U.S. National TV Schedule

We did a post on this at our previous digs, but we wanted it here for posterity.  And to help any confused readers out.  What follows is the remaining VERSUS schedule as well as the NBC Flex Schedule.  Enjoy.

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Versus Gets it Right with Tonight’s Broadcast Team, but not with Skipping a Night

First of all, cheers to Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy for his terrific piece on VERSUS’ reinvention of their website, which we’ve previously commented on.  In that vein, it’s time for a new feature here at Puck the Media, in which we take a look at some of the good and bad VERSUS is ultimately doing in the hockey world.  So we introduce you to the initial version of VERSUS Giveth… VERSUS Taketh Away.

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VERSUS Continues to Make Me Nuts, Starts Airing NBA Series

Once in awhile, folks, I will take a look at for the network’s monthly schedule.  It’s an easy way to keep myself updated on the goings-on at the channel (I found out about Sports Soup pretty early on compared to others) and once in a blue moon, you find the excitement of the channel planning a new hockey special.

But well, sometimes you get things like this:  Tonight, and every Wednesday at 7:00 PM, VERSUS will air a series called “NBA Action”.  According to, the series “delivers highlights and news from around the league, including a recap of the past week’s on-court action and statistics.”

What in the name of Eddie Shore is this crap?  VERSUS can’t devote a half an hour a week to rebroadcast the NHL Productions-made “Cool Shots” here in the states, but it’s just fine and dandy for them to air a series that promotes a league that VERSUS doesn’t even have the broadcast rights to?  Where does that make sense.  Show me where!

It probably makes as much sense as not airing a hockey game next Tuesday so they can rebroadcast “Wildcats” for a 70th time.  Sometimes, VERSUS, you make it very hard for me to defend you.

5 Things to Expect… from Lindsay Soto on VERSUS Tonight


Use the body on this one...

Use the body on this one...

... with the face on this one.

... with the face on this one.


Let the great experiment begin!  VERSUS’ new alternate hockey reporter Lindsay Soto makes her debut tonight working with Joe Beninati and Eddie Olczyk on the Chicago-Minnesota game.  We’ve written about Ms. Soto before, and thought this would be a perfect chance to debut a segment called “5 Things”, where we take a look at something exciting in upcoming NHL games, and use it as an excuse to make dick jokes.  Anyway, here’s our first list, post-jumperton.
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Why is VERSUS Afraid of Sean Avery?

We all know that VERSUS has had it rough as the carrier of the National Hockey League.  Much of the criticism is unwarranted.  This might be one such case. 

There were complaints all week as to why none of Sean Avery’s return to the New York area has been televised.  We can understand them not showing the game against the Devils, as it was on a Wednesday.  But to not show him against his old team, the Rangers, on a VERSUS gamenight (Monday)?

Well, the truth is, the Stars profile has dipped on National TV the past few years.  Coming out of the lockout season, the Stars were on TV a count of seven times, one below the NHL-limit.  Look how it has dipped after the jump.

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