Welcome back, hockey folk and people who are just curious about the sport in general and are mere "casual fans". Just kidding, we know you don't exist!
The National Hockey League is back, and will present a 48-game season starting Jan. 19. My personal opinion is that the lockout won't hurt ratings too badly. The NBC Sports Network will probably see some slight ratings drops, just because they have to get people back into the habit of tuning in, but I think NBC should remain at the same levels as previous years. I'm of a mind that not having lower-rated games from October-December on the schedule might even help the networks.
Based on press releases and an NBC conference call yesterday, we present to you a handy little guide to the various networks that cover hockey in both the United States and Canada (NBC, CBC, TSN, NHL Network) for the 2013 season. I hope you'll find it useful.
NBC and NBC Sports Network
Game Coverage: NBC airs games on Sunday afternoons after the opening day Saturday coverage. NBC Sports Network will typically air games on Sunday through Wednesday nights. NBC will air regional coverage of Chicago-Los Angeles (in 55 percent of the country) and Pittsburgh-Philadelphia this Saturday, Jan. 19 at 3 p.m. ET. They will actually air the Chicago-Los Angeles game (and the Kings' banner-raising) until 3:35 p.m. ET and then split the nation up. Both games -- as with all NBC broadcasts -- will be available for free on NBCSports.com. The 14 windows NBC will air hockey in are tied with 1972-75 (also on NBC) as a record for the league on broadcast television. Crazy to think this is the league's eighth season on NBC and the various incarnations of NBCSN.
Talent: NBC's top NHL broadcast team remains Doc Emrick (play-by-play), Eddie Olczyk (color) and Pierre McGuire (inside the glass) while Dave Strader (play-by-play) and Brian Engblom (inside the glass) remain a solid No. 2. Liam McHugh hosts most of the league's studio show, as well as NHL Live, the pre- and post-game show. He is joined, once again, by Mike Milbury and Keith Jones. Bill Patrick hosts the network's late night hockey show, NHL Overtime (Monday-Wednesdays and Fridays) with analyst Jeremy Roenick.
New Tricks: The network's new studio in their state-of-the-art international broadcast center in Stamford, Connecticut will be opened for business on Jan. 19.
Lockout Talk: Flood spoke on Tuesday about how the network would cover the work stoppage. "Our job is not to talk about the lockout itself. Our job is to talk about how it impacted various teams. How the time away from the game has impacted players. The guys that went to Europe, what advantage do they have versus the guys who didn't play in Europe? We are here to watch hockey games, but the lockout's impact on the on-ice product is critical and we have to explain it."
Game Coverage: CBC continues it's slate of games for it's 60th season of babysitting Canada on Saturday nights. They'll start off with a triple-header on Jan. 19, featuring Ottawa-Winnipeg, Toronto-Montreal and Anaheim-Vancouver. Hockey Day in Canada, which is in Lloydminster, Alberta/Saskatchewan this year, brings another triple-header on Feb. 9.
Talent: Jim Hughson (play-by-play), Craig Simpson (color) and Glenn Healy (inside the glass) return as Hockey Night's top team, and they'll likely be live from Toronto most Saturdays. The big change is out west, where HNIC is replacing Mark Lee and Kevin Weekes with Rick Ball (limited to mostly Jets games last season) and Kelly Hrudey (a studio commentator the past few years) for most of the 10 p.m. ET games. Weekes will remain with HNIC in a different role.
Ron MacLean and Don Cherry are back to... let's say entertain us with Coach's Corner. Bob Cole and Gary Galley stick around for Canadiens and Senators games, in Cole's 40th year calling Hockey Night on television. Mark Lee and Greg Millen will call Jets games, while Dean Brown will call select regional broadcasts.