The first two Hockey Day in America... I guess you'd call them ceremonies? Celebrations? Anyway, they were held in Western Conference cities like Chicago and Minnesota. However, it was always likely to come to an eastern city sooner rather than later, so it comes as little surprise that the third annual event will be hosted from New York.
Central Park's Trump Rink (is he going to show up to plug The Apprentice? He's going to show up to plug The Apprentice, isn't he?) will be NBC's home base for the third annual triple header on Sunday, which features an NBC doubleheader, along with a third game (which will be hosted by the New York Rangers) on NBC Sports Network.
It all starts with a half hour pre-game show at Noon ET, which is usually packed with the Hockey Day in Canada-esque tug at the heart/fog the mind-type segments. Liam McHugh will host the show, with analysts Mike Milbury, Keith Jones and Jeremy Roenick, while Michelle Beadle will contribute a feature. Here's what they have planned this year, as per an NBC press release:
Ice Hockey in Harlem
Ice Hockey in Harlem is a non-profit organization for youth that uses the sport of hockey to promote academic achievement, teamwork and character. Their motto is "Education is the Goal" and the organization has served the community for 25 years. The program is only open to those living north of 110th Street in Manhattan and there is a waiting list to enroll each fall. At the core of this non-profit organization are lessons that stick with the kids for life. Themes such as family, commitment, dedication and giving back are passed on to these local area children, which will help in creating a better future, leaders and role models.
Jack Jablonski's Road To Recovery
Jack Jablonski was a promising ice hockey player for Benilde-St. Margaret's high school in suburban Minneapolis. On December 30, 2011, a check from behind during a JV game left him paralyzed from the chest down. That same day, Jablonski's boyhood idol, Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson had surgery to repair torn ligaments in his left knee. Jablonski and Peterson both faced grueling rehabilitation programs and seemingly insurmountable odds. Then something curious happened and they met during the summer. Jablonski naturally was inspired by Peterson and all the hard work he'd done to get back to the Vikings' training camp. What's surprising is that Peterson was deeply inspired by Jablonski as well and used him as motivation during his comeback, which resulted in one of the greatest years ever by a running back. Jablonski has also exceeded expectations, regaining some movement that his doctors never expected.
Skaters streaking down the ice with long, flowing hair trailing behind them has been a common sight at hockey games for decades. Unlike playoff beards, which are widely believed to have been popularized by Islanders teams of the early 1980s, the exact origins of hockey hair have never been adequately explained. Michelle Beadle and Jeremy Roenick will dive back into NHL history and explore the long legacy of Hockey Hair.
A Little Boys Winter Classic
During the NHL lockout this past December, eight-year old Christopher John thought of holding his own Winter Classic. Working with his parents and his teammates on the North Jersey Avalanche, John turned his dream in to a reality. The Avalanche took on the Long Island Royals at Central Park's Lasker Rink on December 23rd. Along the way, John's idea for a game took on greater meaning and served as a fundraiser for victims of Hurricane Sandy. New York Rangers LW Carl Hagelin and D Ryan McDonagh heard about the game and showed up at 8 a.m. to cheer the kids on. To date, the campaign has generated $25,000 for Hurricane Sandy relief.
I made the joke about these being tug at the heart/fog the mind sort of stories, but you really can't go wrong with Jack Jablonski involved. In fact, if the Hockey Hair segment errs on the correct side of goofy, the whole show could be enjoyable.
Meanwhile, here are the broadcast teams NBC will use for Hockey Day in America:
12:30 p.m. ET, Pittsburgh vs. Buffalo
Play by Play: Gord Miller
Inside the Glass: Joe Micheletti
3:30 p.m. ET, Los Angeles vs. Chicago
Play by Play: Mike Emrick
Color: Eddie Olczyk
Inside the Glass: Pierre McGuire
6 p.m. ET, Washington vs. NY Rangers
Play by Play: Dave Strader
Inside the Glass: Brian Engblom