NBC Sports Network is coming off a very successful, if shortened, 2012-13 season, with the highest-rated Stanley Cup Final on record to cap it off. They're also coming off a season in which they saw ratings grow by continuing to super-serve fans with a new concept, known as Wednesday Night Rivalry. The network will build out even further from that this upcoming season.
The network will debut NHL Rivals on Oct. 9 at 10:30 p.m. ET. It'll air after the network's broadcast of the Buffalo-Tampa Bay matchup, and then re-air on Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. ET. Basically, the episode that week will be centered around the Wednesday Night Rivalry matchup set to air. The opening episode will center around the rivalry between the Blackhawks and Blues prior to their showdown on NBCSN Oct. 10.
That very night, NBCSN will also debut NHL Top 10, which is more or less what it sounds like. It will show you all of the "bests" in hockey, including shows like "top goal-scorers" and "top U.S. born players." It also promises to show more non-traditional subjects, like "toughest places to play" and Olympic moments.
Much of the legwork and interviews for the shows were done by Pierre McGuire and Sports Illustrated hockey writer Michael Farber in Newark, N.J. at the league's media tour. The shows will not feature a host, but a narrator. NBC Sports Executive Producer Sam Flood said "the players will be the storytellers" during the network's NHL conference call on Thursday.
The premiere of NHL Rivals (and subsequent re-airs on Wednesdays) also balances out NBCSN's cancellation of The Crossover. The network will add Rivals to the two-hour block from 5-7 p.m. ET that precedes hockey coverage on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.