nhlnbclogoThe NHL is slowly picking up steam as a national sport once again thanks to a number of factors.  The devotion of NBC to the sport is more established than the brief seconds of airtime it receives on NFL Network ESPN, a number of new stars are playing the game (if they can stay healthy), several marquee teams have won titles in recent years (Wings, Pens, Blackhawks, Bruins), and there have been compelling playoff series.  According to the NHL, their ratings are up 84% in the last four years.  Earlier this year, Gary Bettman and the NHL chose to stick with NBC and Versus in signing a new massive 10 year extension.  Their announcer pairings for the upcoming season were recently released and it looks strikingly similar to years past.  Here’s the details from NBC’s press release at Fang’s Bites

All GAMES ON NBC (Thanksgiving Friday, Winter Classic, Sunday ‘NHL Game of the Week’)
Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick (play-by-play), Eddie Olczyk (analyst) and Pierre McGuire (Inside the Glass analyst)

SUNDAYS ON VERSUS (Starting in January)
Dave Strader (play-by-play) and Brian Engblom (Inside the Glass analyst)

Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick (play-by-play) and Pierre McGuire (Inside the Glass analyst)

Dave Strader (play-by-play) and Brian Engblom (Inside the Glass analyst)

Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick (play-by-play), Eddie Olczyk (analyst) and Pierre McGuire (Inside the Glass analyst)


Liam McHugh, Mike Milbury and Keith Jones

NHL Overtime on VERSUS
Bill Patrick and Jeremy Roenick (plus rotating personalities)

‘NHL Game of the Week’ Intermissions on NBC
Liam McHugh and Mike Milbury

The two top play by play men, Doc Emrick and Dave Strader, are now calling games full-time for NBC/VS instead of splitting time between national and local responsibilities.  I like most of NBC’s on-air talent, although Mike Milbury was rather insufferable during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  Pierre McGuire certainly has his haters too, but he doesn’t grate me in the same way that he does more passionate hockey fans.  NBC could really benefit from a fresh personality just out of the game that can add more perspective (Van Gundy, Gruden, and more recently Urban Meyer quickly come to mind as analysts that have made that transition successfully).  Doc Emrick is obviously one of the best announcers in the biz, as evidenced by his recent Sports Emmy win for play by play, so having him call three games a week is a definite plus.

Versus is also adding a ton of games, up to 100 total in the regular season.  Also, the networks will have coverage of every Stanley Cup Playoffs game for the first time.  With all the original programming Versus seems to be adding, one would think they would dip into the NHL well once again to start supporting their flagship sport.  It doesn’t seem possible, but the NHL preseason is already underway.

[Fang’s Bites]

About Matt Yoder

Award winning sportswriter at The Comeback and Awful Announcing. The biggest cat in the whole wide world.