It should come as no surprise that NBC will bring a lot of hockey talent to Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympics. NBC is, after all, the home of the NHL in the United States, and will be televising every game of the tournament across NBC, NBCSN, MSNBC and USA. But, as NBC Sports will announce today, they did stretch outside their typical talent pool to cover both the men's and women's tourneys.
As far as play-by-play goes, it'll be no surprise. Emmy-Award winner Mike "Doc" Emrick will be in Sochi to call his seventh Olympics (including two summer water polo assignments), and third men's hockey Gold Medal match. He'll be joined by Dave Strader and Kenny Albert, who have both contributed to NBC's Olympic hockey telecasts in the past. In Albert's case, it will mean he's called games in all four major leagues (NHL, NBA, MLB and NFL) as well as the Olympics within the span of one year between local and national assignments.
The men's analysts will be familiar faces. Eddie Olczyk, Pierre McGuire and Brian Engblom have all covered hockey for NBC for quite some time now. Olczyk and McGuire will head to their third Winter Olympics each (not counting McGuire's summer water polo reporting duties). Engblom will make his Olympic debut.
For the women's tournament, NBC is bringing analysts AJ Mleckzo and Natalie Darwitz, who both played on past U.S. Olympic teams, Mleckzo having won a Gold Medal in competition herslef. Mleckzo, who will primarily call games, and Darwitz, who will usually serve as a studio analyst, make their NBC hockey debuts on Friday, when they'll call a U.S.-Canada pre-tournament showdown with Strader.
The studio team will, aside from Darwitz, feature NBC's typical hockey studio gang of Liam McHugh, Keith Jones, Mike Milbury and Jeremy Roenick. However, Kathryn Tappen of NHL Network will get her first Olympic assignment as a studio host for hockey. Tappen typically hosts NHL Net's flagship show, NHL Tonight.
Overall, it's an impressive crew NBC sends over for hockey. They're sending more hockey folks over than ever before, and more specifically, more women than they've sent over for hockey before.