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The NHL Kings are "trying to find a way" for longtime TV announcer Bob Miller to call a potential Stanley Cup-clinching game, according to Elliott & Mitchell of the L.A. TIMES. NBC's broadcast deal prevents a team's local broadcaster from televising a Stanley Cup Final game live, so Miller and analyst Jim Fox "will record the game, which will be available at a later date for Kings fans to listen to." This comes in response to "an outcry from Kings fans online who wanted to hear the legendary announcer count down the seconds should the Kings win the Cup." Kings VP/Broadcasting & Communications Mike Altieri said that the club's "options are limited because the NHL owns the broadcast rights to Stanley Cup Final games." He added that Miller, out of "respect for radio play-by-play announcer Nick Nickson, would not ask Nickson to step aside at that moment." Nor will the Kings "ask Nickson to yield the microphone." Elliott & Mitchell note that would "probably mean a recording that would be available for fans to hear on the team's website" (L.A. TIMES, 6/1).
DOC'S ORDERS: In N.Y., Richard Sandomir writes NBC announcer Mike Emrick's "precise, exhilarating, loud and exhausting play-by-play hockey calls are memorable for their accuracy, inventiveness, honest emotion, fluidity and speed." Emrick has an "all-star team of extremely active verbs." Sandomir: "Pucks careen and carom. They squirt, squib, squirrel and skitter. They are hacked and whacked, shoveled and feathered, paddled and rattled, ladled and lobbed." In Game Six of the Devils-Rangers Eastern Conference Finals, Emrick "unfurled 41 action elements in 1 minute 47 seconds." Sandomir writes, "Sounding authoritative and nearly breathless for two minutes sounds difficult." However, Emrick claims that "it is not" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/1).
TESTY TORTORELLA: In N.Y., Bob Raissman notes NHL Rangers coach John Tortorella granted "extended interviews to two local sports-talk radio stations" Wednesday, and all WFAN-AM's Mike Francesa and WEPN-FM's Michael Kay and Don LaGreca "had to do was mention critics of the Rangers shot-blocking style to get him to respond indignantly, trashing some of the reporters covering the Rangers." Tortorella called the reporters "'idiots' unable to understand the game." He said that those "critical of the Rangers' reliance on defense are know-nothings who 'disprespect our players.'" Raissman writes, "The heat didn't come from his interviewers." They were "non-confrontational" and neither Francesa nor Kay and LaGreca "challenged any of the aspersions Tortorella cast on the reporters." It was clear Tortorella "had a message to deliver." Meanwhile, Raissman sarcastically writes it was "just a coincidence" the interviews took place the same day the Devils played Game One of the Stanley Cup Final (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 6/1).
WISHFUL THINKING: In N.Y., Daniel O'Leary notes WABC-TV "reported that the New York Islanders -- not the New Jersey Devils -- were taking on the Los Angeles Kings for Lord Stanley's chalice." This was during "Thursday's broadcast, AFTER Game 1 had already happened" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 6/1).
“Inside the Cup,” the new NHL Original Productions documentary debuting Sunday, may not bring the total access of “24/7: Road to the Winter Classic,” but the producers promise to bring viewers closer to postseason action than ever before. “For the Stanley Cup Playoffs, this is the new frontier,” said NHL Network VP/Programming Bob Chesterman. The program debuts Sunday at 8:00pm ET on NHL Network in the U.S. and the CBC in Canada. With intense detail, “Inside the Cup” covers each playoff series leading to the Kings and Devils reaching the Stanley Cup Final. Unlike “24/7,” with only two competitors and months of planning in advance, the producers of “Inside the Cup” had to document eight series in the first round and understood they would not be able to film locker room strategy sessions for such important games. However, they did place microphones where they have never been before in the Stanley Cup Playoffs -- including on players for games -- and compiled countless hours of behind-the-scenes footage. “The fan will see this as very unique for this time of the season,” said Chesterman. “You get the intensity, you get the big moments. There are also some lighthearted scenes and some interesting exchanges with the referees.” NHL Original Productions is the newly-created arm of the NHL, in collaboration with former HBO Sports President Ross Greenburg. “Inside the Cup,” narrated by actor Josh Charles, is an effort to deepen fan engagement during the playoffs, even if their team is not in the Stanley Cup Final.
Rogers Sportsnet has added the rights to HBO's "24/7" Maple Leafs-Red Wings series "to its stable this season," according to Bruce Dowbiggin of the GLOBE & MAIL. While the series is "not a huge ratings grabber, '24/7' is a prestigious product for Sportsnet to wrest away from TSN." The "major question for '24/7' this season will be what happens if the coming collective agreement talks" between the NHL and the NHLPA cancel part of the '12-13 season (GLOBE & MAIL, 6/1). Rogers plans to "air the installments on Citytv and Sportsnet next season" (CP, 5/31).
NBC Thursday announced that former NFLer Hines Ward will become an analyst for the NBC Sports Group's NFL, college football and studio programming. This will include appearances on the flagship network's "Football Night In America" studio show and on NBC Sports Network programming (NBC). USA TODAY’s Michael Hiestand notes the move comes after NBC added Ward “as a guest analyst on its Super Bowl coverage” this past year. However, NBC Sports Exec Producer Sam Flood said that Ward “wasn’t a shoo-in when he arrived for the show.” Flood: “We hadn’t decided. What happened was we wanted to see how hard he wanted to work at the Friday and Saturday meetings.” After the show, Flood “saw no need to audition.” Flood: “When you see someone under live fire at the Super Bowl, you know they can handle the job.” Flood said Ward will be on site with host Bob Costas for the NFL’s Week 1 Steelers-Broncos game and “also at the Week 3 Steelers-Baltimore Ravens game.” In addition, he will “do twice-weekly appearances” on NBC Sports Network’s “Sports Talk” weekday show. Hiestand notes with the network recently signing ESPN's Michelle Beadle, Ward “brings celebrity to a fledgling channel that needs more big names to play in the big leagues” (USA TODAY, 6/1). Flood said that it will “be intriguing to have Ward in the studio” with former NFLer Rodney Harrison, a safety, to “break down the receiver-defensive back matchup” (NYTIMES.com, 5/31). Ward said that he “will be tough but fair with his analysis.” Ward: “If I see a player not playing particularly well and if I say he isn’t playing well, I am not bashing him. I am doing my job. I hope guys aren’t going to get offended by what I say. I am not out to be malicious” (PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 6/1).
TAYLOR MADE: In Miami, Barry Jackson cited sources as saying that ESPN “plans to hire Jason Taylor as an analyst on assorted studio shows.” He will appear on “NFL Live,” “NFL 32” and “SportsCenter” (MIAMIHERALD.com, 5/31).
NBC’s Bob Costas Thursday said the net will discuss the suspension of I’ll Have Another trainer Doug O’Neill in the pre-race coverage prior to the Belmont Stakes on June 9 as the horse attempts to win the Triple Crown. O’Neill has been suspended for 45 days by California racing officials and fined $15,000 for giving one of his horses an illegal performance-enhancing mixture. Costas noted pre-race coverage will appear on both NBC and NBC Sports Network and said, “We will hit this issue hard, including with direct interviews … with O’Neill.” One of the interviews will air earlier in the week, while Costas will conduct the second interview the day of the race. But he added, “You have to be careful even though there’s an issue here. Let’s say I’ll Have Another wins the Triple Crown, and there’s O’Neill standing there. … Would you ask Richard Nixon about Watergate while he was descending the steps of the church after one of his daughter's wedding?” Costas: “If we’ve addressed all of these issues prior to, then I think it can be confined to a single question, and I won’t be afraid to ask it” (“The Jim Rome Show,” 5/31).
A documentary on the life of Pro Football HOFer Earl Campbell will “begin shooting in a few weeks and will air [in] December,” according to David Barron of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. Former HBO Sports President Ross Greenburg “will produce the film, in association with NFL Films and NBC Sports Group, and it likely will air on NBC Sports Network.” It will cover all stages of Campbell’s football career “with an emphasis on Campbell’s rehab in the wake of knee replacement surgery.” Greenburg “expressed interest in doing a film on Campbell when he left HBO Sports last year.” His comments “caught the eye of Christian Campbell, Earl’s older son, and the parties came to an agreement involving NFL Films and NBC.” Christian Campbell said, “I hope people will see from the film that Earl Campbell went through a rough time but has worked like hell to get back on track” (CHRON.com, 6/1).
NBC finished with a 1.8 final Nielsen rating and 2.9 million viewers for the Kings’ 2-1 OT win over the Devils Wednesday night, marking the lowest-rated NHL Stanley Cup Final opener since the league returned the first game to broadcast TV in ’09. The game is down 33% and 36%, respectively, from a 2.7 rating and 4.6 million viewers for the Bruins-Canucks opener last year, which was the most-viewed Stanley Cup Final opener in 12 years.
The chart below lists final Nielsen ratings from recent sports telecasts. All ratings listed are U.S. ratings. Figures for ABC’s telecast of the NASCAR Nationwide Series History 300 last Saturday were not available at presstime.
TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RAT.VIEWERS (000) NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals:
Celtics-76ers: Game Seven5/26ABC7:59-10:46pm4.57,012
NASCAR Sprint Cup: Coca-Cola 6005/27Fox6:24-10:17pm4.47,405 Izod IndyCar Series: Indianapolis 5005/27ABC12:00-3:45pm4.36,800 MLB: (regional)5/26Fox7:12-10:11pm1.72,615 PGA Tour: Crowne Plaza Invitational:
PGA Tour: Crowne Plaza Invitational:
French Open: First Round5/27NBC12:00-3:00pm0.71,010 Red Bull Signature Series:
Senior PGA Championship: Third Round5/26NBC3:00-6:00pm0.4565 Senior PGA Championship: Final Round5/27NBC3:00-6:00pm0.4624 TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RAT.VIEWERS (000) NBA Western Conference Semifinals:
Thunder-Lakers: Game Five5/21TNT9:43pm-12:29am5.38,149
NBA Western Conference Finals:
Thunder-Spurs: Game One5/27TNT8:32-11:17pm4.87,764
NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals:
Heat-Pacers: Game Six5/24ESPN8:05-10:46pm4.56,892
NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals:
Heat-Pacers: Game Five5/22TNT8:13-10:59pm3.55,503
NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals:
Celtics-76ers: Game Six5/23ESPN8:08-10:42pm3.55,354
NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals:
Celtics-76ers: Game Five5/21TNT7:00-9:43pm2.84,174
NHL Eastern Conference Finals:
Devils-Rangers: Game Six5/25NBCS8:00-10:58pm0.91,605
NHL Eastern Conference Finals:
Devils-Rangers: Game Five5/23NBCS8:00-10:45pm0.91,428
UFC 146 Prelims5/26FX8:00-10:00pm0.81,304 NHL Eastern Conference Finals:
Devils-Rangers: Game Four5/21NBCS8:00-10:45pm0.81,259
In San Diego, Kevin Acee writes Chargers GM A.J. Smith "didn't spend a second considering the possibility" that the team would appear this season on HBO's "Hard Knocks." The Chargers were previously approached to appear on the show in '06, and Smith "vetoed that overture." Smith Thursday had an "entirely playful" response regarding whether the team was approached again for "Hard Knocks" this season. Smith: "We were not contacted, because we are not eligible to be on the show. None of us have our Screen Actors Guild cards" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 6/1).
BEAT OF HIS OWN DRUM: In Milwaukee, Bob Wolfley wrote ESPN’s Jeff Van Gundy “has maintained his engaging broadcasting style." Van Gundy has said that he “doesn’t think at all about how he sounds when he calls a game.” He is “not one to measure how an audience may be responding to his observations or what judgments they are making about him.” Van Gundy also “doesn’t seem to care about what you may think of him as a broadcaster,” and that “appears to be one source of his considerable appeal.” Wolfley: “He has that cold pro coach’s eye that lays bare a player’s weakness or a team’s strength. He cares enough to get peeved about some issues” (JSONLINE.com, 5/31).
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS: BROADCASTING & CABLE's Michael Malone reports Bright House Sports Network "has signed an agreement with the Florida High School Athletic Association to become its official television partner." BHSN will "produce and distribute all FHSAA state quarterfinals, semifinals and final series games for the next three years." The net is "phasing out local college sports in favor of the high school games." BHSN airs "more than 200 regular season high school games throughout the season" (BROADCASTINGCABLE.com, 5/31).
PEOPLE & PERSONALITIES: Charrisa Thompson will make her debut Monday as the new co-host of ESPN's "SportsNation" opposite Colin Cowherd (ESPN)....SiriusXM announced that former college football coach Rick Neuheisel has joined the satellite radio provider as an analyst on its College Sports Nation channel (SiriusXM).