NBC Hopes To Turn Sunday's "Hockey Day In America" Into Annual Tradition
NBC and Versus Sunday will televise "Hockey Day in America," and Chicago "will be the epicenter of what NBC, Versus and the NHL hope will be a new tradition for the sport," according to Ed Sherman of CRAIN'S CHICAGO BUSINESS. NBC and Versus "will devote nine hours of coverage Sunday," including three games. NBC will televise Penguins-Blackhawks nationally at 3:30pm ET, and it is "anchoring its studio coverage at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium Park" in Chicago. Sherman noted the day "will be more than about the NHL," as the "extensive coverage will include features on hockey, ranging from an inner-city program in Washington, D.C., to the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships in Minnesota." NBC Sports Exec Producer Sam Flood, who "got the idea by watching Hockey Day in Canada during last year's Olympics," said that the "goal is to provide compelling content to reach a broad spectrum of fans" (CHICAGOBUSINESS.com, 2/17). MEDIAPOST's David Goetzl noted the coverage begins "with a pre-game, magazine-style show on NBC," followed by a doubleheader on NBC and the Canadiens-Flames Heritage Classic on Versus. Comcast SportsNet New England, Chicago and Philadelphia "will also play a role with their announcers appearing." Goetzl noted McDonald's will sponsor Sunday's coverage, and that NBC's "Today" and "Nightly News" were scheduled to "feature stories about hockey in America this week" (MEDIAPOST.com, 2/16).
LARGER CELEBRATION: USA TODAY's Kevin Allen notes "Hockey Day in America" is "part of USA Hockey's Hockey Weekend Across America, which will include events in 48 states." USA Hockey Exec Dir Dave Ogrean predicted that NBC's coverage "will draw the attention of non-fans and symbolizes how far hockey has come as a sport." The Wild as part of Hockey Weekend Across America "will hold the team's first outdoor practice at the John Rose Oval in Roseville, Minn." Wild VP/Communications & Broadcasting Bill Robertson said that they "expect 2,500 to 3,000 at the free event" (USA TODAY, 2/18).