The NHL has survived another summer of global warming.
That’s the good news.
The bad news could be that the new face of hockey — or hockey moms — is the current governor of Alaska who has bigger aspirations at this point in her career.
Our favorite sport — behind college football, baseball, and maybe beach volleyball — is gearing up for a big Blackhawks-Red Wings outdoor match scheduled for Wrigley Field on New Year’s Day (linked here) — no goats allowed.
Before, and after, here’s a glace at how the rest of the regular season shapes up (you know, it already started in Europe) (linked here for the NHL.com schedule) before the real business begins in mid-April:
==Versus, the network that’s been home to this sports now for … we’ve lost count … goes with a double-header on Thursday: Toronto at Detroit at 4 p.m. (with Doc Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Bob Harwood), then Boston at Colorado at 7 p.m. (with Joe Beninati, Andy Brickley and Christine Simpson). A “Hockey Central” show starts it at 3:30 p.m. with Bill Patrick, Keith Jones and Brian Engblom.
==Versus’ schedule (linked here) includes 56 regular-season games, the All-Star game, most of the playoffs and the first two Stanley Cup Finals games. Boston, Buffalo, Minnesota, N.Y. Rangers and Pittsburgh are on eight times on the schedule. Detroit, Philadelphia and Washington are on seven times. The Kings and Ducks … put it this way. It’s more of the same — an East Coast-slanted viewing party, with the two Southern California teams invited only if they’re out that way and have nothing else planned. The Ducks are on once: at Buffalo, Feb. 24. The Kings — yeah, right.
There are only three broadcasts on Versus that go 10 p.m. (EST) or later, and that includes the opening night in Colorado telecast. The others are March 30 (Dallas at Phoenix) and April 7 (Colorado at San Jose).
==The new “enhancement” on Versus’ coverage is a “puck-tracking system that will digitally track the puck and allow viewers to follow the play with greater ease when analysts are discussing puck movement and its importance to specific highlights.” Before you scream ” Fox Glowing Puck!” note this will only be used during the “Hockey Central” studio show and during intermissions on highlights.
“It willl not be used during live game play,” the network says clearly in its press release.
==NBC’s schedule (linked here) starts with that Jan. 1 game at Wrigley Field (watch out for fans in the bleachers who throw the pucks back onto the ice if they’re hit up there by the opponents) and then goes nine Sundays from Jan. 18 to April 12. The Kings’ game March 22 at Chicago is one of three regional NBC telecasts that Sunday. The Ducks aren’t on the schedule. Detroit and Pittsburgh have six appearances.
==The non-Stanley Cup champion Ducks (linked here) open the season at San Jose on Thursday (FSN Prime, 7:30 p.m.) with John Ahlers and Brian Heyward. A season preview with Heyward and Bill Macdonald airs Thursday at 7 p.m., and repeats at 10 p.m.
==The Kings (linked here) also open the season at San Jose on Saturday (FSN West, 7 p.m.) with Hall of Famer Bob Miller (go to this link) and Jim Fox starting their 19th season together. This is Miller’s 36th season. Nick Nickson, on the radio, starts his 28th season, with analyst Darryl Evans in his 10th season. The Kings return home Sunday against the Sharks (FSN West, 6 p.m.).
The FSN Prime Ticket season preview show with Fox, Heidi Androl and Patrick O’Neal debuts tonight (10 p.m.) and repeats Wednesday (1:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.), Thursday (10 p.m.), Friday (10 p.m.) and Sunday (5:30 p.m.)