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NBC Sports Network fills NHL void with Michael Phelps, Summer Olympics

Greg Wyshynski
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NBC Sports Network had a bunch of momentum heading into its coverage of the 2012-13 NHL season, having recorded record ratings during the London Olympics. The gold-medal match in women's soccer, for example, was the highest-rated event in the network's history, topping six Stanley Cup Final games.

Alas, that momentum was halted when the NHL decided to lock out its players, with nine NBCSN games already postponed/canceled through Oct. 24.

Rather than showing "Rocky IV" again (and again and again, seemingly), NBCSN has decided to fill its NHL void with … the Olympics.

The "Return To London" series of prime-time programs that will review Team USA's triumphs from the London Olympics and Paralympics. The series will run from Monday, Oct. 15 through Thursday, Oct. 25 in 7-11 p.m. ET blocks. Among the highlights, via NBC:

Return to London will highlight many of Team USA's most engaging gold medal matches, games and races from NBCUniversal's epic coverage of the London Olympics. Programs will be introduced by NBC commentators Bob Costas (swimming, diving and gymnastics), Al Michaels (track and field and basketball), Dan Patrick (women's beach volleyball and water polo) and Liam McHugh (women's soccer). Additionally, the coverage will include a number of post event interviews, and also showcases Bob Costas' in-depth interview with Michael Phelps.

Highlights of "Return to London" include Michael Phelps' record-breaking 22 Olympic medals, and his retirement as the most decorated Olympian of all time; Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings third consecutive goal medal in beach volleyball; USA woman's gymnastics, 'The Fab Five,' as they took the USA's first gold medal since 1996, and all-around gold medal winner Gabby Douglas; Ryan Lochte's gold medal performance in the 400 individual medley; Team USA basketball's gold medal and semifinal games; Team USA women's soccer gold medal win against Japan — redemption for their 2011 World Cup loss —  and semifinal match against Canada; Allyson Felix winning the 200m gold in track and field after winning silver in Athens and Beijing; Paralympic swimmers Jessica Long, a world record-holder in 13 Paralympic events, and Lieutenant Bradley Snyder who won a gold medal on the 1-year anniversary of the incident that left him blind while serving in Afghanistan.

Coming up, the full schedule of "Return To London" coverage …

NBC Sports Network's Return to London schedule through October 25

(All times ET, subject to change)

Monday, October 15 — 7-11 p.m. ET
Women's Gymnastics All-Around, Women's Gymnastics Team Competition

Tuesday, October 16 — 7-11 p.m. ET
Men's Swimming, Women's Swimming

Thursday, October 18 — 7-11 p.m. ET
Team USA Men's Basketball Preliminary Round vs. Lithuania
Team USA Men's Basketball Quarterfinal vs. Australia

Monday, October 22 — 7-11 p.m. ET
Men's and Women's Diving, Women's Beach Volleyball, Women's Water Polo

Tuesday, October 23 — 5:30 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET
Team USA Women's Soccer Gold Medal Match vs. Japan
Team USA Women's Soccer Semifinal Match vs. Canada

Wednesday, October 24 — 7-8:30 p.m. ET
2012 Paralympic Games Special

Thursday, October 25 — 7:30-11:30 p.m. ET
Team USA Men's Basketball Semifinal Game vs. Argentina
Team USA Men's Basketball Gold Medal Game vs. Spain

So there's a short-term solution for a lack of NHL hockey. Please recall that NBCSN is also beefing up its NCAA hockey coverage this season, too.

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