Puck Daddy - NHL

NBC Sports' makeover of VERSUS' NHL coverage will begin dramatically with Monday's broadcast of the New York Rangers at the Detroit Red Wings.

According to a source, Sam Flood, executive producer for NBC Sports and the man that's overseen its Winter Classic broadcasts, will produce Monday night's coverage.

Pierre McGuire will debut as an "inside the glass" (i.e. between the benches) commentator, joining Doc Emrick and Eddie Olczyk in announcing the game.

On Tuesday, VERSUS studio analyst Brian Engblom will be "inside the glass" for the Buffalo Sabres and the Tampa Bay Lightning. Mike Milbury will be inside the studio in place of Engblom.

We've also been told that reports of 29 people getting the ax at VERSUS are "inaccurate," and that any changes to the announcing team can't be confirmed yet.

(UPDATE: As we first reported this morning, play-by-play guy Joe Beninati has been let go from VERSUS' NHL coverage. This led to speculation that he was going to be off Washington Capitals, broadcasts locally, but that was never the case.)

As the Montreal Gazette reported yesterday, veteran in-game reporter Bob Harwood is out of a regular-season gig with VERSUS. According to our source, Harwood, Lindsay Soto and Charissa Thompson could be utilized during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

So the first significant change for VERSUS under NBC is a shift away from using television talent for in-game interviews to using ex-players and/or coaches to not only engage in those (frequently inane) interviews but to offer ice-level commentary during the game. The "inside the glass" reporter role was an innovation under Flood's watch at NBC.

It's going to be very interesting to see how deep the changes go for VERSUS now that it's in the NBC family; and, of course, how puckheads will react to these changes.

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