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Criticisms of the NHL on Versus are many, but a primary one has been a lack of original hockey-related programming that goes beyond game coverage. So give them credit for trying something a little adventurous this season: a Winter Classic preview show that will air on Dec. 31 and cross over into the New Year on the East Coast.

The details are being finalized, but Versus told us what's on tap: The preview is a 90-minute special beginning at 11 p.m. EST and ending at 12:30 a.m. Hosts are Bill Patrick, Keith Jones and Brian Engblom, appearing at a remote studio inside Fenway Park. It's going to feature Winter Classic content -- video features, interviews, game previews for the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers -- as well as recaps of the NHL season to date.

Oh, but it wouldn't be New Year's Eve without the prerequisite cheese-tastic entertainment: VS reporter Charissa Thompson will be live at the House of Blues for musical performances throughout the night. There's nothing on the Boston House's site for Dec. 31 at the moment, which obviously gives us hope that Def Leppard might be available to desecrate more hardware.

(Although it does offer the danger of Blackhawks superfan Jim Belushi squeezing into a Blues Brothers suit for the night. Just say no, NHL.)

Versus didn't have details on how the broadcast will handle the stroke of midnight on the East Coast. Suggestions: Either slowly dropping Tie Domi down a metal pole while dressed as the New Year's baby or having Milan Lucic(notes) shatter a six-foot-tall bottle of Dom Perignon with a check along the boards, timed to midnight.

Expect to hear more about this on tonight's Pittsburgh Penguins/Philadelphia Flyers broadcast. Versus, offering a New Year's Eve preview of a New Year's Day event on NBC ... ain't synergy grand?

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