November 09, 2010
As we first reported today, VERSUS is adding a nightly, hour-long hockey show called "NHL Overtime" to its schedule beginning on Monday, Nov. 15.
It'll run Monday through Thursday at 11 p.m. ET to midnight; yes, including nights when they network isn't carrying an NHL game.
The first qustion many of us who watch the NHL on VERSUS asked upon hearing this news: How is this different than "Hockey Central", the network's postgame show on game nights?
According to sources close to the production, "Hockey Central" remains focused on game highlights and recaps with little room for discussion or analysis; "NHL Overtime" seems geared more towards "talkin' hockey," with debate over big issues, "hot stove" reports on news and more in-depth coverage of that night's game. Which is to say not a traditional highlights show like "Hockey Central" or "NHL On The Fly" on NHL Network; hopefully that's how the show develops.
Another big question: On-air talent. We've learned that some of the ex-NHLers that have been featured as guest commentators on "Hockey Central" -- your ex-Detroit Red Wings forward Darren McCarty(notes), your former Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Aaron Ward(notes), your ex-New Jersey Devils defenseman Ken Daneyko -- are the types of analysts you can expect to see on "NHL Overtime" to start. But this will be a place for different faces than the ones seen on "Hockey Central" as well. (Not sure if any refugees from "The Daily Line," the sports talk show this hockey program replaces, will migrate over to it.)
Does this mean opportunities for VERSUS.com writers to get involved? Perhaps. Does this mean opportunities for bloggers and alt-media to get involved? We've been told that's a possibility.
(Full Disclosure: I've appeared on VERSUS dozens of times as a guest on "The Daily Line," but they are unpaid and uncompensated appearances, and I considered them no different than a random radio interview. I've not had any discussions about a relationship with the new show.)
Sources say "NHL Overtime" is a "desk" show rather than the kind of informal chat we've seen on "The Daily Line" and "Best Damn Sports Show." Might have been a nice change from the norm, but that's judging sight unseen.
All indications are it's a work in progress, but it's also expected to have a place in the lineup through the season. It's the kind of additional programming we've demanded from VERSUS over the years; it'll be interesting to see what they cook up. And for VERSUS, it's an opportunity to commit time and resources in covering the NHL that other suitors for the League's TV rights may not match; you know, like ones having already cancelled NHL2Night six years ago ...