NBC Sports Chief Calls NHL Team Rivalries 'Hatred on Ice'
TORONTO – The National Hockey League has long featured bitter team rivalries to get the blood levels up among TV viewers.
But NBC Sports and NBC Sports Network executive producer Sam Flood on Thursday coined a new term for historic rivalry games like the New York Rangers against New York Islanders, and the original six matchup between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens.
"It's hatred on ice," Flood told a media conference call to preview the upcoming 2013-14 NHL season.
The NBC Sports exec was raising the curtain on 24 games this season to feature as part of the network's Wednesday Night Rivalry lineup, now in its second season. The coverage will start with the nasty rivalry between the Buffalo Sabres and Detroit Red Wings on the Oct. 2 game telecast.
NBC Sports Network aired 14 Wednesday Night Rivalry games last season that consistently numbered among the highest-rated NHL telecasts for the U.S. sports cable channel.
New this season are half-hour documentary-style shows to preview the Wednesday night grudge matches and the contempt between opposing players that dates back to the league's original six era. The companion preview shows will feature interviews with NHL players as they convey inside back-stories about fiercely fought games.
"It will be a wonderful way to celebrate the sport of hockey and the rivalry between these teams," Flood said.
NBC Sports Network will also tie-in, where possible, its season-long NHL game coverage with broadcasts of the hockey competition at the upcoming Sochi Winter Olympics, which is also on NBC.
Flood said commentators will remind NBC Sports Network viewers which players are NHL teammates set to face off on opposing national teams at the Winter Olympics.
"It's a real thread that we will take throughout the season," he added.