A new tradition begins this year as NBC Sports drops the puck on its NHL coverage earlier than ever with the inaugural 2011 NHL Thanksgiving Showdown on Friday at 1 p.m. ET between the defending Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins and the Detroit Red Wings.
This will mark the earliest NHL regular-season broadcast on network television in more than 20 years and the only time these two teams will meet during the regular season. The Friday-after-Thanksgiving matinee is a local Bruins tradition that began in 1990.
"The NHL and NBC have a great partnership and we are always looking for new events to help showcase this sport," said Sam Flood, Executive Producer for NBC Sports and VERSUS. "As a Boston native, I'm excited to take what has turned into a great local tradition -- a Bruins game on the Friday after Thanksgiving – and introduce it to national audience by airing it on NBC, and simultaneously starting our broadcast coverage earlier than ever."
In an effort to provide an even better viewing experience for fans, the inaugural NHL Thanksgiving Showdown will feature a microphone on one of the referees (Kelly Sutherland) to capture on-ice audio for the first time in a regular-season game on NBC.
The team of Mike "Doc" Emrick (play-by-play), Eddie Olczyk (analyst) and Pierre McGuire ("Inside the Glass" analyst) will call the action in Boston. NBC will surround its game coverage with pre-game, intermission and post-game reports live from the arena with studio host Liam McHugh and analyst Mike Milbury.
"It's a combination of a terrific present and a glorious past," Emrick said. "The Bruins are the defending Stanley Cup champions, and they just ran the table in a five-game homestand for the first time in 25 years. Detroit started the season winning the first five, and put together another streak of four straight wins. The styles contrast. These are the two oldest U.S.-based NHL franchises and two of the most prominent U.S. franchises in winning Stanley Cups. They have been playing each other for 85 years."
"This game pits two original six teams who have lifted the Cup recently," McGuire said. "Both teams have to show urgency for points and because of that need, this has the makings of an early season playoff game."
Other notes of interest about this game:
* The NHL Thanksgiving Showdown is the first product of the League's new 10-year partnership with NBC Sports Group
* Nov. 25 is the earliest an NHL regular season game has been broadcast on network television in more than 20 years.
* The Showdown will benefit from strong holiday lead-in programming on NBC, including the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, which will feature a float promoting the Showdown. The float, a first for the NHL, will feature NHL notables along with Grammy-winning artist and star of NBC's "The Voice," Cee Lo Green.