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Up-to-the minute updates and insights from the Red Wings locker room at home and on the road. By Chuck Pleiness of The Macomb Daily.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

NHL Network to carry World Juniors

It's about time. The World Juniors is probably the most important annual hockey tournament for North American fans other than the Stanley Cup playoffs. (Notice I said annual. The Olympics and World Cup of Hockey are obviously bigger.) But television coverage of the event ... at least in the U.S. ... is like going back in time to the 70s.

The NHL Network and USA Hockey reached a three-year television agreement and it's about time. All U.S game and all medal-round games will be broadcast.

What would make this much more exciting would be if other qualifying-round games were televised -- Canada vs. Russia, Sweden vs. Finland. But it's a start.

The reason this tournament is important is because you get to see future NHLers on the biggest stage of their pre-NHL careers. Valtteri Filppula was great for Finland in two of these tournaments. Derek Meech and Dion Phaneuf were a dynamic blue-line duo. Kris Draper's dad told me that it was Kris' performance during the World Juniors that made him believe that Kris was going to be an NHL success. Ovechkin, Crosby, Malkin ... this tournament was a stepping stone for all of them as it was for Gretzky, Hasek and Larionov back in the day.

Here's the USA Hockey press release ...

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- USA Hockey announced today a three-year partnership with the NHL Network that includes unprecedented coverage of the International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship and also coverage of the upcoming Qwest Tour, featuring the 2009-10 U.S. Women’s National Team.

In each of the next three IIHF World Junior Championships, the NHL Network will provide live television coverage of all U.S. games and all games of the medal round, including all quarterfinal and semifinal games, the bronze-medal game and the gold-medal game.

Under the agreement, the NHL Network will also televise four live games of the Qwest Tour. The broadcasts include Team USA’s contests against Canada scheduled for Oct. 16, 2009, in Spokane, Wash.; Oct. 29, 2009, in Denver, Colo.; and Dec. 30, 2009, in St. Paul, Minn. In addition, the NHL Network will televise the final game of the Tour against Finland on Feb. 4, 2010, in Colorado Springs, Colo., just prior to the February 12 start of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.

“We’re extremely pleased to showcase two of our most prominent teams – the U.S. National Junior Team and the U.S. Women’s National Team – on the NHL Network,” said Dave Ogrean, executive director of USA Hockey. “We look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship with the NHL Network.”

“Our association with USA Hockey is another building block in making the NHL Network the Home of Hockey,” said John Shannon, executive in charge of programming and production for the NHL Network. “It's great to be part of covering a truly marquee event like the World Junior Hockey Championship, as well as giving more exposure to the women's program as it prepares for the Vancouver Olympics."


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