Hockey-filled holiday season

IAN BUSBY

, Last Updated: 9:52 AM ET

From the Boxing Day kickoff of the world junior championships to the Winter Classic on New Year's Day, the sports fan gets a giant lump of hockey in his Christmas stocking.

It will be tough to decide where the bigger winter wonderland will be: Saskatchewan or Fenway Park. TV viewers sitting in their warm homes will have to decide which looks colder: Aerial views of the outdoor NHL game, or the frosty air outside the rinks in Regina and Saskatoon from the TSN tracking shots.

One person will be able to tell you which one will be chillier. The one common denominator will be Pierre McGuire, who will be part of both TSN's coverage and NBC's work on the outdoor game.

McGuire, who joins Gord Miller to call world junior games for an eighth consecutive year, will be an "inside-the-glass" analyst for the NHL outing.

The fun gets going on Christmas Day with a world junior preview of the Canadian team that will try to win a sixth gold medal in a row.

Every Canadian game will be on TSN, while a passionate fan can catch every U.S. matchup on the NHL Network. TSN also will have some extra preliminary games.

For a second consecutive year, the junior tournament will be in prime time in Canada, which means ratings will be strong, but part of the tradition for the holiday tourney's appeal was the early morning wakeup for European-hosted events.

The now-annual outdoor game doesn't have as much tradition, but it's becoming a mainstay on the NHL schedule.

It hasn't become stale to a hockey lover such as McGuire.

"This is going to be a ton of fun. It's energy on both sides," McGuire said.

"The only thing missing is Ty Conklin. He's played in every other Winter Classic the NHL has ever run."

When the NHL first played outdoors, the Heritage Classic in Edmonton in November 2003, it marked the debut of having a camera placed on top of the glass, giving a new view of the action.

NBC tried to expand on things last year when it had several minutes of action played from the aerial view. The same thing could happen this year, but getting the proper sightlines at the ball park is a challenge, according to NBC co-ordinator producer Scott Flood.

"The camera baskets are designed for a baseball game, not a hockey game, so we spent a lot of time figuring out what the right angles were and what the right places were to put all of our cameras to make the game shine," Flood said about Fenway Park. "We also shoot this bigger and wider than a normal game because its about the place as much as the game.

"We almost have twice as much equipment as we have for a regular-season NHL game (about 25 cameras)."

After the Winter Classic, the U.S. Olympic team will be announced, which makes for an action-packed New Year's Day.

In the following days, the quest for world junior gold will continue.

The final is Jan. 5.

ian.busby@sunmedia.ca


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