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STAMFORD, Conn. - VERSUS, the national cable television home of the NHL, today announced that the network will employ its unique high-definition rail camera (Rail Cam) during their coverage of the 2007 NHL All-Star celebration. Rail Cam will be used extensively during VERSUS' coverage of the NHL YoungStars and Dodge Nitro/SuperSkills competition on Tuesday, January 23 at 7:30 p.m. ET as well as on Wednesday, January 24 at 8 p.m. ET when the best of the Eastern and Western Conferences clash at the American Airlines Center in Dallas for the 55th annual NHL All-Star Game.

Rail Cam offers viewers a unique perspective of the game’s best, giving fans a close-up look at stars like Sidney Crosby of the Penguins, Joe Thornton of the Sharks and Brendan Shanahan of the New York Rangers. The camera runs on a small rail system situated just above the glass and will be used during live-action play and replay sequences.

“We were very pleased with the reaction to our trial telecast, and we are proud to offer Rail Cam for the 2007 NHL All-Star celebration," said Marty Ehrlich, Vice President of Production and Executive Producer for VERSUS. “The camera brings viewers closer than ever to their favorite All-Stars, while providing an insider’s look at the speed and strategy of the game. We could not have accomplished this telecast enhancement without the help of the NHL, the Dallas Stars and the dedicated operations staff at the American Airlines Center.”

“The 2007 All-Star celebration is a terrific showcase for Rail Cam as it will enhance the television viewing experience for our fans,” said Adam Acone, Vice President of Broadcasting and Programming for the NHL. “The speed and fluidity of the technology coupled with the location of the camera will provide viewers with the sensation that they are skating with the best players in the world.”

Rail Cam debuted during the November 20 VERSUS telecast in which Dallas defeated Colorado 5-4. Although other hockey telecasts have experimented with Rail Cam, VERSUS is the first network to use the camera extensively in a nationally (U.S.) televised NHL game. November’s trial run also marked the first time Rail Cam was used in native high-definition.

VERSUS analysts Mike “Doc” Emrick and Eddie Olczyk will be joined in the booth by 15-time All-Star Mark Messier, who won six Stanley Cups with the Edmonton Oilers and New York Rangers. Reporters Christine Simpson and Bob Harwood will provide rink-side updates for the All-Star telecast.

Viewers can go to VERSUS.com to find news and videos about all the action happening at the 2007 NHL All-Star celebration. The site will feature daily news and notes from press conferences taking place on-site in Dallas, web exclusive video including interviews with YoungStars, the “NHL All-Star Nightly Review” from VERSUS on-air talent, daily video clips, celebrity interviews and photo galleries.
 

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Versus deploys Rail Cam to capture All-Star action

Evan Grossman | NHL.com Staff Writer
Jan 19, 2007, 10:48 AM EST


All-Star fever is spreading and it appears even the television booth isn’t immune from catching the buzz surrounding the 55th NHL All-Star Game (Jan. 24, 8 p.m. ET, Versus, CBC, RDS, NHL Radio). When Versus televises both nights of star-studded coverage from Dallas, they’ll unfurl not only some of the biggest names in hockey broadcasting, but the network will also bring viewers closer than ever before to the greatest showcase of hockey skill on the planet.

The Rail Cam, which is as new to the NHL as young players like Evgeni Malkin and Anze Kopitar, will be rolled out for both the YoungStars Game Tuesday and the varsity All-Star Game on Wednesday. The new technology, which saw only limited use in the first half of the season on "The V", will be in full effect next week in Dallas.

The high-definition camera, mounted on a rail on top of the glass on one side of the rink, has the ability to run alongside play and give viewers a unique angle of the action. It has been used in regular-season action, but for some reason, running alongside a line that will have Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin playing together for the first time, seems like the perfect place for it.

The four-on-four YoungStars Game Tuesday night, part of the Skills Competition undercard, also seems like a perfect place to deploy the Rail Cam because it has always been a game with plenty of up-and-down skating and an accent on offense.

“It is a game that Rail Cam will serve very well because it is four aside and it goes back and forth really well,” said Versus play-by-play man for the entire two nights of festivities, Mike "Doc" Emrick.

This year’s All Star Game has built up plenty of buzz with all the big-name youngsters taking part this time around. But there will also be the usual crop of talented veterans involved, such as Martin Brodeur and 37-year-olds Joe Sakic and Brendan Shanahan, who were both named captains of their respective teams. Shanahan will turn 38 the night of the Skills Competition.

There is also an added level of excitement because of the competitive nature that was beginning to take shape in the last ASG in 2004.

“I’m looking forward to it for a couple of reasons,” Bill Clement, The V’s studio host and an All-Star in 1976 and 1978, said. “Number one, we haven’t had one since 2004, so we’re overdue. But the second thing is this is the first All-Star Game we’ve had with the players really having a vested interest in the growth of the sport and I expect it to be more competitive than any other All-Star Game. In 2004, the players realized that All-Star Games prior to that had been nothing more than an Ice Capades event with 12-10 and 13-11 scores. But in 2004, they put their noses to the grindstone and put a product on the ice that was far more representative of what the regular season is like. And I expect that to continue.”

While there may be new faces and a new attitude in Dallas, the MVP of the game, as always, will receive a brand new car. A few years back, Emrick says, Clement dubbed the neutral zone “The Auto Zone,” for that reason.

“I remember in 1984, Don Maloney, who was representing his team from the New York Rangers said, ‘What I’m going to do tonight is wheel through center ice as fast as I can, hope for the puck and shoot for the car,’” Emrick recalled. “That was the prize to the MVP. Well, Don had a goal and three assists and rode away with the car at the end of the night.”

Emrick, one of the finest voices in hockey television broadcasting, will be in the booth Tuesday and Wednesday with color man Eddie Olczyk, who seems as pumped up for the game as anyone.

“It is a celebration of being a top player,” Olczyk said.

With players like Malkin and Kopitar involved in Tuesday night’s game, the YoungStars could give the All Stars a run for their money as far as entertainment and skill go.

“I’ve been down at ice level sitting on the benches at past All-Star Games when the YoungStars Game is on and they play four vs. four, they play four aside,” Clement said. “You want to see fast and you want to see slick and you want to see attack? That’s what it’s all about. There’s an inherent appeal, I think, about the Young Stars game just because of the format. It has a chance to always match the big All-Star Game, the main one.”

The YoungStars Game is also the first real chance many of the younger players will have on a nationally televised stage, without the unbalanced schedule prohibiting people on either coast from seeing them spin their magic.

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