I don't keep close enough eye on the NHL to know for sure, but this renewal seems to change nothing about the existing situation between the NHL and NBC. It implies split of Stanley Cup Finals games with Versus. Perhaps someone with more NHL knowledge than I have will spot differences.
via press release:
NHL & NBC ANNOUNCE MULTIYEAR EXTENSION
Innovations Such as Winter Classic, Inside the Glass and Ratings Milestones Highlight Partnership
NEW YORK – July 15, 2009 – The National Hockey League and NBC Sports today announced an extension through the 2010-11 season of their successful revenue-sharing partnership -- one that has achieved viewership milestones, programming and production innovations, awards and critical acclaim. The joint announcement was made by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Ken Schanzer, President, NBC Sports.
"The NHL/NBC partnership has been terrific. Our association has led to such technical innovations as the 'Inside the Glass' reporting and to such programming advancements as the extremely popular Winter Classic," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. "Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final was broadcast television's most-watched hockey game in 36 years, which makes clear the NHL and NBC are building an audience, are building momentum and are perfectly positioned to continue growing the game."
Schanzer said: "We're thrilled to be able to continue our relationship with the NHL and build on all the positive momentum on and off the ice. Together, we have attained viewership milestones not seen in more than three decades. And the Winter Classic, in just two years, has become one of the highlights of the sports calendar. We strongly believe this is a league that is poised for continued growth."
RECORD VIEWERSHIP: NBC Sports has achieved a number of ratings milestones including broadcasting the most-watched regular season game in 34 years (2009 Winter Classic) and the most-viewed NHL game overall in 36 years (Game 7 of the 2009 Stanley Cup Final).
INNOVATIVE PRODUCTION: NBC Sports and the NHL have introduced many innovations to help grow the game, including the "Inside the Glass" analyst position, which has revolutionized the way hockey is covered and of which USA Today said "is as close to the action as TV gets."
AWARDS: NBC Sports received a Sports Emmy Award for its promotion of the 2009 Winter Classic and the inaugural event garnered a Sports Business Journal Sport Business Award as Event of the Year.
ACCOLADES: NBC's NHL production has received critical acclaim, earning praise for innovations such as "Inside the Glass," a reporter position between the teams' benches first introduced by NBC hockey producer Sam Flood. The Toronto Star called "Inside the Glass" invaluable. ESPN.com said of NBC's hockey coverage, "the NHL has never looked or sounded better in its free, on-the-air history." The Hockey News called "Inside the Glass," "the biggest innovation to hit televised hockey in recent years." " Hockey has found a network that will let the sport be the sport," said the San Jose Mercury News.
NBC Sports' 2010 NHL coverage begins on New Year's Day with the third annual NHL Winter Classic.
NBC Sports will also continue to broadcast games throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs and up to five Stanley Cup Final games.
NHL & NBC: The successful partnership, which was announced in May 2004, launched in January 2006 and previously extended in 2007 and 2008, has been highlighted by innovations, awards and ratings milestones. NBC Sports' NHL coverage is produced by Sam Flood, the originator of the Inside the Glass position. Emmy award nominee "Doc" Emrick, Eddie Olczyk (analyst), Pierre McGuire (Inside the Glass analyst) and Mike Milbury comprise NBC's NHL broadcast team.