Sam Flood’s hockey bona fides have proven legitimate many times over. The 1983 Williams College captain, now the executive producer for NBC Sports and NBC Sports Network, has been a driving force behind the NHL’s Winter Classic’s ascent to an anticipated event on the sports calendar (at least during seasons not condensed by a labor battle).
He is almost matter-of-fact in acknowledging his lifelong passion for the game, and that passion is a common thread among NBC’s lead broadcast team, which includes unparalleled play-by-play voice Mike “Doc” Emrick and analysts Ed Olczyk and Pierre McGuire.
“We’re so excited to get back to doing the sport we love so much,’’ said Flood in advance of NBC’s lockout-delayed debut telecast Saturday, which begins with the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings’ banner-raising ceremony at 3 p.m. before giving way in the Boston market to a Penguins-Flyers matchup. “This group are a bunch of total hockey fans. It’s this group’s life, and we’ve been frustrated that we haven’t been able to do what we love.”
Flood’s credibility comes with candor. While NBC and NBC Sports Network, which will air 70 regular-season games between them, dive headlong into the compressed 48-game season (NBC will also have Flyers-Sabres at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, and NBCSN’s coverage will premiere that night with Blackhawks-Coyotes at 10), Flood recognizes that it may take aggrieved fans longer to return from the 113-day lockout, the league’s third since 1994-95.
“We’ll see how the audience responds, and see how, with the pent-up demand for hockey, they come back,’’ he said. “We can’t control that right now. All we can do is cover the games the best we can, and hope the passion for hockey bubbles back to the surface very quickly.
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