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Hockey Shoalts: Hockey Night returns with familiar faces, but whole new vibe

From left, broadcasters George Stroumboulopoulos, Jeff Marek, Daren Millard, Ron MacLean, Don Cherry and Scott Moore, President Sportsnet & NHL Properties Rogers are seen during an announcement by Rogers as they unveiled their broadcast team for the upcoming NHL Season in Toronto, Ontario March 10/2014.

Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

When Hockey Night In Canada begins under its new master, Rogers Communications Inc., on Wednesday for opening night in the NHL and then settles into its usual Saturday night slot, the venerable show will have a radical new look from its CBC days even if it remains on the People's Network for now.

What follows are some of the major changes:

Rogers kept Toronto filmmaker Tim Thompson, who did the popular musical montages that opened the Hockey Night shows but viewers will see fewer of his hockey highlights set to music. While there will still be ones similar to the CBC versions, insiders say you should expect to see lots more that have a "video-game" look.

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The "video-game" look means far more animation used with music in the show openings. Rogers says it has 10 different custom animation openings, 250 player animations and more than 1,000 other animations that will be used in telling stories (mostly about the players) and for analysis. There will be a sleek, ultra-modern look to the show, starting with the 11,000-square-foot studio that was unveiled this week. It has nine separate sets and 52 monitors, which promises a free-wheeling studio show.

Indeed, Rogers executives took pains to say the days of four or five broadcasters sitting around a desk talking during breaks in the action are over. There will still be as many as five people discussing a topic but only two may be at a desk with the others spread around the different areas of the studio using its features to demonstrate a point. Some of the demonstrations will involve video highlights, others will involve a display of stats and others will use the virtual hockey rink that can be projected on the floor or the wall. For example, Nick Kypreos will be able to step on the virtual rink with Kelly Hrudey and show how a team might handle faceoffs. One area of the studio that is of particular pride is the wall of pucks. This is a video display with a set of 30 pucks, with each NHL team's logo on them, beside it. When someone takes a puck and places it in the holder, the display lights up with information about that team displayed from stats to facts.

Crowning all of this is a monitor called Goliath, 11 feet high and 38 feet long, the largest high-definition monitor used in a Canadian TV studio.

There are some things that will remain from the old version of Hockey Night: Coach's Corner with Don Cherry and Ron MacLean during the first intermission, features on the players , Glenn Healy broadcasting from between the players' benches (with Mike Johnson also helping out) and between-periods player interviews.

The official pregame show on Saturdays is at 6:30 p.m. But now there is a pre-pregame show at 5:30 p.m. on Sportsnet 360.

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