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SportsPulse: USA TODAY’s hockey insider Kevin Allen details the story lines that you should pay attention to this season.
USA TODAY Sports

Mike Milbury makes it clear that he is not replacing Ed Olczyk as an NBC analyst as much as he is holding his place.

He views NBC’s decision to name him as Mike Emrick’s analyst partner while Olczyk recovers from colon cancer surgery as NBC’s way of embracing the NHL-concept of “next man up.” Milbury and Emrick will be together Wednesday, Oct. 4, when the Blues play in Pittsburgh at 8 p.m on NBC Sports Network.

“When you have a problem, someone has to fill in,” Milbury told USA TODAY Sports. “I’m a little nervous about it. It’s not something I’ve done a lot of. But the good news is when you are sitting next to someone as polished and celebrated as Doc Emrick you can just ride shotgun and not worry much. I hope.”

Milbury has carved his niche in hockey broadcasting with a bombastic style that both excites and infuriates viewers at various times.

Because he’s only worked eight or 10 games as an analyst in the booth, he’s not sure what his style will be in his new role. It’s unknown when Olczyk, who announced he was battling cancer in early August, will return to the booth, but Milbury said he has received a schedule through New Year’s Day.

“It’s a totally different job,” Milbury said.

“He sees the game very well,” said Sam Flood, NBC and NBCSN’s executive producer and president of production. “When you watch a game in the studio, he has a lot of points that are relevant in the moment, but by the time we get to intermission, the moment might have passed.”

In the studio, Milbury watches games and has time to think about what he will say between periods. In the booth, he must microwave his opinions.

“You do have time to tee the ball up (in studio),” Milbury said. “(In the booth) you have to hit the pitch when it’s thrown and where it’s thrown.”

Because he is working with Emrick and Pierre McGuire, Milbury laughingly says that he knows that his job will not be to provide biographical information on the players.

“Those guys wake up eating sports information brochures for breakfast,” Milbury said.

Milbury said he believes the challenge will be deciding “when do I jump in and when do I pull back?”

“I guess my approach will be to shut up until I have something to say,” Milbury said.   “Being…