NBC Sports Network logo during first game on the re-branded network.

It is black Monday for not only the National Football League, and coaches and executives that have been fired today, but also for the Versus name in the cable sports network realm.

NBC Sports Group acted on their planned re-brand of Versus to the NBC Sports Network during the 2012 Bridgestone Winter Classic between the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers.

Monday’s SportsBusiness Journal included a Q&A with Mark Lazarus (subscription content), the chairman of NBC Sports Group who is starting the property on a five-year plan to grow its offerings while supporting the NBC Sports Groups broadcast assets including not only the NHL, but also this year’s Super Bowl and the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

You can learn more about Lazarus and his approach via The New York Times article: “More Low-Key Than His Predecessor NBC Sports Chief Still Aims High.”

Brian Engblom, using new mic flag, interviews San Jose Sharks Head Coach Todd Mclellan

I am excited about the NHL coverage and the opportunity to bring the legitimacy of the NBC Sports name, and its production quality, to arenas throughout North America.

I’m currently watching the first NHL game to be played under the NBC Sports Network, the San Jose Sharks at the Vancouver Canucks, but it will be Wednesday, January 11, 2012, when the Washington Capitals host the Pittsburgh Penguins, that I’ll really soak in the the new persona as it presents coverage of the great rivalry.

Happy New Year, happy new network name and congrats to everyone at the NBC Sports Group.