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Neil Best leaves no stone unturned in the world of sports media.

McHugh the man

Generations of Newsday sports part-timers have gone on to bigger and better things in journalism, but some of us have taken less predictable paths than others.

That's your cue, Liam McHugh.

"I remember covering Roslyn girls badminton," he said. "At that point, I did not think in almost exactly 10 years I'd be on NBC hosting Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals."

Not that there's anything wrong with Roslyn badminton. McHugh recalled a pretty good match against Great Neck South, actually.

But at 33, he now is in the middle of a rapid rise at NBC/Versus, validating a mid-course correction to TV after he began in print at Newsday and ESPN the Magazine.

"Around 2003, I saw the writing on the wall that I was not going to be the next Gary Smith in magazine writing, and just about everyone at ESPN the Magazine agreed with me," he said.

So he went to Syracuse to learn TV, got work in Terre Haute, Ind., and Oklahoma City, and last year hosted the short-lived "Daily Line" on Versus, now best known as Jenn Sterger's former place of work.

Sam Flood, NBC Sports' executive producer and a hockey maven, took a liking to McHugh and by February, after NBC and Versus became corporate siblings, he found himself as an NHL studio host for both channels.

This week, he will be the intermission host on NBC for Games 1 and 2, then host Versus' postgame.

"It has been an extremely long, strange trip and a very, very amazing last year," the Herricks alum said.

McHugh played soccer at Buffalo but even though he grew up an Islanders fan, he did not play hockey. "As my father told me, the McHughs have weak ankles," he said. (His father, Frank, was a longtime track coach at Elmont.)

"People who haven't seen me in like eight months can't believe what's happened," McHugh said. "But I have not had any time to think about it."

Tags: Versus , NBC

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