Finding a hockey fan who likes the TV network name "Versus" is about as hard as finding a non-hockey fan who can find Versus on his or her cable lineup.

NBC Sports Group is formally announcing plans to trash Versus -- the name, at least -- and re-brand the channel NBC Sports Network.

Mark Lazarus, a bigwig at NBC Sports, tells USA Today this is a "complete repositioning of the brand."

You have plenty of time to prepare. The new handle won't take effect until Jan. 2, 2012, which happens to be the day of the annual NHL outdoors game. That's probably not a tribute to the original name of Versus -- the Outdoor Life Network.

With about 70 million homes getting the channel, NBC has some work to do in getting up to the 100 million rung of ESPN and ESPN 2.

More programming would be a start. IndyCar, UFC, NBA D-League, cycling and classic Notre Dame football re-broadcasts fill out a light lineup on the peacock-owned channel. (Perhaps it should be named "Irish and Ice.")

But NBC has big plans to dump much of its 2012 Olympic programming onto the newly named "NBC Sports Network."

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