NHL Television Coverage - Really?

(Note to the reader - the post below is all about hockey and I've been told may be very reader specific. I would love it if you took the time to read, but I understand if you're just not interested this time.)

Alright, everybody knows how much I love hockey. I define myself as a hockey player. I believe life is a lot like hockey, (i.e. When you really break the game down, and assume a basic skillset, it's really just about hard work and goaltending, just like life. You work hard, you accomplish much, and you have somebody in your life who makes the saves you can't. - Hey, it's a metaphor go with me.)

I even named my blog using a nickname my hockey team tagged me with.

So, when I see something about hockey that really bothers me, well, I have to speak up.

Monday night (1/12/2009) I saw, or rather I heard it. Watching the Red Wings' game on Versus Television, I listened to some of the most pathetic announcing I have heard for a sporting event in, well, I can't remember how long.

Now, no true hockey fan really loves the Versus coverage. A large majority of us are fans of CBC having grown up on Hockey Night in Canada.

Many younger fans became accustomed to ESPN's hockey coverage through most of the 1990's, and others watch only their hometown announcers, and their hometown team.

Unfortunately, there are also a whole bunch of folks who don't watch hockey at all. Okay, they might not think it's unfortunate, but I do.

I'd like to see the National Hockey League reach out to these people and at least let those who might want to, "learn about the sport."

With Versus - that ain't happening, although from Monday night's game some speculate that they might at least be trying.

I'm not so sure. Watching in our online chatroom with my fellow Wings' fans from across the land, (Yes, I chat online while watching the game) we often lament what we perceive to be a lack of good announcers on Versus.

"To be honest," I always say, "I don't generally hear the announcers. I'm just watching the game and chatting."

Monday night we all heard them. How bad was it?

Here, I'll let you "listen" in to our discussion.

(I'm using online monikers for the sake of privacy.)

About halfway through the first period, announcers going back and forth on which team is doing what, and generally being wrong about all of it.

From Detroit River we hear: "These Vs announcers are about as much fun as snot on a door knob."

I think he overestimated - moving on... Much discussion of how Versus, the former Outdoor Life Network came to be the home of NHL coverage.

From Jimbro, (that's me): Come on - nothing screams hockey more than "the former" Outdoor Living Network. ;-)

From Hockeytown101: Wasn't it Life?

Jimbro: You might be right Hockeytown, I don't remember Life, Living - it's all just the rodeo waiting to happen isn't it?

Hockeytown101: I don't remember Jim, I thought I heard "Life" either way yea, it is a giant rodeo station.

Getting back to the game I'll share these quotes from our discussion of the
announcer's word choices. Yeah, it seems I was running my mouth more than most,
but I couldn't help it.

Jimbro: Did he just say Ott went fondling? What the heck?

WingsfaninTN: fabulosity ?

Jimbro: How do you author a goal? "It was a dark and stormy ice rink..."

Jimbro: He ran into the knot, as the idiot announcers called the tie up in front of the net.

Jimbro: Mastadonic glove grab? What the heck is that?

Hockeytown101: That was a wooley mammoth save?????

Jimbro: Jimbro to the announcers: "Know how I know you're gay..?"

DtownDinah: Got him right in la bouche... (Yeah the announcer said that) I think the entire
French nation and all it's French-speaking allies just had simultaneous aneurisms.

Jimbro: Dallas had no tourists on the forecheck.

WingsfaninTN: I wonder what kind of words 3rd period will bring us?

DtownDinah: lmao...only time will tell! But I bet they'll be scrumtrulescent! And maybe some of our guys will author best selling goals to later appear on the New York Times list.

Jimbro: It was the best of ice, (Detroit) It was the worst of ice, (Dallas)

Jimbro: Get through the herd?

DtownDinah: That was like sorcery, apparently... (Dats goal)

(reference to Red Wings' star center Pavel Datsyuk.)

Jimbro: Wired it short side high-up where your Momma never does? Did I hear that right?

DtownDinah: LoL Jim we are on the same page...

Hockeytown101: Dats would be valedictorian at the school of awesome...lol

Jimbro: That's definitive. Bounced straight down. A whiff in tight makes sense, but everything sounds weird now.

Jimbro: Goaltending paraphernalia?

Jimbro: Nice work Ozzie. Lotta "stuffin'" though.

Detroit River: Jim- I can name two Purple Barneys in the Vs booth

Hockeytown101: I was thinking mastadon Jim and Wooley Mammoth came to mind

DtownDinah: Well whatever they are...no you know what I can't even come up with a witty retort. They just suck. Multiple levels of sucktitude.

Jimbro: Pure Ginsu of the 4 man box? Wow! I got nothin. That sucked!

DtownDinah: Dropping anchor and bunting one home...uuuh...which sport is this again?

Jimbro: Titillating contest. Yeah, that's what I was thinking. OMG!

We did try to give the announcers a little bit of a break -

WingsfaninTN: My husband is convinced they have a "key word" list for the evening.

jlewings: I have one good thing to say about the announcers tonight - at least they weren't downing the Wings and praising the opposing team. They may have been ludicrous with their comments, but I at least appreciate the Wing love. Also - I think they were trying to cater to "new" or "casual" fans. Not my cup of tea - I love some Mickey and Ken (Mickey Redmond, and Ken Daniels are the regular Red Wing announcers on FSN in Detroit.)

As is usually the case, the group didn't just discuss the announcers on Versus. We also have some issues with the commercials.

Rent-a-Car from Enterprise you say?

Jimbro: Sounds expensive? It is Mom, now get your a** in the car so we can get this thing back before they charge an extra day.

New Pizza Hut Natural Pizza your thing?

Hockeytown101: I wonder, now that Pizza Hut has that "natural Pizza" with "real taste" What the hell have they been making all these years? Fake pizza?

WingsfaninTN: Hockeytown- I was just wondering the same thing! and is it only this 1 pizza, and they will still sell the rest?

DtownDinah: Haha HockeyTown and WingsfaninTN that's what I thought when McD's was advertising their real all white meat chicken...

Hockeytown101: I know WingsfaninTN -it makes sense that all their pizzas would be natural, I guess I'm wrong.

WingNut1967: No because most everything Pizza hut uses is full of preserves...

We'll let WingNut have the last word from the chat room.

Seriously, please Gary Bettman on behalf of hockey fans everywhere - go to ESPN and do what you should have done after the lockout in the first place. Beg them, pay them, do whatever you have to do to get NHL games back on their network.

Then go find some sponsors that can make commercials that make sense and have fresh material for their ads.

Failing to do so could result in the most dire consequences for our sport – Do you really want to be as irrelevant as rodeo?


Anonymous said...

I take it you haven't heard some of the women's basketball announcers on the Big Ten Network? Some aren't bad; but I muted one pair recently after about 5 mins and turned on radio coverage.

I think it's like pitchers in baseball, quarterbacks in football, and probably goaltenders in hockey - at some point the league expands so much there isn't enough talent to go around. While I'm glad there is more sports coverage than 20 years ago, it is apparently expanding faster than announcing talent can be found. (witness Fox's coverage of BCS games, esp. Championship game)
Luckily, my disdain for inept sports announcers has led to my loved one buying me a radio delay device so I can delay radio broadcast to be simultaneous with tv picture. Lucky me!
oh, and btw, life is a lot like softball...or baseball...I've always said.

Anonymous said...

My Dad still tunes in the radio coverage of Red Sox games while watching it on NESN. I think television sports coverage in general is absolutely atrocious. The younger guys never had to really call a game, since they could rely on what the viewer's seeing on screen, and the coverage suffers for it.

I will say about Versus though, as the only place I can get pro cycling coverage in the states without paying for bad online streaming (a travesty in its own right): they have Phil Liggett calling the races, and he is one of the best sportcasters working right now, period.

Jim Brochowski said...

You both make excellent observations about the evolution of announcing.

Listening to Colin Cowherds(sp) radio show yesterday - the #1 sports announcer of all time is Mel Allen of the Yankees. I don't know that I agree with that, but it's interesting to note that the larger majority of the "best" on the list were all from 30-40 years ago.

Have to admit I don't watch much Big Ten Network. I can only imagine - and it ain't good.

You have to pay for online cycling coverage? Really? Wow! That is just sad. You shouldn't have to pay to view something online. Sorry to hear that.

I'm sure Versus has some sports they do well, like cycling. They may even have a great handle on rodeo or MMA. I just wish they'd stick to those and leave my sport alone. ;-)

largesse said...

Jimmer, you make me want to watch hockey just so I can laugh at the funny language! Sounds as if these guys have too many WOTDs to fit in. ;-)

Jim Brochowski said...

Good point largesse.

I might have to add some of these word to the "to be used" list.

Trust me, there are much better reasons to watch hockey, but I guess anything that brings fans to the game...