While this past Saturday wasn’t CBC’s first hockey telecast of the new season, it was the first one from their home base in Toronto. It was also the first telecast to officially show off some of the changes that are happening for the new season. CBC has made a number of changes to their broadcasts and I thought I’d do a quick review of some of them and how they went over on Saturday night.
- The most noticeable change is right in the studio. Elliotte Friedman now finds himself in the studio, helming the iDesk. I had mentioned before that Friedman was moving to an “insider” role with the network and apparently this will be his new base. Seeing Friedman at the iDesk was a bit of a shock since it had been reported that Nabil Karim would get that job. As of this morning, Karim’s own Twitter bio lists him as iDesk host. Perhaps he’s gotten his Hockey Night Online duties confused. In the past I’ve considered the iDesk little more than a promo spot for Chevrolet. Even Don Cherry has somewhat criticized the segment on air. Friedman needs to change that and revitalize the iDesk and make it relevant. While once in awhile Jeff Marek and Scott Morrison did have something important to add, they really only added things online and social media wise for CBC. The iDesk segment was usually a waste of time especially with the Hotstove and other segments running out of time when they had more topics to discuss.
- Having Friedman off to the side in the studio didn’t necessarily work out well. It was a little awkward chemistry wise. I’d much rather see the iDesk get dumped – but then CBC loses that all important Chevy money. Friedman could become the Bob McKenzie of HNIC. He’s certainly nowhere near Bob’s level at this point but he has potential. I’d move Friedman to the main desk just so it wasn’t so awkward when he tries to make a point while the guys at the main desk are talking. I think he would add quite a bit to the panel and it would smooth things out. Perhaps the funniest part of the new iDesk set was seeing the digital scroll on the top of the set continuously read “Test Message.” You would think someone would’ve changed that before they went to air, but I guess it is the pre-season.
- David Amber made his debut as a rinkside reporter and he did a decent job. I’m not a big fan of Amber’s but I thought he handled this role better than his hosting duties on NHLN’s On the Fly. It’s not easy being an entertaining rinkside reporter and it will be hard to fill Friedman’s shoes but he got off to a pretty good start. One suggestion is to follow Scott Oake’s lead. Oake is a great reporter and Amber would be wise to reach out to him for some advice.
- Andi Petrillo made a quick cameo to promote the new Game Day program. It will premiere this Saturday with a special two hour show at 4 PM EST before moving to its usual 5 PM one hour format. A small but decent picture of the set can be found here. It sounds like it has some great potential. Co-host P.J. Stock said that they plan on focusing on lifestyle segments along with the usual hockey news stuff. I’m looking forward to giving it a try. Stock is still a bit of a mess at times, especially when he’s narrating highlights but he’s getting better as an analyst in the studio. He’s certainly improved alot since he debuted on OLN several years ago and was visibly nervous.
- Finally, Mike Milbury was nowhere to be found on the CBC set. Milbury hasn’t been a part of any of the three days of pre-season coverage on CBC. Milbury will be working much more for NBC this season and perhaps he’s cutting down on his CBC work. I’ve contacted CBC to find out his status but I have yet to hear back. Milbury will not be a part of Boston Bruins telecasts on NESN this season as he’s cutting back to focus on his national TV duties.