Its been a few days since the season got underway so it’s a good time to review some of the changes that have been made and the weekend’s hockey coverage.
- NHL Network kicked off the season with a 2011 Faceoff pregame show. The show got off to a weak start with numerous repeated segments but it gained steam towards the end. Notably, there was a “Hotstove” like segment with the four analysts debating each division. The addition of Barry Melrose livened things up and Mike Modano did well in his first appearance. I’d like to see NHLN use this approach more often. Kathryn Tappen has been a great addition and I think Marty Turco would make a great analyst on a regular basis.
- The NHL on Versus is having an identity crisis. Outside of a few Versus logos, its largely been replaced by NBC everywhere. The presentation is better but it is a little confusing for viewers. I know they are trying to link the nets together, but they might have been better off to just wait until the Versus relaunch. Of the Versus broadcast pairings over the weekend, I preferred the Emrick/McGuire duo. Two announcers work better and more info gets out there. My other Versus nitpick is the NBC score bar across the top. It is way too obtrusive and is a downgrade from the Versus one. NBC should debut a new one once NBCSN launches.
- CBC debuted a new graphics and presentation package. I’m not crazy about it. I like the smaller score box but the bumper music is awful. I’m sure I’ll get used to it but it doesn’t seem to fit HNIC. I didn’t get a chance to watch Game Day so I can’t say anything about that. I did find it ironic that the CBC Jets special, Fuelled by Passion, sounds almost exactly like the new Sportsnet slogan, “Fuelled by Fans”.
- CBC used three studio analysts Saturday night and it seemed a bit much especially if you include the iDesk. Milbury won’t always be there, especially after December but when he is, it’s better to leave PJ Stock behind. Stock is ok but he adds very little compared to Milbury and Kelly Hrudey. HNIC is always cramped for time so less is actually more when it comes to studio talking heads.
- I’m not going to get into Don Cherry’s comments too much at this point since its only feeding his ego. I often enjoy Cherry but he likes to be the center of the attention and this latest controversy fits right in with that. He knows this will get people talking and thats what he wants. Why encourage it?
- One particular low blow at HNIC came from Glenn Healy who felt it was necessary to insult Atlanta during the Jets game Sunday. Healy came up with what he thought was a zinger, “Want to know how we know we’re in Winnipeg? They’re chanting Price’s name. That wouldn’t have happened in Atlanta.” Healy made several other insulting comments during the broadcast. Healy always seems bitter and unhappy but on this night, his comments were totally unnecessary. Healy’s comments were classless and helped tarnish a special night for Jets fans. Instead of looking to the future, he was too busy taking pot shots and highlighting the franchise’s troubled past. Jesse Spector wrote a great piece which pretty much sums up my opinion on Healy’s comments.
- Fox Sports Net and Sportsnet also debuted new looks this weekend. FSN looks much crisper than before and is now on par with the Fox network. Sportsnet’s seem a little dark for me and some of the text is hard to read. I’d like something splashier. I’m also not a fan of their new music package.
- Marty McSorley joined John Shannon and Jeff Marek during the Oilers intermission Sunday. McSorley is clearly being moved to a bigger role at the network. Marek seemed a little rusty as host but perhaps he’ll fit in better once he gets more comfortable. I still have my doubts whether Marek can anchor studio coverage on a regular basis.