It has been awhile since I did an opinion piece in bullet form, so the time has come for one.
- The much ballyhooed NHL Tonight made its debut last night. It had its new soundtrack and modern looking intro. Besides that though, nothing really changed from NHL On The Fly: Final. It was basically a flashier version of OTF. I was concerned about that, and indeed it seems like NHLN is just trying to update its image and use the vaunted program name to grab some eyeballs.
- Now, not everything was bad about it. The show moved fast and it was updated throughout the night. Kevin Weekes and Billy Jaffe were solid as always and David Amber kept things lively. But let’s face it, fans were expecting something new, and this didn’t cut it. They did use the actual calls on some highlights and I’d still like them to do that during all game packages. But the graphics and style were stale which was a bit of a disappointment on its first night.
- The good news is that as I mentioned before, there is new programming on the way. This will be slowly rolled out and should go full speed once NHLN gets its new studios in Stamford. Their Winter Classic coverage should be interesting although I’m not a fan of then cutting off TSN’s WJC intermissions to go to Philadelphia as they plan on doing. TSN is number one and NHLN should be showcasing them, not hyping the league’s special event.
- Going back to the WJC, I thought NHLN did a decent job of covering the blowout by USA over Denmark. The new graphics looked pretty good and I’d like to see them in use during NHL games. Matt Rosen was solid although I’d prefer to see Gary Thorne or JP Dellacamera come back to the mic. I like Dave Starman, I think he’s very knowledgable and is one of the top college analysts. Rob Simpson was as good as one can be in a rather thankless reporter role. I’d still prefer TSN’s coverage but I understand the want of USA Hockey to have their own cheerleaders.
- Moving on to CBC, Canadian Sports Media Blog has the news that Nabil Karim has moved on to join TSN. This comes at a bad time for the CBC as Mike Milbury is only expected to make sporadic appearances from here on out as NBC starts ramping up their NHL coverage. CBC has been decimated with departures over the past year and this makes it worse. Karim wasn’t an essential part of the HNIC team but he was important when it comes to their digital strategy.
- Milbury’s move leaves a much larger hole, no matter how you feel about him. They could move Glenn Healy to the studio and try someone else between the benches. Both Greg Millen and Cassie Campbell have done it before. Or they can go down to two analysts as the main desk as they did before. Less chatter might be a good thing. And of course, they could go the TSN route and find themselves an ex-coach to join the network. Either way, CBC is lacking in the personnel department compared to where they stood many years ago.