Why not Hockey Night in North America?

Nice duds.

I lived in Phoenix for a half-dozen years and couldn’t get anybody interested in hockey who didn’t already know who Peter Puck was. Part of the problem, I always told people, was the re-packaging of a product that was already palatable. Why did ESPN bring in fourth-stringers to “improve” on national broadcasts that CBC already used its top line on? That’s the premise of Jim Boone’s blog at The Hockey News. It’s a bit of a reach, Boone’s fictional piece has Mark Messier choking Gary Bettman; but every hockey fan’s had that dream.

They quickly start shooting for the top corner. Mess giggles at how a few classic Don Cherry tirades will perfectly suit the American crowd. Betsy worries about convincing a U.S. network this crazy Hockey Night in Canada idea is a good one. Mess gets serious again for a split-second and hollers, “Keep your eye on the prize, Betsy!” Bettman snaps out of it and starts extolling the positive aspects of this idea again.

We realize how good HNIC is because we’re one of the border markets that gets to compare products. ESPN’s coverage was bad, and Versus’ coverage is probably just as bad, although I’ve never made it through an entire telecast. Add into the mix the fact that MSG has Rick Jeanneret — the best guy in the business — and frankly, we’re hockey broadcast connoisseurs. We don’t have a lot, but Western New Yorkers have some inherent rights — we’ll order the wings, and decide how the hockey’s covered.

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3 responses to “Why not Hockey Night in North America?

  1. It’s so frustrating talking to friends in other parts of the country about hockey … and they just don’t “get it.” But you’re right. Look at the packaging they’re given. Versus is HORRIBLE … but at least they air the games. NBC makes Versus look like they know what they’re talking about. We ARE spoiled here … but realize that we’re not going to have Jeanerette forever. What did you think of Kevin Sylvester’s play-by-play when he filled in this year, Tim?

  2. Honestly, watching the hockey package this year on Direct TV, there are a decent amount of good hockey play-by-play men for American-based teams. Mike Haynes (Avalanche), Jack Edwards (Bruins) and Doc Emerick (Devils) are the first that come to mind. Overall I rarely dislike the announcers. The color guys, on the other hand, are all pretty mediocre. I don’t think it’s the quality of the guys in the booth, or the broadcast’s dedication to the “game,” but it’s the fact that it’s just a regional telecast that accounts for its limited appeal. Our national telecasts (Versus and NBC) are all inferior to the Canadian national version. That’s the difference. The networks should just focus on the game, like the regional broadcasts.

  3. Funny, I just had a long conversation about this the other night. What would be wrong with letting the fairly talented locals call games for the national broadcasts? If they’re just as good or better, why are the big networks wasting money to put out a mediocre product?

    I know, there’s the subject of a hometown bias, but if Jeannerete knew he was national, he’d probably tone down the homer.

    Of course, it’ll never happen. But it’s fun thinking about it.

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