VERSUS.com is Nearly Worth Reading

One of the more under-written about complaints about the VERSUS network’s coverage of the National Hockey League (God, I’ve written so many posts starting with that sentence, it’s getting pretty grating) has been that their website sucks.  It’s hard to read, over-crowded with ads, organized poorly, and frankly, looks like a page from the late 90′s with an out-of-place looking video player mixed in.

The NHL area of the site is not much better.  Up until this season, It featured video from the VERSUS games, an occasional video recap/preview of the week in hockey from their studio weirdos, and the infrequent column from analyst Darren Eliot, or a game recap from a member of their broadcast crew.  Also, some standings and other statistics provided by STATS inc.  Overall, not very impressive.

But this season, there has been an influx of new content on VERSUS.com that has made the site almost worth a daily visit.  NHL beat-writers Adrian Dater (Colorado), Mike Heika (Dallas) and Chuck Gormley (Philadelphia) have all provided weekly columns, which haven’t had that mailed in feeling that a writer’s secondary gig can often have.  Each writer seems to be splitting duties writing previews for every VERSUS game.

But, in a more welcome sighting, VERSUS appears to be embracing the hockey blogosphere.  I was pleasantly surprised to see a column from Reasonable Doubt of the awesome Melt Your Face Off on the Bruins today.  I saw an article posted by Mike Chen of KK and FOXSports.com last week, and Eliot, a solid broadcaster who also writes for SI.com, has kept his weekly wrap-up of all things hockey.

What can VERSUS improve upon to make itself must read?  Well, a design revamp would help.  But maybe starting a hockey blog on it’s site to put all these columns up, and maybe add some other writers to do nightly wrap-ups (like a slightly cleaned up version of Deadspin’s old NHL Closer) that would cause more people to notice the site.  They could integrate the writing talent with the network, too, like ESPN does.  Have Adrian Dater appear via phone, or put Gormley in the studio for a night.  Use Mike Heika as an on-site reporter when the network does a game in Dallas.

Listen, I know a lot of people who will flat-out refuse to read VERSUS.com because of it’s initial impressions, when it was even more disgusting a few years ago.  But at least give the network’s NHL page a shot, you might actually find yourself enjoying what your reading.

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About stevelepore
Steve Lepore is the Managing Editor of Puck the Media. His work has been featured in The Hockey News. Feel free to contact him at stevemlepore@gmail.com

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