Why Bob Costas at the Winter Classic is Good

That mug above this typing is Bob Costas’.  He’s done remarkably little actual work since NBC lost the rights to MLB, the NBA and the AFC in the late 90’s/early 00’s.  A horse racing event here, a golf tournament there.  Obviously, the Olympics, and eventually Sunday Night Football, have given him something to do, but there are even rumblings that – with the mass of humanity on that show – he’ll quit that gig too.  

Let’s face it, the man, in his current days, is not a workaholic.  He has every right not to be.  He’s worked pretty much every major event in the sporting world (except the Stanley Cup Finals – c’mon Bob!  Join us more often!) and obviously has enough money to spend his time as he wishes.  

So, when he does choose to do something – and an NHL game at that – it lends some credibility to the event.  That is exactly what his appearance at Winter Classic I did, and is exactly what his hosting of Winter Classic II: Chicago Bugaloo will do.  How do we know he’s in?  Well, if you haven’t seen this promo yet, first of all: Where have you been?  Secondly, listen to the last 10 seconds or so for Costas’ voice, post-jump.

Before I go on (and at some point I will) about how awesome that promo is, you obviously heard the voiceover from Costas at the end.  There are definite benefits to Costas’ participation in this outdoor game in particular:

Baseball Nerd Makes it Safe For Other Baseball Nerds: If you know anything about Bob Costas, it’s that he is a little bit of a dork for America’s pasttime.  It’s part of something Greg Wyshynski mentioned in his piece on the promo: 

But right here, the NHL connected baseball iconography to professional hockey in a way that says, “We’re coming into one of your temples, and we’re going to honor it with the same dedication to tradition, blue-collar ethics and entertainment that keeps you coming to the ballpark every season. Give us a shot.”

Having Bob Costas, a trusted name and baseball fan, at the Winter Classic does even more to reach out to fans of the grand game, and other sports as well.  “Hey, if this guy’s cool with it, it must not be sacrilege.” 

Someone Needs to Be on the Telecast That Non-Hockey Fans Know: Let’s be honest, the average American can’t name 1 Chicago Blackhawk, and they’d be hardpressed to name a Red Wing after Yzerman retired.  Bob Costas has name recognition that no NHL player – not even Sidney Crosby – has in America.  Love him or hate him, chances are if he’s doing something, people will not ignore it.

It Delays the Inevitable Mike Milbury/Pierre McGuire Snipfest: Didn’t the NBC intermission show feel awfully staged and annoying all last season?  The debate – which had become a more interesting feature with McGuire, Brett Hull and Eddie Olczyk – turned into a whiny, all-out bore-fest, featuring the most infuriating feature ever:  Taking analysts who failed as coaches, and asking them to imagine what they’d do in legit benchmasters such as Mike Babcock’s or Dave Tippett’s situation.  Costas hosting means there’ll be some light-hearted banter between he and Milbury, and chances are McGuire will skip the telecast entirely to work the World Junior Championships.  Breathe a sigh of relief at that.

Costas Dresses Better than Neumeier: Remember Bob Neumeier’s hosting stint during the Stanley Cup Finals?  While it made the telecast a teensy bit more bearable, he really wore the most awful suits known to man, with commenters like myself dubbing him “Hobo Bob”.  Thank goodness there isn’t another year of that.

We welcome back Bob Costas to the hockey fold.  Stay a while.  Like you have anything better to do between January and August.

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