Your Announcers and Open Thread for Rangers-Devils

NY Rangers vs. New Jersey, 7 PM, VERSUS
Play by Play:
Mike Emrick
Color: Eddie Olczyk
Reporter: Bob Harwood

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Review: NHL Network Asks the Different Questions on “Off the Ice”

One of the great, latent effects of the blogosphere is that bloggers with access are finally asking more interesting questions of the players, and getting some pretty entertaining answers from them at times.  This has sort of dominoed into the mainstream media, which includes both newspaper writers, television reporters and networks trying to think outside the box when it comes to talking with the league’s stars.

This is the angle that NHL Network’s new series “Off the Ice” (Premieres tonight, 7:30 PM ET) is coming from.  It’s a show that will ask some of the obvious questions, but even those are allowed to be explored in more interesting details.  For example, you saw VERSUS’ interview with Sidney Crosby that touched very briefly on Sid the Kid’s rivalry with Alexander Ovechkin.  Blah blah blah.  Boring, as Homer Simpson would say.

However, on “Off the Ice” Sid the Kid is permitted longer than 10 seconds to talk about the rivalry, and actually produces some interesting stuff.  Ditto the always entertaining Ovechkin, who has his own segment for the show.  They even manage to get some good stuff from #1 overall draft pick John Tavares, who has always struck me as the typical, boring, quoteless hockey player.

Though that may be what NHL Network is aiming for here.  A real opportunity to show that, given ample time to tell a player’s story, that we may discover that there’s something worth listening to.  The first episode most certainly shows the groundwork laid and the potential for a worthwhile regular series there.  If you have a chance to catch it in it’s premiere, I’d recommend it.  If not, hey, we’re on the NHL Network.  You’ll see it eventually.  But make sure you see it, above all.


Winners and Losers of the NHL’s Opening Weekend on TV

Four of the NHL’s five TV partners (VERSUS, TSN, CBC, NHL Net) got their season’s underway along with our favorite game on Thursday and over the weekend.  Here’s a straightforward list of who impressed me over the weekend and who did not.

WINNER: Kevin Weekes.

  • Weekes has claimed that if an offer came to him from an NHL team over next summer, he would take it, but we might recommend that he stick to the booth.  While he started out both of his first two CBC telecasts (VAN-CGY Thursday, CGY-EDM Saturday) somewhat nervous, he quickly grew into the role both times.  He still needs to fill in some dead air every now and then, but he clearly has more than enough talent to do it.  A special mention to him connecting with the audience by showing an embarrassing goaltending moment of his own after Nikolai Khabibulin’s egregious gaffe on Saturday during After Hours.

LOSER: VERSUS’ Coverage of the Premiere Games

  • Dave Strader, Rick Peckham, Billy Jaffe and Darren Eliot all performed admirably under rough circumstances.  VERSUS was clearly having trouble with the system of having announcers call the game off monitors by not properly allowing the announcers themselves to see the games at times.  This led to play-by-play sounding very disjointed at times, and especially during the Chicago-Florida game you could tell there were stretches where Strader couldn’t see the puck.  Embarrassing.

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