VERSUS.com Improves a Ton This Season

The first post ever done during the regular posting hours of this website (October 21st, 2008: Whadja get us for our anniversary!) is one talking about the improvement of VERSUS.com.  Titled cynically “VERSUS.com is Nearly Worth Reading” it extolled the virtues of added editorial content and an embrace of the blogosphere.  So why not return to that subject almost a year later?

First, it should be pointed out that the network has started promoting the website during it’s hockey telecasts.  It’s the first time I can really recall them doing this, apart from a joint Hockey Central/OLNTv.com campaign during the 05-06 season.

While a lot is the same, there has been a bit of an effort to re-design the site.  It’s improved, but not by much.  It’s moved from 1990’s AOL quality to turn of the century.  That said, effort is being made.  Still, we want to see a complete revamp eventually.  We’re sure some of our more enterprising commenters could come up with one.  Feel free to e-mail them to SMLepore@comcast.net.  We’d love to post them.

This year, some more new features have been added.  One continued mainstay from the playoffs is a “Hockey 101” feature.  It shows a ton of video game-style narratives about things as basic as off-side to how to execute an effective 2-on-1.  Even the most knowledgeable young hockey fan could use a look at this cute little feature.  Also, we’d love to know from our readers if any of those videos have any strategical mistakes.  All in all, we dig it.

While the editorials are the same, you get the sense that the columnists are hunting for some more buzz-worthy game this season.  Adrian Dater, who we playfully criticized last season for some more light-hearted fare, has approached this season very take-no-prisoners style, generating a ton of response for his column stating that the NHL should look to Nashville as it’s next hopeless southern market.  Agree or disagree (I disagree), Dater had people visiting VERSUS.com, which has been a struggle even within the loyal hockey community.

Another feature you may have not noticed yet is one entitled “Rookie Diaries”.  A series produced by NHL Productions and running on VERSUS.com takes you through the life of, you guessed it, an NHL rookie.  We dug the first feature on James van Riemsdyk, and you can see it here.  VERSUS’ video player has also added nightly recaps from talent live on-site at the game (Forslund and Olczyk recapping tonight’s CGY-CHI classic, for example) in addition to the lame weekly recaps/previews from the studio team.

What can be further done to improve the website?  How about a preview of the game taped by one of the talent at the morning skate?  One of the things that made the writer previews ineffective was that the writer wasn’t always that informed on a team playing that night or even on sight at the game.  At least, how about the play-by-play and color man putting up a short blog or video preview at 5pm before a 7pm game?  How about some more interviews from the locker room at post-game?  If VERSUS has as much access as it claims, why not use it to the fullest extent?

That said, VERSUS.com is getting better.  There are still some weak spots.  The talented Bill Meltzer’s “The Daily Drop” blog is never archived and can kind of read like the articles you see from fake newspapers in video games.  VERSUS.com’s continued improvement is hoped for by this writer, however.  We need more content to make fun of next year!

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