Your Announcers and Open Thread For Penguins-Bruins

Pittsburgh vs. Boston, 7PM, VERSUS
Play by Play:
John Forslund
Color: Andy Brickley
Reporter: Lindsay Soto

Note: Mike Keenan will be in the Hockey Central studio.

A Belated Tribute to John Davidson, The Best Color Analyst Ever

It’s hard to emote on broadcasters who didn’t work for your own local team.  To write a tribute to them seems phony.  But let me tell you, as a kid living in New York metro area, John Davidson’s voice was THE hockey authority.  The fact is, if you listened to him, you came out smarter as a hockey fan after whatever game you watched.  You can’t say that about every color announcer.

The sheer factor of how many networks hired him (He has to be one of the few people to ever work for CBS, FOX, NBC and ABC, as well as VERSUS, SportsChannel America, CBC, OLN and of course MSG) is a tribute to how relevant he stayed to hockey fans in this country, and how hard he worked at keeping himself a top level analyst.

It’d probably validate JD’s entire body of work to state that if he ever stepped down as president of the St. Louis Blues (because you don’t fire a man like JD) he would likely go back to being the #1 voice of the NHL in America on network and cable TV.  I’d give a lot to hear him with Sam Rosen again on a Rangers telecast, and double that to hear him call games with Doc Emrick again on national television.

The thing about Emrick and Davidson’s telecast is that they were the most informed, prepared broadcast crew you could find on television.  The NHL needs to realize that knowing the simple, fantastic history of this sport, it’s exciting present and it’s unknown future are all we require, rather than outrageous jingoism and general boring stupidity.  That’s what you’d get from JD.  That’s what we deserve.

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What is the Future of the NHL Network?

First of all, anyone wanna send me a JPEG of the new NHL Net logo?  Thanks, if possible.

On to business, John Ourand of Sports Business Daily has a fantastic piece on the four major sports leagues and their networks.  Here’s the NHL Net piece:

With 56 games on its schedule, NHL Network already depends much more on live games than other league-owned networks. As its TV deals with Versus and NBC come up in 2011, expect the league to put even more games on the network.

“In terms of games, the network has huge growth potential and is strategically important in terms of how our media mix and how we ultimately serve the fan,” said the league’s chief operating officer, John Collins. “I can see its role growing and its importance growing as we begin to think about what role the NHL Network plays in the next big rights negotiation for us.”

One of the reasons the NHL depends on NHL Network for live games, highlights and preview shows is to give its viewers content that is in short supply elsewhere on TV.

“As of right now, we think the NHL is not getting its fair representation in the broader world of sports,” Collins said.

In addition to live games, Collins expects to bolster that programming with highlights and inside access that networks don’t have. He expects the better programming will play a part in helping the network expand its cable and satellite distribution footprint.

“Our longer-term plan is to get that network as broadly distributed as we can and really deliver on the promise of serving these fans, primarily with access,” Collins said. “It’s live game content, but it’s also access that they can’t get anywhere else.

Look at it this way, folks.  Any improvements the NHL wants to make to it’s own cable channel that will lead it to getting better distribution and more coverage is good for the fans, for us.  I hope the network is serious about getting better, because beyond more games, a lot of this sounds pretty vague.

What do you see on the NHL Net in 5 years?

Even Battle of the Blades Has the Cheesy “Injury Keeps People From Deciding A Winner That Week”

As a result of a back injury sustained earlier today, Marie-France Dubreuil was unable to skate in the scheduled Monday night skate-off on BATTLE OF THE BLADES. Judge Sandra Bezic declared all remaining three pairs safe for this week, leaving the decision to Canadians to decide next week which pair will win $100,000 for the charity of their choice.

“We felt, and the skaters agreed, that no one wanted to win this competition by default,” says Bezic. “We’re relieved that Marie-France’s injuries may allow her to skate next week. Our primary concern is for the safety of our skaters and we believe this is the fairest way to determine a winner.”

Before the judging panel made its decision, it was revealed that the two pairs with the fewest votes in the sixth week of competition were Dubreuil and Stéphane Richer along with Jamie Salé and Craig Simpson. However, instead of the usual skate-off, Salé and Simpson as well as Shae-Lynn Bourne and Claude Lemieux performed their programs for exhibition only.

 

The three pairs competing in the final week of the show on Sunday, November 15 are: Shae-Lynn Bourne and Claude Lemieux, Marie-France Dubreuil and Stéphane Richer, Jamie Salé and Craig Simpson.

 

Viewers can learn more about the competitors at www.cbc.ca/battle, the official online portal for the series and the source for everything about BATTLE OF THE BLADES. In addition to videos and behind-the-scene photos, the site offers viewers the opportunity to become fans of their favourite pair and track each participant’s activity as they strive to be the final pair remaining at the end of the series.

BATTLE OF THE BLADES is the brainchild of Kevin Albrecht with development by Sandra Bezic. BATTLE OF THE BLADES executive producers are John Brunton, Barbara Bowlby and Kevin Albrecht. It is produced by Insight Productions in association with CBC Television.

Boston-Detroit Ratings

John Ourand’s Twitter reports that VERSUS’ broadcast of Tuesday’s Boston Bruins/Detroit Red Wings game drew 371,000 viewers.

And now, L’il Wayne in Kings Colors

Here’s acclaimed rapper/wannabe rocker L’il Wayne in a tale of why the Kings should make their third jersey colors the first step to a permanent transition back to black and silver.

Puck the Media’s Tuesday Mailbag: On Sports Jobs and Chris Simpson

Where the hell did Chris Simpson from Versus go this year?

MSWelcome once again to the Tuesday Media Mailbag.  Our first piece of business comes to us from Eric Roitman, editor of 5hole.com.  He found this glorious thing:

SDC11072.JPG

Hey Steve,

I was riding the subway to school this morning and saw some ads for the upcoming Versus show, “Sports Jobs.”  Here are some pictures of the ad.

The tagline: Making sports work is no easy job.  I think it’s funny that they couldn’t get a more recognizable retired athlete.  I hope he wears his jersey at all times on the show.

Eric Roitman
Editor, 5-hole.com

Thank you guys for this.

To be honest, we don’t hate the idea of Sports Jobs.  It’s just that VERSUS can’ really promote the original series as well as it does hockey and PBR and other sports.

From the “Hey, cool!” files, Emily Bennett has a piece on a new Washington Caps sponsor:

Hi Steve,

You were looking for Mailbag items Monday nite, and we have one over at Japers’ Rink.

The Capitals’ most interesting new in-game advertiser this year has been the Nuclear Energy Institute, who announced their corporate partnership with the Caps in September, and thenblogged about it.

Radio Ad #1 – Pond Hockey

Radio Ad #2 – MD & VA

All of this info is linked at their website.

They are clearly quite pleased with their sponsorship, and keep a close eye on who they are reaching with their message(denounced by Greenpeace!), as they blogged about it again in October.  And yes, they take note of the TV ratings. Plus they have their own YouTube channel.

Even the Toronto media took notice.

And being goofy nuclear geeks who like to deal in quantifiable facts, they have now conducted a survey of dasherboard advertising around the League.  They even posted the raw datafor us, with links.

That is a lot of time and energy (sorry, heehee) invested in this ad campaign, and it seems to me they are using many of the same tools that Ted Leonsis does, first buying the ad space and then adding value by promoting it themselves through social and other media.

Plus, I can tell that at least one guy at NEI is passionate about hockey, and it really shines through.

Anyway, my Caps are playing your Devils tonight. Normally I’d wish your team good luck, but tonight, not so much.  I do enjoy reading Puck the Media though, and thanks for taking the time to do it!

Regards,

Emily
“Your Nation’s Capital”

Thanks a ton for sending that in, Emily.  We’ve seen a few e-mails come our way about this, and weren’t quite sure how to articulate on it.  You’ve succeeded thoroughly where I couldn’t.

Mailbag regular Ken Fang, you’re up:

I’ll give a question, Steve.  Should the NHL Network be airing the 2nd game of the Hockey Night in Canada doubleheader live?

Yes, 100%.  The 2nd game of the HNIC doubleheader is probably as less popular in America as it is in Canada, but it should still be there.  Frankly, I think NHL viewers would rather watch games than highlights on a Saturday night.  I think NHL Network should only do a “Final” edition of On the Fly, and take the night off in both countries.

But make that edition of On the Fly really good.  Two hours long, a host and three analysts (Say Brian Duff, Denis Potvin, Mark Osborne and Dave Reid) break down everything and discuss various NHL related topics.  It could be pretty great.  I’d think after a night of Don Cherry and Glenn Healy, some sane and level-headed thinking would be a great way to cap the night off.

Here’s a pretty simple E-mail:

Where the hell did Chris Simpson from Versus go this year?

MS

We’re not entirely sure.  We assume she is still with NHL Net in some capacity, though those “Captains” episodes have stopped airing.  Can anyone help here?  She was, in fact, let go by VERSUS, by the way.

Al Ibrahim has a VERSUS-related complaint:

Steve,

Can you or some NHL media contact find out what the hell Versus is doing? They’re the cable home of the NHL but you don’t see anything hockey-related except for 1 or 2 times a week they broadcast a game. They also never televise a doubleheader. It’s a surprise when they more carry than 1 game a night.

ESPN’s coverage before the lockout was decent, NHL2Night was great, there were tons of highlights we even had a weekly NHL show w/ Cool Shots. Cool Shots was like what Inside Stuff is to the NBA. We got all those off-the-ice player features in a nice format.

Where is Versus w/ this stuff? We have 1 or 2 games per week, a 30-minute post-game show and that’s it for the regular season. In the playoffs, they at-least give us doubleheaders! They need to add either a 3rd game night or a daily highlights show. I would prefer the nightly recap show like NHL2Night but I’ll take any new NHL programming not Junior Seau being an equipment guy for one day on his own show.

And finally Versus is not winning this pissing contest w/ DirecTV right now. Their flagship property, the NHL, isn’t worth anything to casual sports fans who really don’t watch hockey a lot except for the All-Star Game and Playoffs.

-Al

Our take on this is here.   VERSUS, as always, needs to put more hockey on the schedule.

If you or someone you know would like to be a part of the Tuesday mailbag, please e-mail us at SMLepore@comcast.net or find us on Twitter.

This Week’s HNIC Ratings

Hockey Tonight up, 2nd game continues steady drop.

Saturday, Nov. 7
6:30
HNIC Pre-Game 1.014 Million
7:00 DET vs. TOR OR NJ vs. OTT OR TB vs. MTL 1.964 Million
10:00 NY Rangers vs. Calgary 877,000 Viewers
Game Average: 1,420,500 Viewers

For HNIC’s Season-to-date numbers, head past the jump:
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New Music Tuesday