Let’s All Say It Together: Hotstove Isn’t Any Fun to Watch Anymore
November 30, 2009 6 Comments
It was always an often pseudo-belief of mine that American hockey fans are oddly drawn to Hockey Night in Canada due to it’s fantastic presentation of the sport, legendary voices, and the idea that a 70-year old white man will rant about a sport played by 20-and 30-year olds in jingoistic, barely coherent fashion. There is a natural curiosity in all of us about Canada’s weekly hockey showcase, and it’s driven by the variety the show gives you. It’s not just idiots barking at a desk.
The closest Hockey Night used to get to guys talking at a desk was the Satellite Hotstove segment. It used to be composed of three well-connected, occasionally controversial writers discussing trade rumors and finances of the game type stuff. On the surface, it could seem like something to take a snack break on. But I’ve often felt that many American viewers (and younger Canadian viewers) show up for Hockey Night for Don Cherry, but stay because of Hotstove. It was a genuinely good natured, and occasionally highly informative segment.
However, things started to go bad last season, when Mike Milbury was hired to be a part of the regular panel. Not only would Mad Mike’s status as a non-writer take away a spot from a more well-reasoned person like Scott Morrisonn or others of the ilk… c’mon, it’s Mike freaking Milbury! What other reason do you need to dislike this move?
Milbury, instead of using his connections as a long-termed GM to try and bring a new perspective on Hotstove’s rumors and relocation talk format, has instead used it as his own personal bully pulpit. However, it was always usually as defensable as harmless, jingoistic idiocy up until now (Remember how much of a non-story “pansification” ended up being?).
However, Hotstove has taken an extreme turn for the worse. In the past two weeks, the third member of the panel (Besides Milbury and the typically levelheaded and intelligent Pierre LeBrun) has been Ian Pulver. During the NHLPA’s Goodenow administration, Pulver was an associate council to the PA. He also runs Pulver Sports Agency. Oh, hey, an agent who worked under Goodenow, during the period in which players gave NHL GM’s migraines with their increased salary demands. Hey, Mike Milbury was a GM during that period. Oh, boy, I bet he sure doesn’t care for Ian Pulver.
By watching that video clip, you all know the rest. The last two weeks of Hotstove have been akin to torture porn movies. It’s been endless bickering. Pulver, who I’m sure is a smart, savvy businessman – comes across as a bumbler and a comic foil to Milbury’s bullying, even more than Al Strachan did before he was fired. While Pulver mostly let Mad Mike beat him up the week before, he was firing back this time. Honestly, it was hard to tell what they were arguing about at a certain point.
Hotstove is clearly lost. I hope other writers pick up this cause, because something needs to be done about this segment. If you want to have Mike Milbury analyze hockey games and do studio work, that’s fine. But if he’s being groomed into the Don Cherry role, do not give him a punching bag that will lead to more shrill, whiny, jingoistic yelling. It’s ruining the classic allure of Hockey Night. It’s supposed to be hockey coverage with something different thrown in at every break. Now, it’s just old men yelling at me, and I don’t like it one bit.