NHL Network Gets U.S. Coverage Right at World Juniors

I was pretty apprehensive about jumping in full throttle to the World Junior Championships this year.  Playing the stupid American card, I can’t say I’ve ever really watched the tournament before.  That said, I’ll give anything that throws live, marathon, televised hockey my way, so why not watch?

The TSN coverage feels very “Yeah, we’ve done this thing a million times.  We got this.”  if that makes any sense.  Dave Randorf’s voice gets on my nerves, but he does the job asked of him.  Dave Reid is nondescript, but inoffensive.  James Duthie and Bob McKenzie are always the most fun of any hockey studio duo this side of MacLean/Cherry.  Gord Miller and Pierre McGuire were pretty bearable in their coverage of Team Canada, honestly.  I say that because there are criticisms of the way they call these games.  I have to say, for a 16-0 rout of Latvia, they weren’t everything they were cracked up to be.  I’ll keep an eye on it throughout.

On to the NHL Network coverage, with “Voice of America” JP Dellacamera (based on all the U.S. soccer and now hockey he’s doing) replacing the unavailable Gary Thorne on play-by-play, Dave Starman as analyst and reporter Fred Pletsch.  Dellacamera’s more soccer-friendly style of calling hockey takes time getting used to, but he’s an enjoyable listen at all times.  Easygoing, funny and genuinely into the game, plus he didn’t use his “my cat just died” voice when the other team scored, as he was prone to when working as the play-by-play man for the Atlanta Thrashers.

Starman is returning for his second consecutive year calling WJC games on NHL Network.  He is a member of USA Hockey’s Coaching Education program, and you can tell, he breaks the game down very much like a coach does.  However, he does an okay job of explaining both strategy and the importance of this tourney.  In fact, kudos to NHL Net all around for doing a good job of showing off why the World Juniors are considered so important through graphics, as well as interviews with former World Junior participants.

Also, great job by NHL Network for making the essentially three-man show intermission reports infotaining.  On the other hand, a negative would be the awkward combination of NHL Network’s score display and what is essentially TSN’s graphics, it gets a little odd at times.  Also, Fred Pletsch mispronouncing U.S. forward Derek Stepan’s name is bothersome at times, but only shows up intermediately.  Overall, a great job so far by NHL Network taking on a tournament that most Americans are pretty foreign to.


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