The Case For Kevin Weekes

When I appeared on Kurtenblog Radio a couple of months ago, I told them I enjoyed Kevin Weekes’ performance on Hockey Night in Canada.  They thought I was nuts, however, I defended him.  I stated that he could get better, and that he was a fresh shot in the arm for hockey players-turned-analysts.

I still believe this, but feel the need to reiterate the point after Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun took a lazy, needless shot at Weekes in his Sunday column:

What seemed like a very good idea at the time isn’t: Kevin Weekes on Hockey Night In Canada.

Other examples of fantastic prose in the column: “Dep’t of tiresome: Mike Tyson Cameos”.  Simply astonishing.  Well, regardless of what Simmons says, Weekes is doing just fine on Hockey Night in Canada, and Mike Tyson cameos in TV and movies have yet to cease to be very funny.

Why is Weekes getting this criticism in his first season?  Give him a chance to develop as an analyst.  The guy essentially passed on a chance to play in Europe and work his way back to the NHL so he could join the ranks of TV.  Usually, the NHL has such problems keeping it’s analysts from returning to the game.

Sometimes, especially in his appearances on the NHL Network, Weekes can borderline on cheesey, overly wordy nicknames.  Then again, with all nicknames, they’re hit or miss.  I’m just thankful that someone on that show has decided it’s not their job to inject you with Xanax, but instead have the gall to attempt to entertain you.

Another mild criticism of Weekes is that he tends to repeat what his play-by-play man just set him up with.  This also tends to happen when he’s reading a graphic.  But all analysts have this problem.  Kevin Weekes is a long, long way from the bottom of the HNIC totem pole.  What about Guy Carbonneau?  Greg Millen?  PJ Stock?  There’s three less essential people to the entire shebang right there.  Why isn’t Simmons filling out column space taking potshots at them?

Look, you won’t find any color analyst who exudes charm like Weekes.  He is engaged, affable and at times very funny.  He still hasn’t gotten to a point where he’s saying insightful, innovative things week in and week out, but you can’t listen to him and see no way of him becoming a top-flight analyst.  In fact, I’d argue if he improves over the next few years, he’d have an American network job immediately.  I’m shocked he wasn’t given a shot by one this year, however, it’s clear Weekes was savvy enough to know that HNIC and NHL Net were where he could learn.

The simple fact is that Weekes needs more time to develop his skills as a color commentator.  Give him over the summer to work on it.  I know from taking courses in TV and calling basketball games for the past three years, it takes time to develop a facade where you’re being natural and comfortable doing the job, both in studio and on site.  I feel that criticism like Simmons – of the yawnworthy and “Hey, I’ll get someone to talk about this if I just write it in passing!” nature – do no good to anyone.


About Steve Lepore
Contact me at

6 Responses to The Case For Kevin Weekes

  1. Is there any doubt that Roenick and Weeks would be a serious upgrade over McGuire and Milbury on NBC? Any at all?

  2. Chris says:

    If anyone has watched TSN The Reporters w/ Dave Hodge, where that windbag Steve Simmons is a regular, you’ll realize the lack of intelligence he has. I really enjoy Kevin Weekes on HNIC, and on On The Fly, he’s doing a great job. He shouldn’t let an arrogant asshole like Steve Simmons take his confidence down.

  3. Josh says:

    “I’m shocked he wasn’t given a shot by one this year, however, it’s clear Weekes was savvy enough to know that HNIC and NHL Net were where he could learn.”

    Steve, you say this as though it’s a given to everyone that the American network jobs are the gold-plated, plum hockey broadcasting jobs that everyone aspires to. But are they? It’s a genuine question. Do we know where there’s more money? Is Jim Hughson cashing bigger paycheques from CBC than Mike Emrick is from Versus or NBC (or for that matter, from Versus and NBC combined)? And does the late game on CBC attract more eyeballs week in, week out, than, say, the Monday night Versus games do? These are all genuine questions, I don’t know the answers.

    I can see how someone taking, say, a job broadcasting Blue Jays or Raptors games would be ultimately aiming much higher than that, but the Leafs on Saturday night? For a kid from Toronto like Weekes, that’s what he grew up watching on Saturday nights – I’d say if he has his eyes on a bigger prize, it might be the roles that Craig Simpson or Don Cherry occupy at the moment, and not necessarily 10 Sunday afternoons a year on NBC, unless he fancies working 6935 nights a year like McGuire.

    You often complain about various biases from the Canadian hockey media. I think this might be a case of your American bias showing, Steve.

    • stevelepore says:

      Josh, you make a very point, and perhaps I was wrong to assume that Weekesy would want to “move up” by going to America. But you can’t deny his desire to expose himself a ton and get better.

  4. Peter Lynn says:

    I’m going to say this in the most heterosexual way possible (in fact, my girlfriend is the one who noticed it — immediately): It’s something that may have gone unnoticed all those years that he was hidden under a goalie mask, but Kevin Weekes is a surprisingly handsome man. Having such telegenic good looks can only aid his career as he develops as an analyst, particularly in comparison to some of the other pug-ugly (and perhaps jealous) talking heads out there.

  5. Josh says:

    One other point to make about this (and it’s not one that I condone), but being black and working in hockey is tough – listen to some of the tales that black players who’ve come out of Canadian junior leagues have to tell, and that becomes obvious. But being black and on Hockey Night in Canada? It’s uncharted territory, to be honest. I’m not saying the guy is Jackie Robinson (or even Willie O’Ree), but he’s got forces working against him.

    When I was in journalism school, one of my profs was an ex-producer of The National – the CBC’s flagship national newscast, and during the years that he was there, one of the substitute anchors for it was a guy named Ian Hanomansing (probably familiar to a lot of your Canadian readers), who is very much a member of a visible minority group. This is paraphrasing, but my prof went on about it at some length, saying things like, “You think this is a tolerant, warm, fuzzy country, from coast-to-coast? You should have *read* some of the comments that would come in when Ian Hanomansing would anchor The National. From Saskatchewan, or Newfoundland, PEI or wherever – I can’t even repeat the language that these people would use.”

    You’ve gotta think that the people watching the national news on CBC are, in general, more worldly and aware than the people watching HNIC. I cringe (and weep a bit for my country) when I think about what kind ignorant, bigoted feedback CBC management must be getting from some viewers about Kevin Weekes being on HNIC. (And working a lot of *Alberta* games, to boot!)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: