Coulda Shoulda Woulda’s Aside… MSNBC Does Fantastic Job Presenting Best Game in Years

NBC made a massive, egregious mistake in not airing the USA-Canada hockey showdown.  It was a game of a lifetime.  The best showcase of the sport for Americans in years and years and years, certainly one of the best in my young life.  In the afternoon, I’m gonna’ post some Tweets from some hockey and non-hockey folks who had praise for this game, and they’ll back me up.

Let’s all breathe for a second… Holy crap.  What a game.

Now, moving on.  To the coverage, considering NBC deferred to the cable network MSNBC (hopefully we’ll all know how many watched today or tomorrow) which likely just aired the biggest non-election event in it’s history.  They covered this game wonderfully, like how you’d wish NBC or VERSUS would.  Like how the NHL Network does, and like we – as fans – deserve.  45 minutes of pre-game, plus bonus coverage before that on MSNBC with interviews featuring Buzz Schneider and Herb Brooks’ son.

The post-game was no different.  Mike Eruzione, Mike Milbury, Eddie Olczyk, Jeremy Roenick and Gary Bettman all appeared on the cable channel to discuss what had just happened.  Reporters in the middle of the action.  While the anchor hosting the coverage went a little overboard on it being the biggest American win since 1980 (1996 or 2002 more likely) the upset was put into excellent perspective.

Let’s face it, NBC doesn’t give this kind of coverage.  NBC doesn’t air this game live in every time zone, as they proved with the likely mishandling of a great Russia-Czech Republic tilt earlier in the day.  NBC made the right choice in giving this epic match to cable.  The 3rd period probably should of aired on both networks (and apparently some of it did show on the main Peacock), but giving the entire thing to MSNBC was 100% the correct decision.

When it came down to calling the game, I think it’s time NBC end the three man booth for it’s hockey coverage.  Both the Pens-Caps game and last night’s showdown were proof that it either needs to be Emrick-Olczyk or Emrick-McGuire.  Without McGuire, who’s been kind of annoying (even for his standards) during this tourney, and with an absolutely gorgeous picture to paint, Emrick and Olczyk shone like Olympic gold.

Emrick was allowed to not be bothered by two voices cutting into to his excellent handling on the english language.  He himself was improved from a silly blunder earlier in the day when he asked Pierre McGuire what language the Russians and Czechs were speaking on the benches.  That’s a better question for an NHL game, really, and Doc should know better.

Emrick’s call was even handed up until Ryan Kesler’s empty netter, in which the Hall of Famer reached for one last pummeling yell, seemingly telling the viewers emphatically this was it.  Also, Kesler’s goal was one of the sickest things I’ve ever seen.  Even at the end, Emrick refused to go for hyperbole, simply stating that “[Team USA] have won the table!”.

Olczyk did a great job as well.  He can tend to overstate the obvious at times, but he did yeoman’s work talking a good game, but not keeping it over the heads of the people who hadn’t watched before, something the NBC teams have had a rough grasp of so far.  He too is American, and he was able to keep things fair and balanced on a network that isn’t necessarily known for it.

There have been dozens of simple mistakes made by the networks of NBC Universal in the first week of Olympic hockey, maybe hundreds.  But for one night, and three-plus hours, everything aligned for Team USA and the broadcasters who followed them.


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10 Responses to Coulda Shoulda Woulda’s Aside… MSNBC Does Fantastic Job Presenting Best Game in Years

  1. kevin says:

    NBC did pick up the game with about 30 seconds left which was pretty lame if you ask me. The MSNBC coverage was excellent, however. No more curling intros and the post game analysis was great even if their talking head was pretty much clueless about the sport of hockey.

  2. Ian Kidd says:

    Agree with you Kevin — the post-game host (Willie Geist) had no idea what he was talking about. Spewed every hockey cliche he could in an effort to sound credible, but it fell flat.

    Thought Bettman was great in the post-game interview on MSNBC — not defensive, not condescending, just stated the facts and explained why this is such a touch issue for the NHL.

  3. Ian Kidd says:

    Agree with you Kevin — the post-game host (Willie Geist) had no idea what he was talking about. Spewed every hockey cliche he could in an effort to sound credible, but it fell flat.

    Thought Bettman was great in the post-game interview on MSNBC — not defensive, not condescending, just stated the facts and explained why this is such a tough issue for the NHL.

  4. Not sure I buy your argument that it was better to put on MSNBC. I would suggest you look at ratings for NBC and MSNBC for the same time periods and reconsider that assertion. The raw audience numbers have to have been higher for NBC (it’s an over the air broadcast network), even though MSNBC had the more exciting programming.

    Geist was not good – and it seemed like (MS)NBC cobbled together that 30 minute postgame at the last second and then replayed it again and again until the Sweden game started. Highlights, Eurizione, SI writer, Bettman…rinse, repeat.

    Bettman’s participation was just odd. I’m glad that he at least was smart enough to take a moment and celebrate the tournament that was under way before spending the rest of the time outlining the plusses and minuses of shutting down in 2014. Honestly, discussion of Sochi should have been minimized and discussion of the NHL and THIS tournament maximized. Geist did not do that. (I’m also intrigued that Bettman didn’t gnaw on NBC a little for not putting his league on the big network…guess he’s too genteel to air that laundry in public.)

    I’m still back at the core question: Does NBC really give a damn about broadcasting hockey? Olympic, NHL, doesn’t matter…do they care? You’d think in a pure profit-sharing agreement like they have, they’d shoot for the moon. Instead, they push hockey into a corner and let it satisfy the few (diehard) fans that they already have.

    Don’t get me wrong, it was a hell of a game and the announcers did a good job. As a marquee game, however, it just should have been seen by many, many more people.

  5. kevin says:

    Should have played the game at 3 pm then it would have been on NBC. Basically Canada is dictating these start times. It’s pretty obvious. If the game was on NBC it would have been endless cut ins for figure skating and bobsledding. Figure skating will always out draw hockey on TV. Millions of women will watch skating. Millions of men will not do the same for hockey. So put the games where they will be left for hockey fans to enjoy

  6. DyHrdMET says:

    Lots to say on a very big day (did anyone stay up to see the nightcap?).

    Best thing NBC could have done was to air the game live to both coasts at 7:30pm, but that was really impossible. MSNBC (or a similar cable channel with NBC’s production stamp on it) was the next best thing. That being said, it could have been a huge showcase for the sport, and by association, the NHL, to have the game seen by as many viewers as possible.

    Doc was the gold standard (pardon the pun) for these Olympics. Much better than the mistake that ESPN/ABC made on their NHL coverage (Gary Thorne butchered the calls on both Canada’s Gold in 2002 for NBC and the Devils’ Cup in 2003 for ABC, so I’m always glad to have Doc in the driver’s seat). He set up his game ending line very well (“they ran the table”), and we know from past Cup finals and other memorable games that you don’t always get to use that line. And his call on the winning goal had so much emotion (I hope NBC was showing the game by then), more than I’ve ever heard from him.

    I wish I knew about MSNBC’s pregame show. I turned to Curling and dinner between the hockey games. MSNBC’s postgame show would have been better served by the actual hockey people in the arena, associated with the sport of Hockey in some way, and maybe talking to the two guests (how does Mike Eruzione end up commenting on every Olympics?) I wish I had switched to NBC’s postgame that was described above (I got there just as Bob Costas was saying that they’ll go back to the Bobslded that they cut away from later on), or at the very least, MSNBC showing it.

    I’ve grown tired of Eddie Olczyk. He’s probably better than I think he is, but John Davidson set the standard really high and he’s missed in these big hockey events. And Pierre McGuire is over-hyped and wasn’t missed on the telecast.

    Who has the rights to re-air the game after the Olympics since it really is an “instant classic” and the type of game that deserves to be shown for years to come.

  7. kevin says:

    Actually, the “hockey writer” that MSNBC had on seemed kinda clueless as well. However, Bettman was pretty good. He said this game was much like a Stanley Cup playoffs game and he is right. Only difference is playoff games are more competitive. The USA was getting schooled for long stretches of play. The NHL is more “competitive” than Olympic hockey which is a good thing

  8. Given my druthers, Gary Thorne and Bill Clement would be calling every game, ever. But Emrick and Eddie O. did a good job last night. They’re not my faves, but they deserve credit for calling a good game.

    Who’s Pierre McGuire? 😉

    Agreed, Kevin – a 3PM start would have been fantastic. Would have just about taken the NBC “NHL Game of the Week” slot. But that would have been logical, and what’s logical when you bump USA-Canada for faux aboriginal Russian ice dancers?

  9. nosferatu says:

    The postgame coverage was very odd. Where did the studio crew go? I know it’s a long day and they needed a break, but there were two hours between games. I’d much rather have had Bill Patrick giving highlights and talking with J.R. and Milbury than “Willie” going through things and talking with Eruzione. And though Willie handled it as well as he could have, the technical difficulties with the delay in talking to people at the arena was ridiculous.

    It certainly didn’t affect a great game telecast, but these decisions made no sense to me.

    And, on a hugely positive note, NO COMMERCIALS cutting into action! That was truly fabulous, and I hope they continue this for all big games going forward.

  10. Justin says:

    I only complain because the MSNBC feed on DirecTV is Standard Def where the NBC or even CNBC feed would have been HD. Other than that great game and everyone did a great job on the game itself.

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