We’re nearly two weeks into the annual tournament of endless madness that is the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It’s been an excellent first round — really, the combined insanity of the NBA and Stanley Cup Playoffs has made for as good a two weeks in sports as I can remember — and there’s obviously a lot of television coverage to look over. The NHL is a special challenge, because you have to review two different countries.
That said, I’ve seen a lot of NBC’s work (I mean, enough that we did this), and plenty of CBC and TSN’s. Let’s look at some good things and bad things that all of the networks have done so far.
Good: Gord Miller. The well-known voice of hockey on TSN is like the Gus Johnson of Canada. He’s never the main guy working the Final, but he’s usually the guy whose calls you’ll most remember. Miller has worked games both for TSN and NBCSN in the first round, to the point where I’m not completely sure he’s taken a day off.
That said, when Miller isn’t being combative with the advanced statistics community on Twitter, he calls an excellent game. His work on Game 6 of Ducks-Stars Sunday night was as much as I’ve enjoyed a play-by-play call of a hockey game this year. He was funny, informative, authoritative (calling Corey Perry one of the “sneakiest, dirtiest” skill players in hockey will win him many Western Conference friends) and brought the energy. I can’t imagine NBC won’t bring him more work next season with the league abandoning TSN, and I can’t say I’ll be complaining.
Bad: Glenn Healy. I think Glenn Healy has a place in hockey television. He’s a man with intimate knowledge of how the game works, from both a player’s perspective and union executive’s perspective. There is surely a way for him to provide his expertise somewhere on television in an informative way.
However, Healy’s current role on Hockey Night in Canada appears to just be pulling things out of his ass. He literally made determinations on how he thought a game would play out based on B-roll footage of players walking into the rink. That is some Baylessian schtick, man.
Healy is also one of the biggest proponents of “watching the game” as if it precludes doing any further research on the sport. CBC has been no stranger to controversy with the kerfuffle Ron MacLean’s gotten himself into this postseason. In a way, it’s covered up the true inefficiency of their studio show: having anyone other than Elliotte Friedman sound conscious of what they’re actually saying.
Good: Randy Hahn and Drew Remenda. Here’s a tricky spot to be in. Hahn and Remenda are the regular crew for Sharks telecast on CSN California. As they have in the past, NBCSN has picked up their feed for every game of the Sharks’ first round series, this time against the Los Angeles Kings.
To their credit, Hahn and Remenda have seemed aware of this. Hahn’s usually highly boisterous goal calls sound like they’ve been toned down a bit, whether consciously or not. Remenda worked in between the benches for Games 3 and 4 in Los Angeles, something he’s rarely, if ever, done on a regional telecast.
They have, for what they’ve been tasked with doing, done a heck of a job keeping it pretty even.
Bad: That NBC seems to be trying to have it both ways with Randy Hahn and Drew Remenda. Look, the NHL is not the NBA in terms of playoff scheduling. You’re going to have 3-4 games a night as the norm rather than the 2-3 the NBA schedule. Having a crew at all eight playoff series is a mighty haul.
That said, NBCSN has picked up the CBC feed in each of the past three seasons to cover parts or all of various series. CBC is covering the Kings/Sharks series. When there’s a national feed available, why is NBCSN giving us regional coverage?