The NHL Awards ceremony shown – eventually – on Versus, went off without a hitch without Stompin’ Tom Connors showing America what he does best. I was pretty upset, his performance being the single reason I tuned in at all. OK, that isn’t completely true. I tuned in because there is no hockey action, other than Playstation and what I am playing on Monday nights here in Tampa (breaking news: I suck, but I have a wicked backhand). While I’m looking forward to having a little downtime and recharging the blogging batteries, if there is something hockey realated on – other than another half hour special about Sidney Crosby – I’m going to watch it.
Frankly, the NHL should recognize that by putting on a show that doesn’t blow. I know, it’s an awards show, and it isn’t what these guys are good at. They aren’t actors, and they shouldn’t be expected to be exciting and entertaining in this forum. But damn it, how many of these things are we going to watch if they keep turning out to be crap like this? Want to see what an awards show really looks like? Tune in to the Tony Awards Sunday. They know how to put on a show. Watch as they showcase the Musicals that are up for awards, without being dull, unfunny, or over-wrought with what doesn’t matter. Oh, and for an industry that is firmly planted in “flash and trash” entertainment, they can show you the highlights without ruining them with overused effects and crappy video editing.
Fine, let’s put our money where out mouth is. Let’s improve the NHL Awards.
First, what to cut:
The Kids: Look, if you want to keep the kids who are giving the awards to the players, fine, they are kind of fun. And by kind of, I mean that they are great for the atmosphere, but nothing else. I don’t care what they have to say, I don’t need to see them read a teleprompter (painful), and I certainly don’t need to see them struggle through a highlight reel introduction. And by the way, whoever wrote those introductions should be shot. Either that, or sent to Upper Deck to write the ass kissing that you find on the back of a hockey card. Back to the kids, we do not need to talk to them. Remember the old adage, children should be seen not heard at awards shows? Exactly. If I need to find out anything interesting about the kids, I’ll know when they are elegeble for the draft.
Comedy: If you want to be funny, then be funny. I am all for some comedy at the awards, but please, have a professional do it. Not Ron McLean, who is only funny when Don Cherry is ripping on him. Rules of the trade, do not make the straight man do the job of the funny guy. The obvious choice here is Stephen Colbert, and after that, find some comedians who love hockey. American Hockey Fan could help in this regard. Hell, I wrote a few zingers for last years awards ceremony, and with the endless silliness that NHL players provide each season, there should be plenty to riff on, or make skits out of. The “jokes” were atrocious, and I think I deserve better.
Presenters: Just make it simple. Players, former players, current and former coaches, and broadcasters. People we can all recognize. Don’t put television actors that half you audience don’t know. And either have some dignity, or go completely the other way. Want to generate buzz? Make Sean Avery hand out the Vezina. There, I just doubled the ratings. And by the way, if you want to have Cammi Granato present an award, I am all for it. I think she absolutely rocks. But spend a couple of bucks and get her a nice dress. She deserves better.
Lifetime Achievement Award: This was a nice touch, and really, is there a more deserving guy than Gordie Howe? But the presentation was garbage. The whole thing took about two minutes longer than it should have, and everyone was talking to Gordie, telling him about his accomplishments. Don’t tell him, he knows what he did. Tell us. You can tell him how much you appreciate his career and accomplishments, but tell us about why he is getting the award. It’s semantics, but it’s important. Hey, while you are at it, you don’t make Gordie Howe wait to address the hockey nation. You just plain don’t. It’s disrespectful to a guy that you are honoring. He should be allowed to sit in his seat and bask in the glory, then after you go through the rundown and congratulations, he comes up to the stage and gives his speech. This was an uncomfortable way of doing things.
Great, now with what to add:
Skits: Look, a short skit or two, done well, wouldn’t kill anyone. Live humor may not go over well (case in point, tonight), but a few well produced gags could go a long way to lighten things up, and make for a more entertaining evening.
Take it outside the theater: Did anything look more claustrophobic than that stuffy theater? It looked cold, small, and uncomfortable. How about a few interviews with hockey personalities or stars about hockey? If the NHL is going to pimp stars writing blogs, why not talk to them about their favorite awards nominee? See, simple, entertaining, and gets us away from the theater while still celebrating the game and the players. Hey, Mike Myers is handing the NHL all the promotion it can stand right now. Where is the capitalization?
Award Descriptions: This isn’t a show for the casual fan, but if any were tuning in, they probably don’t know what the awards are, and after that show, they probably still don’t. Just say what the award is for, as in:
The Lady Byng award for the player least like Sean Avery.
The Norris Award, for the defenseman with the most points.
The Vezina, for Martin Brodeur, whether he deserves it or not.
Spell Check: Lindstrom? Really? The NHL misspells the name of an award recipient on the back of a jersey? There is no excuse. It’s an embarrassment, and someone should get their asses handed to them. How many people saw and handled that jersey before it made it to the stage? I’ve seen breakdowns like that in theater before, but this is really pushing it. Want to see what I mean? Check out this post from the HLOG for the photo evidence.
This was just off the top of my head. These guys have had months to plan this thing, and this was all they did.
Perhaps you think I am being a little harsh. After all, this isn’t an organization that is used to producing televised entertainment on a regular basis. Wait, they aren’t a group who has ever done an awards show before. Oh, never mind.
NHL, do a better job next year. Versus, put it on the air on time. That is all.