Hey Versus, Goals Were Scored, Can We See Them?

From Bob Harwood of Versus at the top of the postgame show:

In fact, there are so many goals we can’t show them all.

And this quote is why I am sick of the NHL on Versus.  The worst hockey highlights this side of ESPN Sportcenter.

No, instead of showing you goals, we are going to have an interview with Ryan Smyth.  And we won’t even ask him anything interesting like what he said to the ref that got him sent back in the box for the second Wild power play goal.

6-5 Avs.  Over the Wild.  That’s like a Nashville – Islanders score.  The new NHL lives on.

NHL Awards Ceremony: Well, That was Crap.

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.

or

The Norris Award, for the defenseman with the most points.

or

The Vezina, for Martin Brodeur, whether he deserves it or not.

Something.

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.

Can the NHL and Versus do Anything Right?

It’s 7:03 PM, and I, like at least seven other many people across America, an I’m watching the Draft Lottery on Versus.

Simply put, what the hell is going on? This isn’t even the CBC, it’s TSN.

7:05 PM and we now have the correct feed, too late to see Stompin’ Tom Connors.

I’m so damn mad at Versus right now. Is it too much to ask that Versus either looks at what it’s broadcasting? It’s a slap in the face to hockey fans in America. Canadian hockey fans, don’t blame the fans, we have idiots in charge of the broadcasts.

I’m sure there is going to be some kind of explanation that makes sense, other than someone being an idiot.

A request, Canadian hockey fans. Someone put Stompin Tom on YouTube. We deserve to see it.

What the Hell is This?

I just clicked on to the Versus Accuscore page, and was greeted by this:

Screenshot 02-10

What the heck am I looking at here? Fight percentage? Versus sure does like it’s cage matches.

Live Blogging the Skills Competition, Rebroadcast Edition

It may be dumb, but there is only so much opportunity I get these days to liveblog a hockey game, and I was running a spotlight during the skills competition, so this is my chance. Sure, most hockey fans have already seen it, and I’m sure many of them have had the amount of beer needed to kill a horse, so I don’t expect much from the audience on this one. But I think this is going to be fun.

11:31 Eddie O and Doc are doing the call. Ray Bourque looks awesome in the old-school footage of accuracy competition.

11:32 Do we really need celebrity judges? No. This isn’t a horse race. This isn’t the Belmont Stakes. This isn’t Dancing with the Stars. OK, maybe it is.

11:34 Is Ovechkin the worst interview ever? Yeah, but he is trying, and he is much more personable than Crosby.

11:36 Introductions time. Aside from the fact that they are starting late, this is the worst part of the Skills Competition. If they do it again for the game Sunday night, they are going to lose viewers. Or at least me. Sure, you have to do it, but it takes forever, and people only care about the players from their team.

11:38 Hey, it’s snowing in Pittsburgh, right outside my window. What’s the weather like in Atlanta?

11:39 Herrik Sedin looks lonely. I wonder why.

11:40 Eastern Conf introductions. I can go get some chips now. OK, I’ll stay. But still, I’m bored.

11:41 I should say, right now, that while I’m bored with this (Moby’s James Bond theme in the background?), I like these sort of events by default. Sure, it isn’t a hard hitting game. It isn’t the NHL you see every day, but I think that’s kind of the point. If you could watch your favorite hockey players just goof off everyday. you would tire of it. But every so often, fans can put everything else aside, and watch some fun. You can hate the Red Wings, for example, outside of a game situation.

11:45 And with that, commercial. How bored must the fans at the game (and I’m calling it a game for simplicity sake)? Back in a minute.

11:48 How long until Chris Pronger shaves his head? Versus, not all of us have HD. Make your graphics fit the screen.

11:50 Obstacle Course: What the hell is this? It’s absolutely silly looking. Is it going to be worth it? I would rather see them take on the American Gladiators obstacle course.

11:51 Could anyone see wat the hell was going on? Did they test this thing before putting int on the air? This thing looks horrible. If people think hockey looks bad on TV, they ain’t seen nothing yet. Oh, wait, they didn’t see anything anyways.

11:56 Rick DiPietro makes 3 shots out of four. Remember kids, learn to stick handle as a goalie. You never know when it may come in handy.

11:58 Commercial break. I’m getting chips.

Midnight: I’m up. Who else?

12:02 Didn’t they say that the hardest shot was coming up next? I’m so confused.

12:03 So, this is just lame. I liked the once around the rink race. Sure, someone could get hurt, but you can’t etell me this is more fun. And the timer looks to be broken. Doc and Eddie have no idea what’s going on now.

12:06 Yep, teh timer is broken. And the thing seems fixed. Kovalchuk wasn’t the fastest? Where’s the video judge?

12:10 I don’t understand the scoring system. It makes no sense to me. But hey, it’s late.

12:11 Shootout. And this is where the shootout belongs. Not in games. There. I said it. I like the spectacle, hate the thing decideing games.

12:12 Skater-cam sucks. Sucks. I get the feeling that Versus is trying to make hockey look worse and worse. How can we screw things up more for our audience. And Doc tells us Phaneuf is shooting on DiPietro. Nope, that was Vokoun. Nice try, guys. And the mic that DiPietro does not work. Again, nice try, Versus.

12:17 Osgood sucks, Malkin rules. I get to be childish, it’s the skills competition. Tim Thomas is up, and I am actually very excited for him. He is one of my favorite stories in the NHL.

12:18 Thomas gets break, and the puck goes just wide.

12:19 Thomas is two saves on two shots. Good enough for me.

12:20 I can’t see anything with this skater-cam. Plus, the lighting sucks. Seriously, when I saw Legace’s jersey, I was trying to figure out which LA King was playing in net.

12:21 Thomas misses on Phaneuf. It makes me dislike the Flames more. Don’t score on Thomas. Don’t do it.

12:23 Legace with the huge save, and gets two for tripping. The West wins, and I still have no idea how. This is like new math.

12:25 Las Vegas (most likely their tourist board) sponsored the Shootout competition. Was that a bid to get a team in Vegas? Keep them in mind ad money? Hmmm…..

12:28 Youngstars game. Last time, Malkin was cherry picking, and was the only one in the game not to score a point. Even the goalies got assists. It was sweet justice for those who play the game, and play it like a team sport.

12:29 But first, introductions…..

12:32 Wait a minute, wait a minute. Are there no youngstar goalies? None? Seriously? I like wathing Thomas play, but still, I think some young goalies should get a shot at it. Maybe all the goalies are just plain old these days. Hey, let’s put Hasek in. Dude could be these guys dad…or grandpa.

12:35 Clarkson lights up Osgood. Makes me happy. Thomas had a save. This game is going just fine.

12:37 Note to Versus: Picture in Picture does not work during a hockey game. Osgood gives up another one. And another. Happy days are here again.

12:39 Staal with a great shot on Osgood. Osgood is a goal funnel. And he should have gotten a penalty for playing the puck in the zone. And he gives up another one. 5-1 East.

12:41 6-2 East so far. One period down, one to go. The Versus crew asks how it would be with a second overtime with 3 on 3, and I say, it would be short, but it would rock.

12:42 Legace is hilarious, but he is no Marty Turco. Legace wants the hooking call, but you could call him for interference. Legace likes the idea of 3 on 3 better than a shootout. Me too.

12:45 Remember, this isn’t a real game. There is no checking, no real penalties, but it sure is fun. Vokoun is a sieve out there.

12:46 Legace get the MVP of the Youngstars game, and maybe the broadcast. They did the same thing with Marty Turco, and it was great, but this was excellent. Talk about excited.

12:47 Double drop pass, and Legace with the save.

12:49 Legace says go with the team aspect, and have a second 3 on 3 overtime. I’m down with that. Commercial break, so I’ll be right back.

12:53 I do not need to see Chris Simpson eating. Not now, not ever. But apparently, brisket is a local favorite. Whatever. More hockey please.

12:55 More commercials. Smart lids? I may get one. Wait, what am I saying?

12:59 Even more commercials. Oh, yeah, and they better fix the lights for tomorrow.

1:02 We are back, and still going strong. Goalies are out for the moment, and accurate shot is up. Jason Arnott goes 4 on 5 shots, and even hits one twice for good measure.

1:04 Kaberle goes 4 for4. Impressive, young Skywalker.

1:05 Lidstrom sucks. At this. But still, I’ll take what I can get.

1:06 Niedermayer…. Allstar. Should have been skating more on the offseason.

1:10 One on one final? What is this? Did they tell us this? No, they didn’t. Kaberle doesn’t quite go 4 for 4 in this round, but he is pretty impressive.

1:12 But he still wins it. That was pretty impressive. Foam targets may not be goalies, but it’s still pretty cool. Hey, you do it.

1:16 Al Iafrate Worst hair ever? Not just hockey hair, but any hair. Worst. Ever.

1:18 Zdeno Chara, 6’9″, 250 lbs. Yeah, I could take him.

1:21 Arnott breaks 100, Ovechkin doesn’t. But DiPietro says it’s OK, thanks to the amount of goals he has so far. And who knew DiPietro started out as a forward? The things you learn.

1:23 Lecavalier hits 101.3, and that’s pretty damn impressive.

1:24 Phaneuf. Soft shot. Ha!!!!

1:27 Chara is 101.4 on the first shot, 103.1. Damn. I blame the longest stick in the NHL. Plus, he put his entire body into it, and that’s a lot of body.

1:28 Final event is next, and I don’t think I will understand how they score it either. Breakaway challenge? Is this where we get the celebrity judges?

1:34 That’s the celebrity panel? Whatever. At least they should know some hockey.

1:36 Datsyuk doesn’t get much for the first, and more for the second. Mellanby is not easy to impress.

1:38 St. Louis screws the pooch. Lacrosse move is a bust, backhand is worse.

1:39 Getzlaf off the skate impresses the judges, backwards between the legs does even better. It’s fun, but I want to see the lacrosse shot.

1:41 Kovalchuk bores me on the first shot, but the from-the-knees shot is more fun.

1:42 Gaborik goes between the legs on the first shot, and tries the wraparound. DiPietro says he “f%#ked” his hip up again. Did he make a little dig against HAsek? “He’s got some speed, I may have to take his knees out.”

1:45 Did DiPietro really jack up his hip? Is that the scoop of the year (not for me, but Versus).

1:46 Ovechkin has the move of the game. Scooping it up on the stick was impressive, but I would have loved to see him just carry it on his stick, and tip it in.

1:48 He can’t bat it in, but how cool was his moves? Bat it up in the air, 360 spin, and the baseball swing. Really impressive.

1:50 Oveckin with the win, but barely any goals. The replay in slow motion shows the dangling tongue, the signature of AO. I have a hard time disliking the guy.

1:56 AM Final thoughts: Waht, other than it’s late? I have to get to bed, I have two shows tomorrow. But it was still worth staying up to watch the skills competition. I had a great time, and even though I had some complaints, I thought it was a lot of fun. For the record, I think the obstacle course sucked hard. I thought the camera work was awful (thanks, Versus), and the event rarely made sense. There were too many stupid scoring options, and if the most important thing is bragging rights, don’t pile up rules that we aren’t going to care about. The best part of the evening was the shootout skills, and while it was fun, I believe this is where those skills belong, in a skill competition, not in a game. Manny Legace was awesome, and Rick DiPietro was fun, but when I think of him now, I will always remember him “Fucking” up his hip on air. Good job, Rick. Make it so we have to watch the games on a delay. Language!!!

I think I will do this tomorrow night, for the rebroadcast, since I will again be working for the live event. Are you going to miss it too? Pop on ny. It will be a party.

All Star Game Has Who?

This is up on the Versus schedule, right now. Seriously (emphasis mine):

56TH NHL ALL-STAR GAME ()
56th NHL All-Star Game
The 56th NHL All-Star Game will be the first for the city Atlanta. The league’s brightest stars including Sidney Crosby, Vincent Lecavalier, Jarome Iginla, Nicklas Lidstrom and hometown favorite Ilya Kovalchuk will light up Philips Arena in what is sure to be a memorable weekend of hockey in the Peach State.

Ummm….. Sidney Crosby? Who was spotted last night in a bar in downtown Pittsburgh (and yes, I know he is 20 years old, but he is Sidney Crosby). Versus has this TV thing down, don’t you think?