The NHL on NBC

Could NBC not steal away better talent from ESPN for calling hockey games it chooses to nationally televise? Gary Thorne is apparently still locked in to a contract with ESPN/ABC, having spent last year calling college football games (and doing a damn fine job, if you ask me; Thorne just has a sports announcer’s voice through and through).
Big surprise that Bill Clement, formerly Thorne’s useless and biased color man, is now uselessly and biasedly anchoring NBC’s hockey network desk with Ray Ferraro. (Very manly of you guys to be out on the ice in Rockefeller Plaza, sticks in hand, while the peewee team pokes pucks around the rink behind you. This is what is known in the vernacular as a cliché. You’d think you Canadians would know a little French.)
So in DFW today we are, of course, getting the Stars-Blues game out of St. Louis. Chris Cuthbert and Peter McNab have zero chemistry. Most of the time, it sounds like McNab’s mouth is engaging before his brain. (Taking lessons from Clement, Peter?) Cuthbert sounds like he’s about to start hyperventilating any second during the game call. The only redeeming quality of this broadcast crew is Cammi Granato, stuck with the stupidly named “Inside the Glass” position. One improvement with this threesome would be to eliminate McNab and put Granato in his place. I’m not sure where Cuthbert came from, but he needs to go back to being the local team announcer there.
You might be wondering why I’m so snarky on this admittedly minor issue. First, when it comes to hockey announcers, we’re pretty spoiled here in Dallas. Ralph Strangis and Daryl Reaugh are one of the best broadcast teams in any sport. (Many of us are still hoping Daryl comes to his senses and gets a hair cut.)
Second, being a hockey fan, I want to see the sport win more fans, and one area this is going to happen in will be nationally televised games. (Few and far between those may have been these past few years. Great job with those television contracts, post-Fox Sports, Commissioner Bettman.) So if a nationally-televised game is part of your new fan-winning strategy, you better make sure the network you’ve given the goods to can deliver with top-notch broadcast crews. Those currently employed by NBC are barely living up to the term “mediocre”.
Like I’m sure many of you do when your home team is being nationally televised, I normally mute the television and flip on the radio, putting up with the satellite delay to hear my local announcers call the game. I tried to give the NBC crew an honest shot today, but they’re falling far short. Back to WBAP to hear Ralph and Razor call the last five minutes of the game.

2 thoughts on “The NHL on NBC

  1. You’re talking about a league that signed a TV deal with OLN – a network known for Survivor reruns, Lance Armstrong coverage, and Ted Nugent’s show. A network owned by Comcast, which makes me wonder if anybody other than Comcast broadcasts the network (I don’t know for certain). A network with no HD feed (with the sport that really needs HD). A network who’s master plan for gaining critical appeal was getting the Thursday night NFL contract, which ended up going to the NFL Network (gee, I’m shocked). Oh, and the quality of at least the early broadcasts looked like something I’d get over rabbit ears in the 80s.
    Are you really surprised that the NHL wasn’t able to get a quality TV product in place?

  2. I know DirecTV broadcasts OLN, because that’s how I am able to watch it, but Dish Network doesn’t carry it. I would love to watch hockey in HD, but it would help if I had a HD TV.
    What surprises me is that, given the continuous downslide of network coverage of the NHL, and the fact that he appeared fairly castrated when it came to all facets of the lockout, the team owners haven’t demanded Bettman’s head on a platter and a new commissioner.

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