The Ship Be Sinking

Mouth Almighty

NHL Draft

I’m really not the guy to provide any analysis of this on the merits, so I won’t try- I will, however, say something about the TV presentation. And that something is, for however long these two leagues may exist, the NHL needs to never again hold their draft the day after the NBA holds theirs because the NHL looks like a total fucking clown show in comparison. Announcers who garble simple words or stumble over them, or else throw out inexplicable phrases (“I punched you in the pants a million times!!!”); ambling, rambling presentation which takes forever to get to the point; horrifically bad attempts from everyone involved to speak French; the commissioner coming out to an enormous chorus of boos from the most passionate hockey fans, a day after David Stern received cheers from the NBA’s most passionate; the apparent need for picks to be made from the stage by approximately 37 people from each franchise including in one case the owner’s child, each of whom must walk up in single file, and who must thank the host city for its hospitality and congratulate the Penguins; the terrible, terrible visual quality of the telecast and the ugly, half-decorated arena set-up; the tendency to focus on (sorry, it’s true) the ugliest fans they could find in the crowd. The whole experience makes the league look like a third rate organization, closer to arena football than any of the other big time sports in North America.

The worst part is, nearly all of these things are controllable and correctable. I mean, you can’t do much about the fact that your draftees all look like 12 year olds and are mostly visibly terrified by the process, and at this point Gary Bettman could cure cancer while juggling supermodels on stage and still get booed, but the basic telecast issues are easily fixable. The NBA and NFL have figured this out (the MLB draft is different for various reasons) and thus managed to build their draft into a television spectacle which creates media interest, builds stars out of the draftees, and generally is an easy positive PR bonus for the league and many of its teams every year- it’s even specially targeted to do so for the teams which suck the most and thus need the most help. The NHL draft still feels like it’s stuck in the 80’s somewhere, like an off-camera event targeted to whatever city they happen to hold it in and which someone accidentally pointed a camera at. There’s no urgency to move through the process, no strong focus on who the players are and what they bring to the table, the fans don’t give a shit unless they’re cheering the home team or booing Toronto or Bettman, and the quality of the announcers- probably the key part of one of these shows- is just abysmal. I’m actually sitting here missing Mark Jackson and (I’m serious) finding an all-new appreciation for how good Stuart Scott is in his role on the NBA’s show. Watching the TSN guys is like watching an NBA draft broadcast by nothing but Andy Katzes and Dick Vitales, all useless or commonplace observations pitched a half-tone beneath hysteria. They honestly come off as unlikeable and annoying human beings, which in all likelihood they’re really not. But on this show….

Oh and incidentally, Chris Pronger to the Flyers? Has any trade in the history of this league been more inevitable?

And since I’m mean, here’s a running list of terrible turns of phrase from tonight’s show. No clue who said what, they may as well all be the same guy. Quotes are approximate, and anything that’s not a word is due to one of the announce crew having incredible difficulties with language all night.

“Drah-ah-ah-ah-muh”

“I punched you in the pants a million times!!!”

“Not that it wouldn’t have meant more to the other two, but it meant more to John Tavares”

“Do we have a trade to talk about? I don’t believe so.”

“Here’s Brian Burke and Bob Gainey discussing the Vincent Lecavelier Rumors….”
(Burke) “The rumor is he’s going to you or the Islanders”
(Gainey) “Yup.”

“Colorado, I’m not trying to crush your party but this kid’s good.”

“Get your skates sharpened at Snarklseysparmpsing”

“You wanna talk about character?” (highlight of the player boarding someone head-first)

(An inane, rambling bilingual wharrgarble of a tribute to Luc Robitaille from the stage, which had nothing to do with the draft)

“Drumitalbullfinzhers”

About a Swedish draftee:
(Announcer 1) “He’s an elite, elite athlete”
(Announcer 2) “He didn’t play in the Swedish Elite League”

“Ekman-Larsson is the first European to go in the draft, we should make that point” (He was pick #5, another Swede went #2)

All of these were from the first five picks. No Buys.

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June 26, 2009 - Posted by | Other NHL

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