Hey folks, I know it's been a minute since we last posted something on the site. Allow me to run through all the posts we were going to run and then, uh... didn't.
We had partially finished pages about the Av's skating with the Preds in their first playoff appearance since 2014. We had a story about how Nashville thoroughly outclassed them when it counted. We had some musings about the very strange numbers behind the Jets-Preds series.
Hell, I was literally in the middle of writing a piece about why the Nashville Predators should shop Pekka Rinne at the draft when I ran into an excellent piece which argued the exact same thing from The Hockey News.
So in short, we're sorry and we'll do better. That being said, thanks for all your support and let's get to the main event.
Allow me to start with an open secret. NBC sucks. They are awful. The way this entire postseason has been scheduled, presented and displayed has been a disaster. The national TV numbers should be through the roof and yet... no one is watching. No one has been watching playoff games in which the second biggest sports market in America got smoked by a team that literally did not exist this time last year, one 7-Game series between two lovable/hateable Original 6 teams, another 7-Game series between the legitimate two best teams in the league and we got the usual Caps-Penguins drama but with a twist ending this time! The only game of note, ratings-wise, was the recent Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals. Let's be real, all those eyeballs only tuned into this.
I may have made that sound more exciting than it probably seemed at the time, which makes sense since most of these games were either double layered on one or multiple stations or just played at times which made no sense to their timezone. It is hard to keep track of events when the network broadcasting said events goes out of their way to make it harder to watch. NBC has 5 stations they could use! But no, don't touch the Shark Tank marathon on CNBC. Instead, let's put a series-clinching game of the Golf Channel because the only people watching the Golf Channel at this time of night are the NHL players who didn't make the playoffs and my dad. He also did not make the playoffs.
I don't know how much of the decision making is on the NHL or how much is on NBC, but either way, it's inexcusable. When Gary Bettman was summoned from the darkness on that terrible day back in 1993 he was made commissioner because he promised to foster the growth of the league. He's done so, growing the league to 31 teams and taking it from a multi-million dollar enterprise to a multi-billion dollar one. Yet the league hasn't been relevant on television since 2003. But my "Gary Bettman stopped being useful 15 years ago" rant is for a different day, so back to you in the studio, NBstinks!
I know the hockey world is split on this (which blows my mind) but I love Doc Emrick. His bombast, his utter admiration for both hockey and the English language fills my heart with happiness. For my money, when paired with Eddie Olczyk, there is no better broadcast team in sports. That being said, when I turn on a game and it's not Doc calling it, it really tests my will to stick around. Kenny Albert is fine, I guess. He's mainly a deep voice who offers no additional value to the experience, but after that, the floor drops away pretty quickly.
As for color commentary, woof. Let's just say the name Pierre McGwire and move on, so none of you breaks whatever you're reading this on. Whoever allowed Mike Milbury to escape the studio in New York and follow Doc to his games should be fired. Why Proto-Ron Artest still is collecting a paycheck from this network, I have no idea. You know that feeling when someone turns a game on at a big family event like Thanksgiving, and you all sit in that stilted silence while your MAGA uncle utters phrases like "Ya gotta want it, boys" & "Wasn't a penalty in my day" half-heartedly towards the TV? That's exactly what it's like watching Milbury attempt to call a game. For the love of everything holy, NO MORE.
On the flip side, AJ Mleczko has been outstanding since the Olympics and I was very glad to see NBC give her a lot of work this postseason. She's no longer on and honestly if someone is able to build a Milbury suit she could wear to get past security, I'd fund that bad boy myself.
NBC's studio game is a tad better. Liam McHugh is sneaky good. He has a subversive charm and a no-nonsense delivery which fits well with his crews. Keith Jones isn't as awful as he used to be, but Jeremy Roenick is just unbearable and Anson Carter's mediocrity is hidden by JR's lack of cogent analysis. It's not a good sign for the overall level of the studio bullpen talent when Patrick Sharp decides to hang out for a few days and analyzes circles around the established roster.
One of my favorite pastimes is thinking up all the simple ways the NHL can do better but won't. There are plenty of items on that docket (again, another day) but chief among them is getting the NHL off of NBC and onto, I don't know, a network which actually acts like they want hockey. Sure, the NHL dabbled with both ESPN and Fox before finding Versus (Now NBCSN) with mixed results. This is a different era, however. The NBC deal is up after the 2020-2021 season and ESPN seems interested in at least splitting the league with another network, as it does with the NBA. If the NHL does go over to the evil empire and submits to Darth Disney, they will likely see a bump in revenue, and they surely will see a bump in overall ratings. A split would be infinitely better than letting NBC suck all of the joy, excitement and opportunity this next decade of hockey will have to offer.
When I was a kid, the NHL was endlessly fascinating. Patrick Roy was insane, both on and off the ice. Teemu Selanne was scoring almost every single night. Seeing plastic rats litter the ice in Florida was exciting (even if the style of hockey wasn't). Watching Pavel Bure skate through seemingly frozen defenders was magical. Witnessing Super Mario take over a game was astonishing. Now, this young generation can witness Marc Andre Fleury rob a sure goal, or Connor Hellebuyck work on... whatever this is. They can watch Patrik Laine fire rockets through brick walls and marvel at Connor McDavid, Taylor Hall or Nate Mackinnon outclassing entire teams by themselves. Well, at least they could watch if there were more than 3 weekly broadcasts consisting of the Penguins, Blackhawks and Bruins.
So you want to grow the game, Mr. Bettman? Put it on a network that will actually showcase it. All of it.