Yeah, the title is a huge dose of sarcasm. For the channel that claims to be the flagship channel of the National Hockey League, it is probably the greatest abomination in the history of sports coverage. I always knew that Versus was awful, but it became awfully apparent to me while watching the Rangers-Devils game on Monday night. Below are just the reasons I can think of now. Feel free to add in the comments section:
1) With the exception of Doc Emmerick, who happens to be a Hall of Fame commentator, the cast of play-by-play, color commentators, and desk anchors happens to be the biggest group of rejects in the business. Who the hell decided to make Keith Jones an authority on hockey? And even though Brian Engblom’s hockey career is a little more polished, someone needs to refer that dude to a new barber or something. Apparently he doesn’t understand that we get excited when we see mullets because they’re so ridiculous and absurd that you can’t help but laugh about them. Its so bad that I honestly don’t even listen to the commentary throughout the game; I’ve seriously watched almost an entire game and finally asked myself, “what the hell have these guys been talking about the whole time?” I pine for the good ol’ days with Gary Thorne, Al Morganti, and Barry Melrose on ESPN.
2) Have you ever noticed that 90% of the commercials end short? Its pretty apparent to me that the corportation cares nothing about covering hockey and is just trying to get as many commercials as possible in the alotted amount of time. And if you don’t believe that, consider this: the only extra coverage during a game is that blonde-haired chick (don’t even know her name) interviewing the coaches very briefly before coming back from the break. They never come back from commercial early and analyze a play that just occurred the way MSG does. I basically feel that they are just there to show the game, and nothing else.
3) Speaking of commercials – that Buffalo commercial. Come on! Seriously, the most passionate fans in the game? Before Carpinello mentioned this in his blog, my father was nearly throwing his shoes at the television with the amount of times this commercial came up during a telecast. I can guarantee you people sitting at MSG, the Bell Centre, the Air Canada Centre, the Saddledome, and even the Coliseum would have something to say about that. What gives them the nerve to make such a superlative statement with such definement like that?
4) Not one mention about Brendan Shannahan’s return to MSG after two years as one of the most popular players.
5) What happened prior to the Clarkson-Avery incident? Anyone? Did you see how it all started? I know I didn’t, and do you know why I didn’t? BECAUSE THEY DIDN’T SHOW YOU!!! How can you not show the precipitating events leading up to that skirmish? A whole lot of questions and no answers.
6) Who were the three stars of the game? They were Henrik Lundqvist, Scott Gomez, and Dan Girardi. I know that because I was curious enough to look it up after the game, no thanks to Versus.
7) The biggest reason of them all – unless you watch hockey (and even that is painful to watch on this particular channel), the channel provides nothing else, meaning nobody knows what channel it is. A minority of the homes actually get the network.
What makes this all even more painful is that Gary Bettman recently signed a deal to extend the contract with Versus for the next couple of seasons. My beloved sport has been clawing for media attention for over a decade. Let’s be honest – if you’re not a regular on ESPN, you’re drowning. They show highlights of the games and do a once a week analysis of the sport (I believe its Wednesdays with either Barry Melrose or Matthew Barnaby), and thats it. Look at the coverage and attention they give to the NFL, MLB, NBA, NASCAR, and NCAA. Its due to this that the NHL has been trailing for a long time now. People need to be exposed to the sport on a regular basis. And while its not a perfect channel itself, its not known as the Worldwide Leader in Sports for nothing, and if you’re going to be taken seriously as a sport, you need to be a regular on that channel. Why Gary Bettman doesn’t realize this and try to re-establish a relationship with ESPN is inexcusable. Then again, this guy hasn’t done anything positive for a long time….except for positively suck