The NHL on NBC kicked off this weekend. I checked in because, to be boorish, Hockey Day in Canada was killing me. We get it. All kinds of people play hockey. And save lives. And do both.
NBC’s national telecast wasn’t awful. I had a few thoughts, though:

  1. Since as near as I can tell, there’s no lead announcing team, why not get local announcers to call the game, like a Boston color guy and a New York play-by-play guy (this would only apply to a Bruins-Rangers match-up)? This way, you have two people who are very familiar with the teams working the game. I say this because NBC had Joe Micheletti, who does Rangers TV color, working as the on-ice reporter, when really he could have brought much more to the game in the booth, just in terms of understanding the Rangers. If NBC had given us a Boston expert, it would have been a really nice game, instead of one featuring meaningless generalizations.
  2. In the studio, they need more articulate ex-athletes. Ray Ferraro is dull. Studio shows don’t have to hinge on sports knowledge. Creating a fun, engaging vibe is way more important. For instance, for years Mrs. PuckUpdate and I watched the Fox pregame NFL show not because we like football (we don’t), but because it was kind of a goofy-yet-entertaining thing to watch. I’m a die-hard hockey fan and I really didn’t enjoy NBC’s studio work. I understand if NBC doesn’t want to hire more people for what’s probably a low-rated show. So why not just do a few packages on what went on in hockey during the week?
  3. Brett Hull seemed a little unprepared in his debut. I’m guessing NBC was playing with the format of the intermission right up until game time, though, since NBC had said the studio show would be outside and it was actually inside. I’ve heard nothing but good things about Hull’s TV and radio work in Dallas. I don’t get the sense he’s good in short bursts. I think he’d be perfect in a three-man booth, though. This way, he has context to his statements, rather than the studio approach, where he’s asked questions, and everyone just sort of stares at him, waiting for him to say something controversial.

The New York-Boston game production was good stuff, though. At one point, on a Bruins’ powerplay, NBC went to a behind-the-goalie angle just as Boston was sending in a point shot. You could see how hard it really is to track those types of shots. It was very nice anticipation by NBC.