Checking In On The New Hockey TV Landscape

By TSM

So here we are a few months into the 2014 NHL hockey season, the first under the Rogers mega season. I thought it was as good a time to see what your thoughts are on the new hockey world here in Canada.

It will certainly be some time for anyone to really be able to gauge the success or failure of the deal for Rogers but we as fans know what we like and what we do not right?

My take is really quite simple.

I don’t have the time to watch a ton of games irrespective of who is broadcasting the games. I know it sounds stupid, but I found it easier to watch leaf games while I lived in Seattle in that the time difference on a Saturday night was awesome. The game started at 4pm and by the time we were doing anything for the night the game was over. It was harder during the week for sure, but it was kind of cool to follow the early parts of the game on twitter while at work and then on tunein radio in the car on the way home.

Here in Toronto, between work and my kids hockey I just am not around all that often during game time and Saturday nights we are usually out somewhere on Saturday nights.

So I don’t notice a ton of difference except of course you need a media key to find what channel games are on some times.

I know I am alone when I say this, but I’ve thought that coaches corner has long past it’s 15 minutes of fame years ago. So the fact that it’s still on the air does nothing for me. To be honest, if I am watching 9/10 times I flip the channel or leave the room.

I hate to sound old but the “hot stove”portion of the show has not really recovered from the loss of John Davidson. They can throw all sorts of bodies at it, the segement seems really contrived to me; it’s weak. I’d prefer a panel of guys from around the league to just the same guys all the time. I think Elliotte Friedman does a good job but he needs better support around him. Again, my two cents.

The hack job of Fox NFL coverage where the guys are “on the ice” showing “plays” is in my mind a lame gimmick. I don’t think it works especially well in the NFL and it seems “hoakie” in hockey.

Play by play teams are what they are. You all know the folks I like and don’t so there is nothing really new there either.

I asked on twitter tonight whether people are liking George Stroumboulopoulos as the new host and I’d say the responses I got are about 50/50 mixed.

I have no problem with him to be honest, but I don’t get what his roll is and why he is there. I don’t see him as an expert so I am not looking to him for opinion or fact. Again, that’s not a knock it is what it is. On the flip side I am not entertained or intrigued by his interviewing or general commentary.

I am not bothered by George Stroumboulopoulos, I am not angry when he is on at the same time I don’t overly enjoy it either.

I liken his role to that of parsley on a dinner plate. It’s just kind of there. It doesn’t bother me. I don’t really like it or care for it but I am not offended by it either. Yes it may add some colour, but do I really care if it is there or not there? No not really.

So, my take. Not much as really changed.

In the morning and in the night we flip between TSN and Sportsnet to hear what’s being said. Just like we used to. I like some of the talent better on one network and other folks on the other too.

Perhaps I am over simplifying it, but really little seems different to me.

How about you?

TSM

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Neil
Neil
December 5, 2014 12:33 am

Let’s call it as it is, the NHL coverage provided by Rogers is far inferior to that of CBC. Srombo is nowhere near the talent level of Ron Mclean as it pertains to flow, knowledge or engaging the panel. I feel Kevin Weeks got a raw deal, he was exceptional in comparison to guys like PJ Stock or Damien Cox. Every show seems like a showcase of something dazzling in the new studio which takes the focus away from the nature of the program. Simple goes a long way sometimes, however this coverage is just simply to exaggerative and simply too Rogers.

Curt
Curt
December 5, 2014 12:50 am

Regarding Rogers’ NHL coverage, it’s funny how much money can be spent on production and still have it come out as cheap and lame.

George has always been a mediocre talent at best. I know he had a popular show on CBC where he fawned over his guests and convinced many people that he was a great interviewer. But, in my opinion, he just isn’t. (His awful ratings during his stint at CNN might substantiate that.)

And he needs to slow it down. Lay off the Red Bull and speak…more…slowly. TV isn’t radio. My guess is he’ll eventually take over as host of Q after he’s turfed from HNIC. I hope I’m wrong though.

Dave in Bolton
Dave in Bolton
December 5, 2014 12:54 am

Rogers sucks and Sportsnet will always be 2nd place and inferior to TSN. NHL made a stupid decision in not resigning with Bell and the coverage of the game shows it.

Dave in Bolton
Dave in Bolton
December 5, 2014 1:07 am

here’s my big problem the game feels commercialized everything from the above camera angle that shows the Rogers logo to George it seems like one big Rogers commercial. They might as well use the Rogers sound every time a goal is scored. When TSN had the national rights at least the Bell logo was not in my face constantly.

mario
mario
December 5, 2014 4:52 am

Me personally I don’t mind it all that much and am willing to give it some time to work the bugs out. CBC was getting stale and changes were needed. I think over time the on air talent there rolls will change. After paying 5.2 Billion for the rights right or wrong its there money and will do what they want just as Bell or CBC would have done. Can not wait for the ratings to see what the viewing public think and then how Rogers react to it.

mario
mario
December 5, 2014 5:07 am

As for the Sunday home town hockey think it was a good idea and enjoy the feel it brings along with the stories just not sure if Ron is used properly

jeff
jeff
December 5, 2014 7:53 am

Like- freidman-kipper-mclean-mallard-romanuk whenever they are on.
dislike-bells/whistles-Cox-Strombo- these guys try way to hard.

mickey b
mickey b
December 5, 2014 9:50 am

Just my two cents here… I agree with those of you that have talked about the corporate feel to the rogers broadcasts. To me, the broadcast doesn’t feel comforting the way it used to on Saturday nights. I realize changes are inevitable and I’m not against change in any way. There’s just something really missing from these broadcasts in terms of making me feel “Canadian” and relaxing with the game on a Saturday night. I think it is the boom, boom, boom, rogers spin on the whole thing.

As for George, I happen to really like him. I’ve always liked his style. That being said, I feel so bad watching him on Saturday nights. I find his work on HNIC comical at best. I’ve said this before, but I know with anything there are people out there that must like his work but in my circles he just brings up nothing but anger or laughter from his job. Have never heard anybody who thinks he’s doing a good job to say the least.

Finally, I agree with those that have touched on the lack of talent. There’s no shortage of personalities littering the rogers broadcasts but maybe they should weed out some of the extremely weak talent to help make the broadcast look more professional. I just can’t take anything that someone like Damien Cox says seriously. I could walk into any minor hockey rink in the country at any given time and find numerous people in there who I’d take their opinions on hockey as much more credible than his. What on earth is he doing as an “expert” on hockey on a national broadcast?

Antonio
Antonio
December 5, 2014 11:41 am

I agree, Strombo doesn’t serve any purpose. They might as well hire a hot looking chick who knows a little but about hockey and only acts as a host – and nothing more.

Steve Jones
Steve Jones
December 5, 2014 1:30 pm

All in all I think Rogers has taken hockey down a few notches. The airport hanger set is a great example of trying too hard. And all the gloss just makes it look glossy. And cheap. The talent was and still is B grade. Kypreos remains angry, McLean a know-it-all with little to back up the persona, and Millard a talking head with no personality or charisma. Friedman is terrific. Healy is pointed and engaging. The rest of the rotating cast forgettable.

As for the presentation it just reeks of Canadiana and manufactured sentimentality. Why does hockey have to be so sucky. Hometown hockey, really? Once a year sure, it’s cute. Every Sunday reeks of Rogers trying to bolster their status of the most hated corporation in Canada by associating themselves with small town,so-called, charm. It’s just a further mainfestation of Rogers inability to do any marketing that isn’t puerile and frankly embarrassing. Let’s face it Rogers bought hockey as much to try and attach itself to a Canadian institution as they did to make money. Probably more given I don’t see how the number roll up to profitability.

And lastly, I have to isolate Saturday night, HNIC. Is it really necessary to foist Romanuk on the nation?. Why are they using a C level broadcaster who is also a homer on what was once a national institution. If I want homer I can throw on Bowen. Although in that case I also have to throw in the ears plugs to avoid hearing loss.

I guess you can put me in the “I’m not a fan” camp.

GreyCountyMike
GreyCountyMike
December 5, 2014 4:13 pm

Paul Romanuk pulled off the deal of the century when he followed his bride overseas. By taking his act out of the day-to-day grind, his stock rose to ridiculous levels. He’d show up on North American airwaves just enough to remind people here he was still alive, then go away until the following Christmas or whenever there was another Spengler Cup-type, D-level hockey tournament. Then, when the Canadian hockey TV market had a revolutionary change and the big bucks were being tossed around, home he came to cash in. Good on him. Bad on those of us who have to listen to him.

Look, the guy was a solid junior hockey announcer back in the day. But for Rogers to expect he’ll perform at the level that his current gig demands is ridiculous … and it’s not like Romanuk is 28 years old and is going to get much better.

Wayne
Wayne
December 5, 2014 4:44 pm

I really dislike what Sportsnet has done to hockey, except I love getting at least three games Saturday night. I don’t have to watch the Leafs! Elliot is by far the best, with Kypreos and Cox really have gone down hill. Milliard continues to be weak! Strombo has not given any credibility to the show. No one but Elliott compare to Duthie, Ward, Oneil, LeBrun, Dreger, or McKenzie!
It will be interesting to see who God and who stays after year one or what it will look like in four years! I assume Rogers is paying in US dollars so I’m expecting more advertising with a low CDN $ to pay for this mess!
NHL and Bettman you took the dollars at the risk of losing your audience! Money does not trump the development of the game in the long run!

Curt
Curt
December 5, 2014 5:09 pm

LOL! Roundtable from Hell: Shannon, Reid, and….(wait for it)…

Cox.

Might be worth listening just to hear how bad it could be. On second thought…

Sam in Scarb
Sam in Scarb
December 5, 2014 5:10 pm

My worst nightmare has come true.
The JACKPOT has been hit on Friday’s roundtable on PTS
Cox,Reid & Shannon
The game is take a drink of a adult beverage each time something stupid is said !!!

Darren K Johnston
Darren K Johnston
December 5, 2014 7:20 pm

I can’t stand ROGERS HOCKEY, regardless of what night it is on. That being said, I didn’t order the Centre Ice package this season and have been suprised at how much hockey is on every week, this is a good thing. George needs to go someplace where teenagers are the viewing audience. If we could make a trade with talent and bring in Duthie, McKenzie, LeBrun, Dreger, Ward, Miller, Ferero, Cuthburt etc and in return give TSN Strombo, Kyper, MaClean, Cox, Rominuk, Randorph I think it could be a great product.

cash
cash
December 5, 2014 7:52 pm

role not roll

Rob
Rob
December 6, 2014 12:41 am

Here’s my take…

I feel the in-game coverage is pretty good. The quality of the picture is crisp and the feel of the presentations still feels like HNIC. That being said, the Paul Romanuk push has already exhausted its welcome. Use him for the Winnipeg or Ottawa game on The Score but he shouldn’t be doing feature games from Toronto or Montreal. Hughson and Bob Cole (still the best there, best there was, best there ever will be) should be rotating those games and Romanuk should be pushed to the fringe games. How this is even became I wonder.

While I quite don’t mind the in-game production, I am disgusted by the studio work. I watched the pre-game show for the first time last week…. simply awful. It has got nothing to do with George, it’s just the cheesy setups, cheesy topics, cheesy personalities (Cox, Cox and Cox) that just ruin the Saturday night studio experience. I agree with an earlier post, a guy like Weeks should’ve been involved at some capacity but two journalists are simply too many. Friedman is welcome but Cox is unnecessary on that set.

Another thing that is minor but it irks me are the montages that start the show. HNIC perfected this. During the playoffs, I would sometimes tune in at 7pm to see the montage then shut off the TV because I didn’t have much interest in the game. They were that good. I feel that they did this better than any program across North America, not just Canada. These montages embodied Saturday night and what it meant to us Canadians. Why were they so great? It was simply sound/music and images. Rogers is starting the show with these same montages but an essay vocalized on top of the images and music. A very plastic which are anything but genuine. Based on the style, I think Brunt is writing them. They sound very similar to the Rogers Blue Jays promos which are anything but genuine.

Unlike our brothers south of the border and more like our cousins across the pond, Rogers has to learn sometimes less is more.

WestDale Rocks
WestDale Rocks
December 6, 2014 9:26 am

My two cents.
STUDIO
I can take or leave Strombo. I couldn’t handle any more of Ron McLean the last few years with his descent into Pun Hell. Rogers needs a SERIOUS upgrade to its personalities. Kypreos and Doug MacLean come across as know it alls. I see HNIC recycled Oates from last year’s playoffs: on air, he’s about as dry as oats. In my opinion, the only strong talent they have, is Elliotte Friedman. Damian Cox needs to be booted off all broadcast media.. All he does is interrupt to make stupid jokes. And if he does have something to say, it’s usually lame.
PLAY BY PLAY
Solid Personally, I like Hughson, Romanuk and Coley. Randorf is a step below, with all the regional guys a step, or steps below that.
RADIO/OTHER MEDIA
Two guys hit the nail on the head about the Friday night PTS. As mentioned, Cox is awful. Shannon and Reid are unlistenable. I don’t think I’ve ever done what I did last night: turn off the PTS roundtable. I’d be shocked if Naylor isn’t making serious inroads into McCown’s numbers. If the Fan isn’t careful, they’re going to drive PTS under. They’ve already made McCown look really bad by hanging him out to dry with such awful support. Putting on weak panels week after week will drive a lot of people to Naylor’s show. And what they’ll find is an iteration of what PTS USED to be: interviews with the people making the news….not Bob trying to prop up a bunch of clowns.

Rob in Aurora
Rob in Aurora
December 10, 2014 8:33 am

Sportnet is embarrassing. Compared to what CBC established and what TSN still excels at, Sportsnet is embarrassing themselves. Strombo is not good, but other than Elliotte Freidman, he is the best thing about the content. It is common knowledge Sportsnet tried to hire all the TSN talent away and failed (who would leave TSN to go there?). So this is all second string “talent” we’re watching, and it’s obvious. How does Nick Kypreos get such a high profile? Kypreos, Millard and Maclean are just cringeworthy. I don’t watch anything but the games now. And I stream Bowen and Ralph for the PxP by pausing my PVR until the audio streaming catches up…I don’t mind Dave Ransdorf calling games, the rest are terrible.

Carl J
Carl J
December 10, 2014 7:44 pm

Like most on here my issue has to do with on air talent at a Rogers. I know they went after TSN top talent when they got the deal.
Good on the TSN guys for staying put, well, except for Randorf and Johnson who TSN probably drove them over as quick as possible… As an analyst Johnson stinks… Randorf was ok as CFL host but to listen to him call a 60 minute game is painful.

The so called hockey experts and insiders McLean, Kyper, and blowhard Cox come up small against McKenzie, Dreger, LeBrun.
Tell me what Strombo brings to the telecast…please go and get upcoming star Katherine Tappen who is rising star from The Hockey Network, she knows more hockey than poor George and is a way better interviewer for hockey than GS.

The only thing that Sportsnet has provided to my liking is more games on Saturday Night… NHL doesn’t care , they got their money
But something tells me down the line sooner rather than later Pelley will run to TSN to take some packages off their hands to ease the financial burden that will eventually fall on Sportsnet…. I know Rogers has lots of money, but as you see with the Blue Jays they don’t like tio spend it…

Chris
Chris
December 15, 2014 11:26 am

I enjoy Strombo’s roundtable discussions. The one with the owners was an interesting idea and I even liked the roundtable with Crosby, Toews & Lundqvist. I’m not crazy about his work with the panel however.

I think Strombo is too creative for his own good in this position. When he’s doing things that are new or different he does a really good job but seems uninterested in the “mundane” aspects of hosting a hockey broadcast. Almost as if he’s above it as broadcaster. Alternatively this is where Maclean & Duthie shine.

It still baffles me how Duthie could walk away from the opportunity to host Hockey Night in Canada, especially knowing that TSN has no chance of national rights for the next decade. Much respect for his loyalty but he’d be nailing it as the face of HNIC.

All in all, because I’m a Strombo fan I’m willing to be patient. I think he is a very good broadcaster and will “get it” at some point.

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