I will be watching game 7 of tonight's Detroit vs. Pittsburgh game on NBC.
Yes, it has taken me the entire season to get to this point. But I just can't hack it anymore.
I love Ron MacLean. I LOVE Don Cherry; I mean, I don't always agree with him, but his segments are always entertaining and I appreciate his patriotism and his passion for hockey. He says it like it is, and there aren't too many left in that industry that can say that anymore... lest they upset a sponsor or possible interview etc.
The fact of the matter is, the combination of Jim Hughson and Craig Simpson as the play-by-play and color commentary respectively, has been quite atrocious. Yes, Hughson really could be one of the game's greats. He has solid delivery and a good, easy-listening sound. He gets excited at the right times to help increase the tension of the games. Simpson occasionally offers really nice insight on what players can go through during the rigors of an 82+ game season, and also what it takes to win in the playoffs.
The problem is, these positives from both broadcaster's come WAY too few and far between.
For 90% of the game we have to listen to them rave about the Detroit Red Wings. How amazing they, and they're players, are. Granted, a team like the Red Wings that could have a dynasty on their hands is deserving of a lot of credit, but not this over-the-top crap that makes the average fence-sitter think Mike Illich managed to get his nephew the play-by-play gig with CBC.
Last I checked, this was a 7-game series. A best of one. Winner take all. 50/50. Believe it or not, the Penguins have not been eliminated yet (although history suggests they're facing an uphill battle tonight!).
I'd like to make it known that my allegiances going into this series were with the Wings. If they win, I take home a cool $300 from a pool, and I want that money! However, Hughson and Simpson have broken me to the point where I don't care if they lose, and, in fact, I'd like to see Pittsburgh win just to see what they'd say! They would probably STILL rave about the Wings while Crosby hoisted the Cup.
I don't know why I take this as such a surprise, because anyone who watches Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday night's should be pretty used to Hughson and Simpson. They generally call the late-night games. For me, a Flames fan, it doesn't get any worse than the combination of those two bozo's. Hughson is the long-time play-by-play man for the hated Vancouver Canucks and I'm pretty sure if given the chance, he would change his last name to Sedin. By listening to Hughson broadcast a Canucks game, you'd think the Sedin's invented the cycle, the slap-pass and also saved a dozen orphans and their puppies from a burning building on their way to GM Place for the game. Simpson, of course, was a long-time Edmonton Oiler player (the last Oiler to score 50 goals in a season) and assistant coach. You'd have to tie him up and threaten to hurt his family before he'd ever say anything derogatory toward the Oilers (other than Dustin Penner).
These guys are talented broadcasters, but its clear they belong on a local level, calling the games of the team's their allegiances lie with.
But it's really not just the broadcaster's that I have a problem with. The replays on CBC are always slow. I remember during a second-round series, I heard an overtime goal call and ran to watch the replay. After 2 minutes of waiting for who know's what, I finally had to switch over to The Score to catch the replay. Add to that the fact that I think they pull camera-men off the street for some of their games, and their new theme song sounds like some 8-year old was fooling around with Garage Band and it makes for a pretty pathetic playoff game experience.
I've grown up watching CBC. When I think of the playoffs, I think of CBC. But the writing has been on the wall for the last few seasons as TSN has risen head and shoulders above CBC in terms of sports coverage.
I just never thought I would turn to NBC.
I hope for hockey fans all over that this game is a good one. It would be a nice cap to an exciting season. Game 7's are what its all about. Especially when it comes to the final game of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Stanley Cup remains the most difficult trophy to win and the grind of the NHL playoffs is really something spectacular to watch every season. I will NEVER forget the look on Martin Gelinas' face when the buzzer sounded and TBay beat the Flames. It summed it all up and its hard to believe that after these two teams have worked so hard for 115 games, someone has to go home a loser.