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Second half of the season starts on Tuesday, and I like the fact that it's so close in the standings. It's ultimately good for the sport to have as many teams as possibly vying for a playoff spot right now and makes up to certain hockey excitement that people only could see in the playoffs.

Another thing that makes more games more exciting to watch is because of the amount of divisional games that are being played. I don't have Center Ice because I'm a poor college student but if I did, I would certainly check out the Rangers, Devils, and Pens games knowing that every game counts. I know alot of people are made or whatever because the Western Conference doesn't see Sidney Crosby very often, but the same could be said about the Eastern Conference. I mean I wanna see the Red Wings, I wanna see Ryan Getzlaf--but not to the extent where I'm going to stop watching hockey.

The thing is is that it can be compared with baseball and interleague play. Are you going to have someone in the National League stop watching baseball because their team only gets to play the Red Sox once or twice a year? No. Granted, baseball has a lot more exposure, but it's the same kind of thing in my opinion.

Which leads me to my other point, the NHL needs a whole lot more exposure. First of all, they need to get rid of this Versus deal. The absolute horror of the All-Star Game this weekend was mind-blowing. The display and overall execution of the weekend on Versus was terrible, at best. Pretty much the only thing that stood out was listening to Emrick the entire night.

And all of this is ashame because the All-Star game itself was fantastic. It was great to watch and one of the reasons why I love hockey so much. The talent on the ice at any given time was phenomenal.

The skills competition though was where everything lacked. The overall feel of it was lacking. There didn't seem to be much excitement. Atlanta itself didn't look properly prepared for it and the crowd seemed mildly interested during the whole night. It looked dark and dull. The audio was off for the beginning of it and Versus did a terrible job in overall showing the thing itself. I found myself at times during the events watching a replay than actually watching what was happening at the time. It was the most frustrating things I've ever watched. Although nothing compares to the changes to all the events.

First, why did they change up the puck relay? The first event was an absolute mess and horrid to watch on TV. I had no idea what was going on. The camera angles were brutual, and the event itself was a horrible idea. As a Flyers fan, I didn't want to see my future captain throwing pucks over a barrier and into a mini-net. I also didn't want to see Joe Thornton do it either. Probably the only thing that was good about the event was watching goalies fire pucks at the net, although even that seemed boring.

Second, they screwed up fastest skater. I don't know why they ever decided to do that in the first place. I thought the point of it was to see who the fastest skater was after a lap, not whose the fastest skater to the red line. To make things worse, the results were terribly inaccurate to the point that even Doc Emrick was scratching his head as to what to say on the air. In my mind, this event was probably the worst thing about the weekend in itself. The idea of change for the NHL should be permanently banned and the use of the word should be banned in NHL offices around the country.

Lastly, the final event, the breakaway challenge, was interesting and mildly entertaining. Although, no fault to Bill Clement, I think the scoring needs to be given a break a little. This isn't the slam dunk contest where anything is possible. Hockey has it's limits, and although someone can flick up a puck rather easily, it doesn't happen as easy as dunking the ball. Truth be told, I wouldn't mind not seeing this event ever again but at the same time, I think this event could be very entertaining in the future. Although, it will certainly need a year or two to grow, I know for a fact there are a lot of players out there who during their off practices, skate around and do things with their stick and puck like never before. I'd like to see that happen.

Finally, credit goes to Atlanta fans that were there during the weekend. You guys looked like you had a great job, and it was nice to hear the "Kovy" chants along with the booing of Bettman. Nice job, guys.
January 28, 2008 4:50 PM ET | Delete
Yeah, the skills challenge as a whole was a yawner as usual. It's a nice idea I guess to have a display but it just doesn't generate any excitement whatsoever. It's probably cool for kids and that's fine. The ASG itself was actually pretty good. And you're right, the coverage was dreadful. I got no complaints, I keep telling myself I'm not gonna watch it but I do anyway, though I did watch most of 60 Minutes when the game was on.
January 28, 2008 7:50 PM ET | Delete
Versus is the result of dressing up hayseeds. Horrid. Camera angles, timing the whole package. They should go to NYC and get some NYU film major interns. I bet they'd do a better job then Versus' DP's directors. That mini net barrier passing thing was basically more comical than anything. You're absolutely right about the fastest skating challenge. It was way more fun to watch allstars work for it and loop around the entire rink - it also showed more character of the skater. Also speaking of Doc Emerick - dude's definitely the 'voice' of the NHL but it would be nice if he passed the baton to a younger more energetic and electric play by play guy (the guy from the Caps is awesome). Emerick's too oldschool to be announcing twenty-somethings. Imagine your grandfather chaperoning you on a college date. "I'll pick you kids up after the movie right by the popcorn stand". Also these kids; I feel like these younger newer faces of the NHL are too pre-packaged and politically correct and basically more boring than a Justin Timberlake video. It's still ice hockey right? Rick Dipietro - stop talking and stop the puck. Emerick, stop engaging conversation with him.
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