Every time the conversation about the sport that doesn't use a ball arises, I always come back to the same issue. There is NOT ONE person covering the sport who I look forward to telling me about "the fastest game on earth."Barry Melrose WILL NOT suffice any longer.
I need more, NEW, and better personality to teach & talk to me about hockey.
You see it everywhere in the other three major sports.
NFL has an array of former pro bowlers and legends in and around the coverage of games. Deion Sanders, Steve Young, Warren Sapp, John Gruden, Dan Diedorf, Tony Siragusa, Troy Aikman, Terry Bradshaw, Jimmy Johnson, Marshall Faulk and list goes on. For god sake Tiki barber retired so he could cover the games on TV!
The NBA is a league like none other because it is the smallest and most close-knit of them all. Charles Barkley, Reggie Miller, Magic Johnson, Jeff Van Gundy, Hubie Brown, Dr. Jack Ramsay, Jalen Rose, Mark Jackson, Jamal Mashburn, etc. In the recent past Steve Kerr & Danny Ainge left the booth to become GM's.
MLB is covered in more depth than all others sports just because the nature of the game. Orel Hershiser, Dave Winfield, John Kruk, Joe Morgan, Harold Reynolds, Steve Phillips, John Hart, Buck Showalter, and many many more.
Why has the NHL and its players seem to have lost out on the easy transition from playing their game to analyzing their game?
There are a few responses to this question.
1) The NHL is less "fraternal" than all the other sports. Meaning less camaraderie exists between the players, coaches, management, league, and ultimately the ones who cover the sport.
2) The previous response could stem from the fact that more languages and nationalities are in the NHL than any other sport. When the best players in the game do not assimilate very well into America and learn english, it leads to the inability to connect with the fans.
3) The networks, mainly Versus (they also run NBC's coverage) have failed to put people in place that a casual fan would recognize and latch onto. ESPN has tried to use Barry Melrose & Matthew Barnaby, but that is not enough!But that does not excuse Great American & Canadian players: Messier, Borque, Hull, Roy, Amonte, Vanbiesbrouck, Leetch, Richter, Robitaille, Lindros, Primeau, & LaFontaine...just to name a few. Of these guys only Vanbiesbrouck and Hull have entered the the media side, and that was only in a minor role.
Has the NHL sport not been as good to these guys as the MLB, NBA, & NFL to its players?
- No! They all have made millions.
I place blame on; First the players for not caring about the sports view in America, and Second the networks which cover the sport.
A message to Versus, if you are going to be the only network which covers the sport, then hold some freakin' auditions for players, coaches, and front office people who will add some insight that a casual fan is thirsting for.
At least the players and on-ice product are getting better! Only time will tell if the people covering the sport do as well.
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