Halloween weekend showed a lot of costume-like changes in the CBC HNIC lineup. Bob Cole did a Leafs game that didn't feature Montréal. Jim Hughson and Craig Simpson went to Vancouver (okay, so that isn't unusual). Dean Brown and Greg Millen got a national showcase in Canada and the United States.
And Quebec and the NHL Network in the United States carried Les Habs and the Boston Bruins with Mark Lee, Cassie Campbell-Pascall, and Bruce Rainnie. A rather unusual lineup.
In the blogosphere, I'm in the minority that likes Mark Lee. And I thought Cassie did a pretty good job. I even thought Lee was energized by doing a Boston-Montréal game.
The NFL Network carried two strong games this weekend, exciting action. Too bad the refereeing had a little to be desired. The crew in the Toronto-Winnipeg game lost control of the game toward the end. Two blown calls earlier in the game also didn't help.
The loud crowd at Canad Inns Stadium, the final regular-season game, did play a role, but at this time of the year, the crews need to be on their game.
Speaking of the loud crowd at Canad Inns Stadium, TSN had a really nice interview with Chris Walby. For those who don't remember, Chris Walby was the #1 color commentator for the CFL on CBC and called a number of Grey Cups with Mark Lee. When TSN acquired the full CFL coverage after the 2007 season, Walby disappeared off the telecasts.
Was really nice to see Walby on TV once again. Regular readers know I'm not as big of a fan of Glen Suitor. And after hearing Walby once again, TSN should find a way to get him on the CFL telecasts, maybe in a Tony Siragusa kind of way.
And yes, part of why I like Mark Lee is that I enjoyed his work with Walby in covering the CFL on CBC.
You had every right to fear the afternoon contest with Ottawa at Madison Square Garden wouldn't be that exciting. The Senators have done well, but the New York Rangers were going to be a tough match.
The Rangers got out to a 4-1 lead, but Ottawa pulled off 3 goals in a 8-minute stretch in the 3rd period to tie the game. Jason Spezza scored twice in the period. Milan Michalek had the game-tying goal as well as the only shootout goal. Ottawa won in the shootout and took the game 5-4.
Andi Petrillo was the sideline reporter for the game. Petrillo hosts the new "Game Day" the pre-game before the pre-game for CBC's Hockey Night in Canada. The program with P.J. Stock airs at 5 pm Eastern most Saturdays. Not sure if the NHL Network will ever simulcast the game; might be a better move to carry game coverage instead. When the NHL Network isn't carrying a Saturday afternoon game, U.S. viewers would like to see the show.
Thanks to the NHL Network for NOT giving us scores during the Washington-Vancouver game. It's bad enough to get the late HNIC game tape-delayed, but absolutely frustrating to see the score of the game you are watching. Bad points, though minor, to the yippee boxes during Hockey Tonight telling us what game is coming next. Your viewers have longer attention spans than you think they do.
If you are a fan of Les Habs in the United States, you had a hell of a week. Some of us (including me) got Montréal's win over Philadelphia from Comcast Sports Net Philadelphia (via CSN Chicago). True we had the visiting feed, but the game was in HD, and we've seen far worse local crews than the Flyers' announcers. Then we had TSN-Habs on the NHL Network on Thursday and CBC on the NHL Network on Saturday. The Canadiens went 3-0 after firing assistant coach Perry Pearn.
The NHL Network is blowing off another Leafs game this Saturday, carrying Les Habs in Madison Square Garden against the Rangers.
Yes, the baseball season is over: congratulations to the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals. However, we didn't want to overlook two former Blue Jays players who made an impact on the playoffs.
Former Toronto hurler Chris Carpenter proved to be money in the postseason, gaining a crucial win in back-to-back Game 7 matchups, beating Milwaukee and Texas. As we've mentioned before, Carpenter struggled in a Toronto uniform before Dave Duncan (St. Louis pitching coach) saved Carpenter's career. Carpenter went 49-50 in a Blue Jays uniform and 95-42 for St. Louis, not counting a 9-2 mark in postseason play, all with the Redbirds.
While Mike Napoli never wore the Toronto uniform, his performance was crucial in getting Texas to that 7th game. Napoli hit .328 with 3 HR and 15 RBI in the postseason after a regular season where Napoli hit .320 with 30 HR and drove in 75 RBI.
Napoli was acquired with Juan Rivera from the Los Angeles Angels for Vernon Wells last winter. Deciding that the team had too many catchers/1B/DH, the Blue Jays traded Napoli to Texas for reliever Frank Francisco.
Francisco was 1-4 with 17 saves and a 3.55 ERA in 2011. Rivera played 70 games and hit .243 for Toronto before being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in July.
You can't always determine after one year how well a trade goes. But you could easily argue the Blue Jays traded the wrong guy.