Ginette Reno singing the anthem in Montréal was the #1 thing I knew I would miss in the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs. NBCSN did show Reno in fine form in Game 1. USA, perhaps for obvious reasons, didn't show the anthems in Game 2. If Game 2 was on CNBC, we might have seen an encore performance. Unfortunately, Game 5 is on USA.
The NHL Network is the best outlet in the playoffs, provided you get the NHL Network. NBCSN is next followed by CNBC and finally USA. The USA network promos are violent and weird, which should fit in with hockey yet they don't. USA forced the NBC-produced games with Canadian teams in the first round in 2015.
The pageantry is part of why I like covering this beat. The NBC Group studio coverage is horrible. They have quality people but they don't get to contribute much in quality or quantity. More Ginette Reno, less of useless playoff chatter.
NBC has been kind in giving the U.S. audience a sample of Dave Strader. The NBC Group gave Strader the first 2 games of the Toronto Maple Leafs series in the U.S. capital. Strader has been battling cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct cancer). Strader worked a 5-game respite during a Dallas Stars homestand earlier this season.
His voice is a bit weaker than before his cancer treatments. He hasn't followed the Maple Leafs too well. Yet his less-than-normal efforts are still better than most U.S. announcers. Unfortunately, they matched up Strader with Brian Boucher, who is horrible. You want the best at playoff time. Boucher will spit out the obvious and give the non-Canadian team the benefit of the doubt.
One of Boucher's annoying habits is to say "fortunately" and "unfortunately." National announcers learn to say "fortunately for [player or team]." Even though Boucher has worked nationally for some time, he hasn't learned to view things nationally. Not surprisingly, Boucher pulls this off so that the non-Canadian team benefits the vast majority of the time. You don't feel good the few times the Canadian team gets the bounce because it's still supposed to be a national game. Can we create a situation where Strader can be heard but Boucher blocked out?
"Well, the Oilers hoping to still be playing when the Eskimos have their first preseason game here on June 11."
Brendan Burke has been good in the Edmonton series. The CFL love definitely helps. Burke is loud but hasn't annoyed me. My threshold is pretty low. The Esks host the Calgary Stampeders in preseason action at Commonwealth Stadium June 11. Mike Johnson was clearly missed from the Rogers telecasts. NBC should have brought him in sooner. I would give Dave Randorf the edge over Burke, but NBC might have had an overall better team in the Edmonton series. Johnson vs. Louie DeBrusk isn't even a close matchup. I would gladly take DeBrusk over Boucher, but again, not saying much.
Gord Miller and Ray Ferraro have been in fine form in the Montréal series. On the NBC Group, they are the best team even with their day job with TSN. With all these U.S.-produced series, having Miller and Ferraro is soooo much better than what NBC could have given us.
NBC had been fearful at putting TSN announcers with Canadian teams until the last Friday of the season. Hopefully, that will be another change next season.
Chris Cuthbert finally got into the NBC playoff mix by calling Game 3 in Columbus with the untalented Brian Boucher yesterday.
Rogers has let CBC take some control of its Sunday night lineup in the playoffs. Rogers needs CBC and not just because the City TV strategy has been a colossal failure. The original 4-year experiment has been renewed for a 5th year.
Scott Moore, president of broadcasting for Rogers Media, told David Shoalts of The Globe and Mail that he would like to extend the CBC relationship and hopes talks begin soon.
The CBC gets $0 on advertising revenue. Yes, Rogers lets the CBC run promos for its shows. As we've seen, the CBC doesn't get the full 6 promos in each game. All in-break promos air at the end of the periods, when the audience is the smallest. And we saw in the last Saturday of the season, Rogers ran a paid promo just before the CBC promo. The CBC needs ad revenue and the network can make some money of a Sunday night of entertainment as opposed to Game 3 of the Montréal Canadiens series.
CBC won't show any NHL games in the first 4 Sunday nights of the playoffs to run We Are Canada, Anne, and Canada: The Story of Us. The CBC might get some Game 6 and Game 7 telecasts depending on how the first round finishes.
If nothing else, the CBC should jack up the rent on the studio Rogers uses in the CBC headquarters along the lines of sharply higher rent increases in Toronto housing.
The NBC Group is producing national broadcasts instead of using local simulcasts from its owned cable outlets. However, they are using the local feed with local graphics on its Chicago, Washington, and San Jose telecasts. The camera angles and shots in the crowd aren't lining up with what you would expect from a national feed.
Chicago and San Jose are bad but Washington is the worst. For all our talk about Rogers being cheap, Comcast is putting them to shame. The U.S. deal allows for local telecasts; the Canadian deal does not. Since the national feeds are going into the local markets, NBC feels the need to produce national telecasts but as cheap as possible.
Running CBC simulcasts for the Toronto and Edmonton opening round games would be cheaper and look and sound a hell of a lot better.
With West Coast starts pushed back due to overtime in the East, NBC Sports streaming has been a godsend … when it works. Your mileage may vary but here is what I got so far.
- Wednesday — couldn't get the San Jose-Edmonton feed to come up at all
- Thursday — got the Calgary-Anaheim feed for awhile, ran a few promos, came back but lost video before the anthem, lost audio part way thru anthem. Feed didn't come back until just before tipoff
- Friday — couldn't get signal until seconds before tipoff
- Saturday — feed worked fine including anthems
- Sunday — not needed since game started on time on TV
Calgary got zero love from NBCSN and little love from the NHL Network, going from November 21 to the final Friday without a single telecast. So what did we get from the first NBC intermission in a Calgary game? Very little time but every second of the coverage went to Anaheim. The Flames even scored a goal in the period but no replay or analysis.
The second intermission focused only on Matthew Tkachuk and how he likes to confront opposing players. U.S. fans can't learn much about the Flames if you go out of your way to ignore the team. The NBC Group carried the CBC feed; they should have run the CBC intermission if they can't even do a poor job.
The Ottawa Senators were on NBC from Ottawa. The shots of Ottawa from NBC were very unimaginative and stayed within a block radius of Parliament. The shot above came from Rogers Sportsnet, a gorgeous shot of the Ottawa River at sunset. A standing offer to NBC: fly me to Ottawa. I will shoot beautiful shots of Ottawa to use in your telecasts.
Still, glad NBC was in Ottawa. Next season, invite NBCSN to show a Sens game, home or away.
Kenny Albert and Joe Micheletti, a mix of New York Rangers announcers, called Game 2 of the Ottawa series on NBC. They did a rather decent job. Pierre McGuire will be at ice level in Boston for Game 3 of the Ottawa series in Boston.
Somehow a playoff game got all 6 CBC promos. While the NBC Group has been flooding us with U.S. telecasts, the Calgary Flames are exempt so far.
The 3 Sunday night shows got 2 promos each. The Story of Us has been justifiably criticized for some content choices, so the What's Your Story promos are ways to draw the audience into a conversation that the U.S. audience has no idea what is happening. We got a curling substitution in Game 2.
The Anne promos do help out with the U.S. audience for the Netflix debut on May 12.
The 1st period of Game 2 ran on the NHL Network in the United States due to the Toronto Game 2 overtime win.
Calgary Game 1: Anne; What's Your Story (1st); We Are Canada; Anne (2nd); What's Your Story; We Are Canada (3rd)
Calgary Game 2: Anne; What's Your Story (1st); Grand Slam of Curling; Anne (2nd); What's Your Story; We Are Canada (3rd)
photo credits: all through NHL: photo 1: NBCSN; photo 2: USA; photos 3, 6: CBC via NBCSN; photo 4: NBC; photo 5: Rogers Sportsnet