Monday, April 14, 2008

Vs. is a disaster

What comes out of this animal's ass/what fills Gary Bettman's brain

(a better use for Sean Avery)

I'm not going to make any snarky comments about the Vs. in-studio show, because I don't watch it, and don't generally care to watch any in-studio shows unless Butch Goring and a baggie of Angel Dust are involved, but I am going to do my best to address this debacle (and, with all apologies to Tom Glavine, I firmly understand that amongst life's matters of importance, this does not register ... but this is a hockey blog and the NHL is a business that generates billions (millions?) of dollars, so I will not ignore stupidity when it is displayed).

Vs. is showing the Red Wings/Predators tonight, in New York, whilst the Penguins/Senators are playing.

In some strange way I am grateful if only because this will save me from the inevitable headache a Vs. in-game broadcast brings, but really, I wanted to see the Penguins and Senators play their hockey game tonight. There are myriad reasons. Among them, I live on the East Coast and am therefore exposed to these teams to a greater degree than I am the Predators and Red Wings (which is not to say I don't want to see that game either. I do. In fact, given the choice to watch both games I may have ended up watching the Wings/Preds because it turns out to be a better game). Genny Malkin, Sidney Crosby, Heatley, Fleury, and the graceful ballet of Jason Spezza are others.

I remember, in the salad days, when ESPN would constantly, incessantly, unforgivably choose to show a Red Wings/Anybody playoff game on their national broadcast, fucking blacking out a regional game and pissing off everyone. Bettman apparently was equally as pissed off as the fans, because he moved the league to Vs., and subsequently started a network for the league (the NHL Network), to avoid this problem and the many others generated by ESPN (like, um, well, let's see, I've got to ... there weren't any besides the owners not getting the sweetheart deal they wanted coming out of the lockout).

And -- get this -- at the time of the decision, although I disagreed on economic principle (which, because I know less about economics than your pets, doesn't carry a lot of weight), I didn't mind the idea of a smaller network taking hockey into its cradle and treating the game with all of the passion you would expect from a channel that previously showed fishing and hunting shows.

But what we have now is the same coverage we had on ESPN, with worse production values, no daily 30-minute highlight show (broadcast even on off days during the high point of the ESPN/NHL relationship), and bull riding for a bookend.

Vs. can't go regional? Fine. Put the Fucking Penguins game on the NHL Network, the league's Very Own Station, instead of showing the Top 10 Saves of 1993. And, (dear fictional reader) don't tell me there's a licensing issue, or blackout issue, or something else I have to Google, keeping the game off of the Network -- fix it. Or -- and I may regret writing this -- give me a $50 Centre Ice option to watch the home broadcast of every playoff game.

Get creative. If freedom is having nothing to lose, I would say the NHL has some freedom in the American TV/Internet market.

(leaving you on a better note ...)

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