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Member Since 30 May 2003
Offline Last Active Sep 23 2010 04:27 AM

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Why Is Hockey Media Analysis So Bad?

07 June 2003 - 10:01 AM

When I watch basketball, baseball, and football, the other major sports in North America, I am always struck by how perceptive the announcers and commentators are in general. We see analysis of plays, diagrams, specific reasons for wins and losses, and just an overall better product.

Hockey, on the other hand, has largely atrocious coverage in the USA. I always wondered why I could never participate in truly intellectual hockey discussions. I've been following the sport for years. Basically, it's my fault that I've bought into the drivel ESPN gives us. Here is all I have learned about hockey from ESPN:

1) If the power play isn't working, keep it simple and shoot the puck.
2) Put traffic in front of the goalie.
3) Trap = clogging the neutral zone. Don't skate through.
4) Bang bodies out there and stir up your team.
5) Those guys are tired; they need a shift change.
6) Goalies shouldn't give up bad rebounds.
7) Great save ... he makes it look easy.
8) If your team is losing, change up your lines to create a spark.

And some player-specific expertise:

1) Sakic has a great wrist shot.
2) Giguere makes every save look easy. (I wonder why ...)
3) Brodeur is SO GOOD at controlilng the puck. (I won't tell you what he is doing; I'll just salivate over him.) Dump the puck in AWAY from him.
4) Madden is SO DANGEROUS shorthanded.
5) Cechmanek is not dependable in the playoffs.

I could go on, but you get the idea. Where exactly is their expertise? I could write a computer program to randomly spew out these comments. In fact, that's precisely what they do in sports video games. Anybody can make these comments. They aren't WRONG, but they are hardly insightful. It's just rehashing what every fan has already heard for years. Perhaps I am not being fair ... they have done bits on how to win faceoffs, since they decided to make such a big deal out of them. And I learned about one set play ... win faceoff to person who shoots. Yay.

Thankfully, this year I realized I knew nothing, and tried to read a lot. I learned about all the details ... how the trap works, how to beat the trap, how coaches build various set plays, how and why those set plays work, why specific line adjustments are made, how exactly to get a goalie to move around, how to make physical play work, etc etc. With a lot of these concepts getting 'name dropped' so often, you think there would be some detailed analysis to accompany it.

Some of the analysts here are not bad. I think JD is decent. My hockey knowledge has increased listening to him. Canada's analysts, even though many have already decided this series is not worth it, are noticing and finding the subtle coaching adjustments and changes, and are then telling the fans about them. I always watch the clips on TSN.ca, as well as the Coach's Corner clips on CBC.ca. Every time I watch, I learn something.

If we really want to make hockey more interesting, we have GOT to get better analysts. They are dumbing the game down. No wonder they have nothing to say and are bored (and boring) to tears.