Monday, July 30, 2007

Ron Maclean is a Joke and other items

There’s been a “mild” shakeup at Hockey Night In Canada, which is too bad because we all know that what’s needed is a major one.

Bob Cole and Harry Neale are being brought back but in a reduced role where they will no longer be the number one broadcasting team for Saturday nights. This is obviously due to the rising tide of complaints, most of them from Ottawa fans, who feel that Cole and Neale are unable to competently call games anymore, due to the persistent mangling of player names as well as their reputation as homers for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

It’s hard to criticize Cole who has been such a presence for years on the Hockey Night institution but he has obviously regressed in his play by play abilities. If it’s not a Leaf player, then Cole seems to have trouble recognizing him and also has trouble mounting any kind of enthusiasm for anything other than a Leaf goal. Maybe it’s not his fault. For years, the CBC has made the Leafs number one priority for its national broadcasts and it backfired on them when the Senators made it to the finals and nobody in the country knew who the hell they were. Because of this, the CBC lost a shitload of viewers who are more used to the Leafs storming out of the gates in the first round and then dying a painful death to the Flyers or Devils thereafter.

So we can now expect more Sens national broadcasts but instead of Cole and Neale calling them, it will be Jim Hughson and Greg Millen who until now have called the west coast games for the latter half of the Saturday night double-header. Hughson is definitely an upgrade but now we get stuck with Greg Millen who is only really capable of complaining about the officiating. In fact, the entire CBC hockey organization has made it a point to try and sabotage the new NHL rules against interference. Ron Maclean actually surpasses Millen in moral outrage, using every opportunity he gets to lambaste the officials who are ruining “our game”. He just won’t let it go.

There is a sentiment out there that Gary Bettman pushed through these rules to increase scoring and ultimately to appease American broadcasters. For some reason, people are aghast at this. Remember the NHL before the lockout? It was terrible. It was turning into soccer. But it didn’t matter to the CBC people because ratings in Canada had never been higher. But the league cannot survive on Canadian support alone. Only 6 out of 30 franchises are in the north. The game is not “ours” anymore. Nor should it be.

European and American players make up more than 50 percent of the players in the league but the only ones who are glorified by Maclean and Don Cherry are the Canadian grinders. They elevate the personalities of people like Tie Domi and Darcy Tucker over the obvious choices in Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin so much that it has brainwashed the average Canadian hockey fan into thinking that their teams need to be filled with fourth liners with “character”. Don Cherry calls Sidney Crosby a “hotdog” every chance he gets and his insipid host Ron Maclean lets him get away with it.

Come on!

As I see it, the CBC should let Cole and Neale retire gracefully, put a muzzle on Maclean, dump Millen and let him stay on Leafs TV, bring back Chris Cuthbert at the first opportunity and increase exposure of Kelly Hrudey, Gary Galley and other new bloods. OK, you gotta keep Cherry because he’s entertaining but let’s quit with the whole “our game” business. It’s bloody irrelevant.

1 comment:

Teebz said...

Slow down, Jeremy.

The MacLean-Cherry schtick works because of their relationship.

MacLean only goes after Gary Bettman and Colin Campbell due to some of the more bewildering decisions being handed down from the league offices.

"Only 6 out of 30 franchises are in the north. The game is not 'ours' anymore. Nor should it be"... excuse me? Are you serious? When 6 teams bring in 40% of the NHL revenue, it sure as hell is our game, and it will remain our game until Canada no longer exists.

"European and American players make up more than 50 percent of the players in the league"... meaning what? Does it matter that a Canadian game is played by people all over the world? Does it matter that Cherry pushes the hard-working players who spend a pile of time doing the dirty work? That's his schtick!

"Don Cherry calls Sidney Crosby a 'hotdog' every chance he gets"... he also called him tough for playing on a broken foot during the playoffs, and praised him pretty highly as the youngest player to score 200 points.

As much as you're right about Cole and Neale, you're dead wrong on some other points. And "our game" is completely relevant to those of us who love it.