Note: The top 3 in my list of 10 reasons to love the playoffs will only be published on palhalpall.blogspot.com
5) Goofy playoff traditions
There are several hockey playoff traditions that we all know and love: playoff beards, series-ending handshakes, not touching the conference championship trophy, etc. You can even count the more recent tradition of teams throwing games against the Sharks throughout the regular season to set them up for a playoff upset - kind of like making the biggest dork in school feel like he's cool and popular until the prom, where you strip him naked and beat him like a pinata while he cries and wets himself.
These traditions are all quirky and funny and actually add some character to the game of hockey. As such, you can bet there is a faction out there that's lobbying to abandon them at the earliest opportunity. Their reasoning would most certainly be that "other league's don't do it, and if baseball fans tune in and see something they're not used to, it will confuse them and scare them away". In fact on April 12, Steve Simmons actually suggested that playoff beards should be outlawed because the players aren't pretty enough to "sell the game" (ugh). Perhaps we need a new playoff tradition: ballgagging these dimwits for the greater good of the game.
4) More games on Hockey Night in Canada
As we all know, HNiC does one game per week during the regular season, leaving the rest to Sportsnet, TSN, and for Leaf fans, LeafsTV. And while the former two do an admirable job (LeafsTV is bloody awful and does nothing but make me hate myself even more for being a Leaf fan), HNiC is indesputably the best game in town.
Of course, like too many things about hockey, HNiC used to be even better. Over the years, we've lost Harry Neale and gained the nothing-special Greg Millen and the very good but a little too serious Craig Simpson, and we've seen Jim Hughson replace the immortal Bob Cole as the CBC's ace hockey broadcaster. Hughson's very good at his job, there's no denying that, but he can also be kind of annoying, his delivery is not as smooth as Mr. Cole's, and he's been around long enough that he can ditch the California surfer look and start aging with dignity already.
On the plus side, Don Cherry and Mike Milbury add tons of personality to the show, Ron Maclean is simply the best host in the business, and P.J. Stock routinely makes us feel smarter. And while they take a lot of heat for being almost completely pro-fighitng, such criticism cannot be taken seriously given how staunchly anti-fighting pretty well everyone in the print media and on the radio currently is.
Unfortunately it's not all good news: we still have to endure way too much of TSN's goldenboy Pierre McGuire during the postseason. Is there anyone more irritating in broadcasting aside from maybe Chico Resh? Sure, McGuire knows hockey, I'll begrudgingly give him that, but he has way too many flaws as a broadcaster. For one, he talks far too much. Maybe it's because he's American or is used to doing American broadcasts, but he seems to think the audience is relying on his insight to understand the fundamentals of the game. Also, he talks too loud. A good colour commentator should be the yin to the play-by-play man's yang: quiet, even-tempered, slightly detached, and in posession of a dry wit. Harry Neale had it down pat, but McGuire talks a mile a minute, screams things like "Wow!" or "That's a penalty!" as if trying to prove that he's on top of things, and too much of what he says is just filler. He's also really awkward when he's trying to be funny or personable, as you will see at 1:50 of the following clip:
To see clip, go to http://palhalpall.blogspot.com/2009/05/top-10-reasons-to-love-playoffs-5-4.html
So let's hope the Minnesota Wild hire this guy as their GM and make TSN broadcasts a little more watchable. And while we're on the subject, there are several other things TSN should change. For one, they can stop overplaying the HNiC theme song. It's nice for them that they've got it, but I don't have to hear it 500 times per broadcast: it loses it's charm that way. Also, they've got to stop being cute with their camera angles, particularly the endzone one they use during power plays: it makes me dizzy and adds nothing.