Hockey Night In Canada on the CBC is celebrating its 60th anniversary and one thing they've become known for is their video montages. The opening night of the 2013 NHL season was no different.
There are a lot of things that Hockey Night In Canada does really well. If you've ever watched literally almost any other broadcast, the angles used don't hold a candle to HNIC. They do amazing montages such as the one above which features Aerosmith's Dream On which I consider one of the best for montage. But I'm also watching this new panel and it is a trainwreck. I appreciate that Ron MacLean is their big ticket guy and he at least has a firm control over the panel (him pre-emptively shushing Healy with just a finger was pretty awesome) and Elliotte Friedman is obviously a favourite. However, five guys is just too many.
They had issues last year with four so I am not sure why they added a fifth. They took PJ Stock off of highlights and brought in Andi Petrillo so the recitation of highlights and tweets are in the steady hands of someone with more experience in that role. I don't think it's a good reflection on the CBC that the first women in HNIC's studio group is relegated to showing highlights and reading tweets but it sure doesn't help that the cameraman keeps panning back to the panel so that there is a good shot of her backside before framing the panel properly. When I mentioned it on twitter the most common reply was either a comment on the quality of her posterior or a question about when we might see a .gif of it which is to be expected but you'd hope that if it bothers her that someone would have a word with the cameraman. Not that there isn't a long history of cameramen making sketchy decisions but CBC is better than that.
As for the three panellists, I think CBC is in a tough spot. Stock and Weekes seem like good guys so I can see why they want to keep them on in some capacity. What I find to be Stock's biggest weakness is that he is extremely excitable. He speaks way too quickly and loses himself in his thoughts every once in a while. Weekes was taken off of some of the western games and then shifted over to Winnipeg and you won't find many fans in any of those markets lamenting his departure. Again, he seems like a personable guy and might be better suited to doing human interest fluff stories for the pre-game and post-game. They just don't carry the journalistic heft that Friedman brings to the table and don't bring any real helpful knowledge of the game like I find most of the former players and management that TSN uses. They don't really fit if the goal is to make a strong, informative panel. Now, if the idea is to have people for Glenn Healy to play off of in his "I am so smart without actually bringing anything useful to the table" schtick then the trio work well. For now, they're drowning out the two guys worth listening to. And the sentiment is popular:
Stock, Healy, and Weekes are literally making no sense.— Pass it to Bulis (@passittobulis) January 20, 2013
that intermission break didn't feature one shot of a female reporter's bumbum. what a ripoff.— ryan lambert (@twolinepass) January 20, 2013
Hockey Night in Canada should probably let @friedgehnic talk more.— Bruce Arthur (@bruce_arthur) January 20, 2013
And @friedgehnic references zone starts and behindthenet on CBC. <3— Corey Pronman (@coreypronman) January 20, 2013
Healy: "Faceoffs are key!" Weekes: "No, faceoffs are paramount!" Stock: "Loud noises!"— Pass it to Bulis (@passittobulis) January 20, 2013
PJ Stock, Glenn Healy and Kevin Weekes are the greatest sports commentary team of our time. Watch and learn, kids.— Noah Love (@noahlove66) January 20, 2013
That may be sarcasm
I think I want every intermission discussion to be about PJ Stock not being able to understand numbers.— Cam Charron (@camcharron) January 20, 2013
The next generation of Coach's Corner needs to be Stock, Healy and Weekes yelling nonsense at one another while Friedman dozes nearby.— Harrison Mooney (@HarrisonMooney) January 20, 2013
Elliotte and Ron should just get out of the way and let PJ/Glenn/Kevin riff for the whole intermission. All I do is learn when they speak.— Noah Love (@noahlove66) January 20, 2013
Don't think that was sincere
Kevin Weekes just said that Nazem Kadri "played with a lot of compassion." Just hugging dudes left and right— Daniel Wagner (@ADanielWagner) January 20, 2013
Friedman with a nice point about sample size, followed by Kevin Weekes': "THIS IS VANCOUVER'S WORST NIGHTMARE"— Cam Charron (@camcharron) January 20, 2013
I can't even ... think about the people Friedman is sharing that desk with. One of them is a diaper salesman.— Sean Gentille (@seangentille) January 20, 2013
In case you've never seen the ad...
Just let Friedman and Weekes handle all the intermissions. Way too many voices with not enough to say.— Jesse Spector (@jessespector) January 20, 2013
And that's ultimately the problem: too many voices that feel pressured to contribute without having anything tangible to build the discussion. That's not to say that I want them to go back to the more extreme version of this arguing for argument's sake that they had last year which replaced likable former players with a loathsome panel (Eric Francis, Mike Milbury, god remember when they had Al Strachan?). Tyler Dellow had some good thoughts on Twitter on the panel especially that there doesn't seem to be an audience for Glenn Healy. He's almost universally reviled by all fanbases. He's bombastic, ill-informed, and managed to lose some debates to Stock and Weekes which isn't saying much.
It's a shame that they've lost Pierre LeBrun but there has to be another guy in the CBC stable that can help. Maybe give Tim Wharnsby a crack at it and bring it back to just four people if not three. As Dellow noted, it's not like CBC doesn't know how to do good panels. They have Andrew Coyne on The National's At Issue panel and that works because the group is a strong one. I don't think we'll see any changes this year but I would imagine there's going to be a big re-organization next summer. It almost makes one long for the lockout.