There has been much ballyhoo these last few days regarding the replacement of Hockey Night in Canada’s host George Stroumboulopoulos with “he who had been replaced“, namely the venerable Ron MacLean. One can find many reason’s for this re-replacement, but essentially, the ratings were down. This is most likely the single biggest driving force behind any change a large television corporation makes. It wants to make as much money as it can and it’ll change whatever it has to to make the dollars. But why were the ratings down? From a beer swiller’s point of view, I’ll tell ya.

Stroumboulopoulos had no hockey history. He’s played street hockey like a bajillion other kids in North America, but by his own admission, only started ice skating a few years ago… but he likes to watch hockey. Nice. His contemporary?… MacLean is a former Level 5 referee with Hockey Canada. I mean, yeah, I like to watch hockey too, but ain’t nobody wanna pay me the dollars to hear me talk about it, and neither would I… but I would like to hear about it from someone who has some professional experience… shit, even a Zamboni driver has more than George. But he loves hockey. And talking… boy was he enthusiastic about talking… and skinny, shiny suits… unfortunately for Roger’s I try not to watch anything that has a guy in a suit so tight I can literally count the change in his pocket.

The actual broadcast wasn’t too mangled. Satisfactory play by play could be had in every broadcast by Jim Hughson, Bob Cole, et al (and even the Punjabi boys). But the color-commentating?… good christ. Galley, Millen and Garret I can take, but they do tend to become homers rather quickly and frequently and that shit should just stop. As far as I can tell the rest are there to blatantly cheer for whoever they want. It’s terrible, there’s a shit-pile of statistics available to them to talk about, but do they? DO THEY? It’s gotten to the point that if I can catch a game broadcast on an American channel, I watch it solely due to the reasonable color commentating (and hearing their accents makes me chuckle at times).

The HNIC Show itself had become some sort of a retarded clown circus. It was just not good and I had become unable to watch the pre-game nor the intermissions (set the timer!). Nick Kypreos? P.J. Stock? Glen Healy? Kelly Hrudey? Are you kidding me? A bunch of old white guys who’s professional career’s were at best middle of the road mediocre are telling me how players who are infinitely better than themselves should be playing? Hell, they are even telling me what elite players were thinking! I smell bullshit. Hearing phrases like”the goalie never had a chance” when the puck was in front of him and he could see it gave me a case of the red-ass. It’s no better analysis than I could get from the guy on the next bar stool, without the expensive computer-generated ice-floor and Vegas like atmosphere. Elliotte Friedman and Damien Cox must of just feared being on panels with these tits. Thankfully Strombo, Healy and Stock are now gone, but unfortunately it looks like Cox too. I was hoping he or Friedman would actually replace that bigoted Coaches Corner segment with something thoughtful and intelligent. Too bad CTV won’t lend out Pierre Lebrun or Bob McKenzie…

Perhaps a huge sticking point with me and Sportsnet’s exclusive broadcasting rights is the fact that you can rarely watch a game. Sure, there’s lot’s of them listed as being broadcasted, but tune into a Toronto/Buffalo game on your TV in Vancouver?… forget that, BLACKED OUT! Other than a couple games a week, they all seem to be regionally blacked out. I realize this might not entirely be their problem, but hey, kind’a hard to get ratings when I can’t see your show…

Finally, there are 30 NHL teams, soon to be 31, with some teams located in pretty strange places. Plus the games go into June. JUNE. It’s too many teams with a diluted player base playing too goddamn long. Anything after April and I could care less, the killing winter has all but retreated and I can once again go outside. TV off. Now I know there’s nothing Sportsnet can do about that, but it is a reason I stop watching their show…

So other than somehow accruing the power to shorten the NHL Season, there’s some really easy fixes Sportsnet had to apply to improve their ratings. They took the first big step and cut Stroumboulopoulos free. Now if they simply give their heads a shake and straighten out the rest of the HNIC “associates” and actually let me see some games, they might have a watchable show this year.

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