Thursday, September 9, 2010

Senators Have Best Team Off The Ice

While it's bad news for Senators fans that Garry Galley is leaving the team's Sportsnet broadcasts to join Hockey Night In Canada full-time, his replacement, Hall of Famer Denis Potvin, isn't too shabby.

You can kind of look at it like the Sens losing Anton Volchenkov but gaining Sergei Gonchar this summer. You lose a young guy in his prime but you gain an experienced vet who's going to bring another dimension to the broadcast booth.

Well, that's a tad corny, but you get my meaning.

If you've had the pleasure of having the NHL Centre Ice package (and the displeasure of having to pay Rogers Cable a fortune for it), you likely have seen at least a few Florida Panthers games over the years (then again, maybe not - even NHL diehards likely watch the Panthers as a last resort) and Potvin was always a calm voice of reason during those telecasts for the large part of a decade. He was also pretty good at the often moribund NHL Network and their dreary highlight show On The Fly.

It's going to be interesting to hear the kind of chemistry he creates with lead play-by-play man Dean Brown. While Galley was more bubbly than Potvin will ever be, it may actually improve the balance a little because Brown tends to act like a colour commentator half the time with his dry humour and elongated stories while Potvin is more old-school and laid back. It should work fairly well in my opinion.

With Potvin coming aboard, Ottawa remains blessed with likely the top group of hockey related TV and radio personalities in the country. I've lived in each of Canada's four biggest cities in the past 15 years and Ottawa's current lot is still the best in my opinion. Toronto may have the quantity, but not many as likable as the Sens crew.

The best, in no particular order:

Ian Mendes (Sportsnet): It's rare for a modern analyst to be fair to a fault and actively try to present the players point of view instead of being comfortably cynical in their approach, yet Mendes achieves this with ease.

Dean Brown (various): Who doesn't like Dean Brown? His jokes may be corny, but he can call a mean game and knows way more about the NHL than he lets on. He's been around so long that we tend to take him for granted, but he's one of the best in the league at what he does.

Dave "The Voice" Schreiber (Team 1200): He's in a league with legendary Sabres play-by-play man Rick Jeanneret in terms of excitement while calling a game. When the Senators score, even your grandma knows about it (actually my Granny watches every single Sens game and loves Chris Kelly!).

Gord Wilson (Team 1200): He's been here with Dean Brown since the first modern day Sens game and he's one of the best when he gets really wound up. Of all the guys who calls games in this town, he's the one you can most likely picture having a cold one while he does it. He comes across as just really loving the game and is worth the listen just for him calling a big scrap on the ice. He makes it sound like Ali vs Frasier every time.

Steve Lloyd  (Team 1200): One half of the best radio show in town, the Healthy Scratches, and the host of the Sens pre-game show, Lloyd always seems equally comfortable holding court with big names like Bob McKenzie, jokesters like co-host Jason York, or the mixed bag of reporters who snipe at each other before Sens games on the Team 1200. I got on him a little last year for his non-stop coverage of "hits to the head", but he's probably the smartest of all the local hockey guys and is never boring to listen to.

Jason York (Team 1200): Who knew this dude would be so good? He doesn't seem to care too much and that's likely the secret of his success. He still has that player's locker room mentality where everyone gets a nickname and gets razzed a little bit. And then he'll come out with a totally reasonable and smart observation that only an ex-player could give the fans. I find he's almost always on the money with his analysis when he finds the time to give it. Don't underestimate Yorkie. He could go far and let's hope he doesn't ever change his laid back ways.

Honorable mention to John Rodenburg who seems to be a smart hockey guy but hosts a morning show that is traditionally more about comedy than sports.


Senators Lost Cojones said...

Sorry Jeremy, you lost me at Gord Wilson.

With the possible exceptions of my wedding day and the night I lost my virginity (contrary to popular belief, NOT one in the same), never have I been happier than when I heard A-Channel had lost the local broadcast, thus banishing Gordo to whatever special hell is reserved for clueless blowhards who WON'T. SHUT. THE. FUCK. UP!!

Not having to suffer through another season of Wilsonian homerisms or being subjected to his particular talent of talking a replay through the ensuing five minutes of live action until you would gladly impale a puppy with a sharpened spoon if it meant he would finally just stop, was sweet indeed.

Cool with the Mendes thing though.

Anonymous said...

The Potvin announcement got me thinking about the different broadcast teams as well. I think that we're lucky in Ottawa. Dean Brown and whoever they put, are infinitely better than Joe Bowen. Aside from Greg Millen, the Leaf broadcast team is brutal.

I think the Leaf beat writers do a better job than our guys, though. So, I guess it evens out.

I look forward to Potvin. But, for me, Galley is the best in the biz. CBC should replace Craig Simpson with Galley on their number one unit for the playoffs.

I gotta disagree with the honorable mention to TGOR. Nothing personal against the guy, but that show needs a refresh. It feels very 1980-ish.

Jeremy Milks said...

Lost Cojones... I can see how Gord Wilson could turn some people off, much like Pierre McGuire. I like both to be honest, but I know people who can't stand McGuire.

Anon... I think the world of Galley as well. Big loss for our hockey coverage. As for TGOR, I was giving the honorable mention to JR in particular, not really the show. But I don't mind the show itself. It's mostly lame but once in a while it's kinda funny, if unintentionally. All morning radio shows are like that on commercial stations now. Everyone has to be "wacky" and wired on coffee etc. I'm willing to bet it's easily the highest rated segment on the station, but I could be wrong.


KJ said...

@Lost Cojenes.

Disagree with you on Wilson. Bet you didn't know he is paid to be a homer. Still, I don't have a problem with that. I wish more media types were homers actually, and promote the local team. Trouble is most of the Ottawa media are not actually Ottawa fans.


Pretty much agree with your list, especially Yorkie and Mendes!

My only critique would be JR. I think he is just a fan, more than a hockey pundit. Actually, all the guys on TGOR are more fans with opinions than hockey/sports expertise. But hey, to each his own.

The guys I can't stand to listen to at all, are Versage, and Kulka.


Pierre said...

Jeremy, nice blog but boy do we part ways at Wilson.

Wilson, like Brown, takes the team's fortunes FAR too personally. While they have excellent moments, they are best kept separate, lest they devolve into:

"Ohhh Dean, there's Ms. Starklekist in row 3, from Orilla Ontario. Her husband owns a small confectionary on Newton St."

*girlish giggles from both*

(Meanwhile, the other team had an atttempted breakaway thwarted and our team is setting up a passing play)

Ian Mendes is WAY too much of a homer. While he writes great blogs, I've joked to Team 1200 (Where he sometimes hosts) that he wears Senators pajamas and that's not far wrong. I'd like him a lot more if he could...take a step back and be occasionally critical.

I LOVE <3 Steve Lloyd. He is objective! He'll actually offer an opposing viewpoint and argue it intelligently. This guy is great, so glad he hasn't left for Toronto or an American market.

Jason York: Aaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrgh.

"Steve, you're like Brett Favre with the big announcement. Did I tell you about the Lu Lu Lemon jumpsuit my wife got? There's nothing wrong with the Senators, how are they not a top 1 team in the East? Let me tell you about the Gator golf club."

Aaaaaaargh redux. Seriously, it was so bad this week that I tuned into for sports news and I LIVE IN OTTAWA. Too much dead air from Jason York and even from Phil Melanson at times.

Like...Melanson went on a tour of all the baseball stadiums and...we never HEARD about the stadiums or the games. It was all about his nights out in bars, sigh.

I LOVE John Rodenburg (J.R.) When he was on the afternoon show, I think with Steve Lloyd but it may have been with someone else, it was awesome. He asked hard questions of Senators staff, didn't wave pompoms and was just solid as a rock.

For TV:

I generally loathe Millen but he's been ok. I actually loved Galley. He was a homer but he wasn't CRAZY about it. I listen to the RDS broadcasts at times as they're fairly good.

Anyway, thanks for letting us react...