A Hull of way to go out
Know that show The 4400? I don't know what it's about, but there are like 4400 people who have been abducted by aliens or UFOs or some such thing and there are commercials for it like 4,400 times a day. Anyway, I feel like I'm living in a show called 400. I think I'm one of the final 400 people in the U.S. who still follows the NHL. But every day it's getting harder and harder.
The latest reason for wanting to bail on hockey is a rumor, but appears to be a pretty strong rumor: Brett Hull is out as an NBC analyst after one year. Partner Ray Ferraro went on a radio station in Vancouver and said Hull was being let go. Sounds pretty reliable. And pretty disgusting.
Hull is candid. Honest. Refreshing. Not afraid to criticize anyone and everyone. He's hockey's version of Johnny Miller, who is loved at NBC -- and for good reason. He's candid. Honest. Refreshing. And not afraid to criticize anyone and everyone.
The problem isn't with Hull, it's with studio host Bill Clement. See, Hull has a chance to be to American television hockey what the outrageously-outspoken Don Cherry is to Canadian television. But partly what makes Cherry work is his partner and host Ron MacLean. MacLean knows how to push and prod Cherry, how to reign him in and set him free. He knows how to set him up.
For an analogy closer to this country, think of Howard Cosell on Monday Night Football. Part of what made Cosell, the New York lawyer, work was the banter between him and good-ole-boy Dandy Don Meredith.
It's true. At times, the exchanges between Clement and Hull were awkward. But I think that was more Clement's fault than Hull's. I don't think Clement knows how to set up Hull, how to react to what Hull says and take him another step or two forward. Often, Hull's comments were met with blank stares or meek, vanilla responses.
I like Clement. I think he knows his stuff. But I think he's better as a game analyst than a studio host. As a player, Hull was known as a prolific goal scorer. But he always had players to set him up. As an analyst, he needed the same thing -- someone to set him up.
The prevailing rumor is Jeremy Roenick, another outspoken player, will be the next one in the analyst chair at NBC. But unless some other changes are made, Roenick won't be the next Don Cherry. He'll be the next Brett Hull.