Monday, June 18, 2018
TV and Radio_sports

Shooting from lip: NHL outdoor games overdone

Most overdone

I love hockey. I love outdoor hockey. The Winter Classic has become one of my favorite events of the year.

But do we need more than one a season?

The NHL's Winter Classic was held this year at Michigan Stadium, and that was great. The snow and cold made the game look like it was being played in a snow globe.

But then the NHL's outdoor Stadium Series got under way over the weekend with the Ducks and Kings playing at Dodger Stadium on Saturday night and the Devils and Rangers playing Sunday afternoon at Yankee Stadium. The Devils-Rangers game was delayed 90 minutes for safety reasons because the sun's glare off the ice blinded the players.

The Rangers host the Islanders on Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium, the Blackhawks and Penguins play at Soldier Field in Chicago on March 1, and the Senators play the Canucks at BC Place in Vancouver on March 2.

Typical NHL. They come up with a great idea and then pound it into the ground so that it doesn't become special anymore. In theory, a bunch of outdoor games sounds great, but in reality, it stops being special after the first outdoor game.

However, I will say this: I don't know that I've seen anything cooler lately during a sporting event than when NBC put a camera on a referee's helmet Sunday and allowed viewers an incredible view of a controversial call on a goal and the subsequent meeting with the other officials right after the goal.

Oh, one other smart thing NBC did over the weekend that it hasn't done for past Winter Classics is put someone in the stands to talk to fans and celebrities. Jeremy Roenick, who is a bit of a wing nut (in a good way), was perfect for that role. It's also impressive that he called the game Saturday night in California then Sunday afternoon in New York.

Still, give me the Winter Classic and keep the rest of the games indoors.

Worst weather

Did you watch any of the outdoor hockey game at Yankee Stadium? In case you didn't, the game was played just a few miles from where the Super Bowl will be played Sunday. The weather during the hockey game: a strong passing snow shower and temperatures in the teens with a feels-like temperature in single digits by game's end. Yeah, good luck with that Super Bowl.

Best reaction

So what did Don Shula, the NFL's all-time victories leader among coaches, think when he heard the Super Bowl was coming to New York?

"Why?" Shula told

Best fit

Looks as if carrying the English Premier League is working out well for NBCSN. Last week's Chelsea-Manchester United soccer match drew 1.019 million viewers, the best ever on the network and the second-best ever on cable in the United States. ESPN drew 1.033 million for a Manchester United-Manchester City match in 2012.

Best candidates

The NFL loves having teams appear on HBO's Hard Knocks, which is a four-part, behind-the-scenes look at a team during training camp. Problem is, the teams don't love it. No one wants to do it. So the NFL put together some guidelines. Teams that do not have to do it include teams that have made the playoffs in the past two years, teams with new head coaches and those who have already appeared on the show.

That means the Bucs do not have to do it this season because they just hired a head coach.

So which teams are eligible to do it? There are eight: Bears, Bills, Cardinals, Giants, Jaguars, Raiders, Rams and Steelers.

The NFL also passed another rule last year: If no one volunteers, the league can force a team do it.

The Giants and Steelers likely would be at the top of HBO's list. Both are marquee teams with large national followings.

Worst coaches

After watching Esquire's Friday Night Tykes, a show about youth football, I don't see how anyone would ever let their children play football. Not only because it's violent, but because there are too many idiot adult coaches out there.

I'd love to see a couple of those coaches laid out, have the snot knocked out of them and left quivering on the ground and then we can question their toughness with obscenities.

This show about 8- and 9-year-olds is difficult to watch. I'm not sure if Esquire TV should be applauded or criticized for airing this program. But I do know this: With uncaring coaches and demanding parents, it's everything that is wrong with youth sports.

Best quote

Chicago Tribune sports media critic Ed Sherman profiled ESPN2's Skip Bayless, who just might be the most polarizing person in sports television.

Bayless said: "I'm so comfortable in my skin because in my heart I know I put in the hours and I am a sports nut. That's what people can't understand. I watch games a little differently, maybe, than other people do, because I'm constantly asking myself why did that happen, what's really going on here?"

Biggest change

Sports Illustrated is reporting that Brent Musburger could be out as the lead announcer for ESPN/ABC college football. The feeling is Musburger is being pulled from his spot alongside Kirk Herbstreit on Saturday Night Football. He could end up calling games on the new SEC Network.

Who would replace him? Perhaps Chris Fowler, who hosts College GameDay.

First, the Musburger part. He will be 75 next football season, although I still think he's on top of his game. Plenty of viewers don't like him, but those who don't probably never liked him. To me, if Musburger announces, "You are looking live …" you know you're about to watch a big game, and I think ESPN/ABC would be making a mistake in removing him.

As far as Fowler, there is a bit of a hang-up. Fowler likely would have to give up his GameDay hosting gig and ESPN might be nervous about monkeying with such a popular show.

That's where Rece Davis comes in. The ESPN veteran could either replace Musburger in the booth or take over for Fowler on GameDay.

My suggestion to fix all this? Leave Musburger in the booth and Fowler on GameDay and Davis alongside Mark May and Lou Holtz on Saturday afternoons in the studio.

Best local shout-out

New York Daily News baseball columnist Bill Madden writes that by signing Grant Balfour, trading for catcher Ryan Hanigan and re-signing James Loney and David DeJesus, the Rays were among baseball's offseason winners and solidified themselves as "bona fide postseason contenders."

Three things that popped into my head

1. Seems to me like a good Olympics for the United States would be to have all of its athletes, officials and fans come home safe and sound.

2. The Gators are starting to look like a Final Four team.

3. Great job by ESPN to assign two women — Beth Mowins and Kara Lawson — to call a men's game between Brigham Young and Gonzaga. Why? Because they are two good announcers, that's why.

tom jones' two cents

Tampa Bay Times sports columnist Tom Jones looks back at a weekend of televised sports.


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