I was fully prepared to write a thorough critique of NHL Overtime, VERSUS' new hockey analysis show, but it seems a certain blogger who never sleeps beat me to it. Thus, I'll just point out my agreements and disagreements with Mr. Wyshynski, and add a thought or two of my own.
1. Dump The Desk, Ditch The Suits. Wysh is right: Put the talking heads in a more comfortable, casual environment, and let the conversation flow. This show should be a hockey-centric BOGSAT - a Bunch Of Guys Sitting Around Talking about hockey. Taking it a step further, as a viewer, I'd like the ability to text or email questions and have them answered on air. Get current and former players, coaches and management-types on the show, and get them to open up. Last night, for example, while Bill Patrick, Billy Jaffe and Bill Guerin were discussing Scott Gordon's dismissal by the Islanders, I would've loved to ask Guerin, "Bill, you played for the Islanders from 2007-09. Is this organization any less screwed up now than it was when you were there?"
2. Reinvent the highlights. Again, what Wysh said. I thought the first show was too highlight-heavy and analysis-light. If you're going to show highlights, break down a specific play. Don't give us what we can get on Hockey Central or NHL On The Fly. Again, using last night's show as an example, they could've shown Henrik Lundqvist breaking his stick, throwing it, and drawing an Unsportsmanlike Conduct penalty after allowing two goals in 38 seconds, then analyzed the questionable officiating which contributed to King Henrik's outburst...or debated pros and cons of Lundqvist losing his cool...or both.
4. More News, More Up-To-Date News, And More News We Care About. I know I'm starting to sound like a broken record, but...what Wysh said. How can you NOT talk about Colin Campbell's emails? What does Bill Guerin (or better yet, any recently-retired player) think about the "NHL Wheel of Justice"? (really, I'm talking about the NHL's seemingly capricious method of enforcement here, but DGB's flowchart is pure genius) Among other things, I want controversy. I want to know how many players agree with the statement, "NHL officiating is the worst in professional sports". I want to know, if the players voted, would Nick Lidstrom have won all those Norris Trophies? I want discussion and debate of current hockey events which mirrors the intensity and passion of The Great Game itself.
5. Keep Going "On Location". I would've liked a glimpse inside the Rangers' locker room after their come-from-behind OT win last night. Based on Jim Cerny's Tweets, it was quite a scene. Gimme somma dat, VERSUS.
3. Either Drop The Rundown or Steal From ESPN. Un momento, Señor Wyshynski - structuring a hockey show in a three-period format is tragically unhip? I beg to differ, sir. All the best Blog Talk Radio shows featuring guys Jabbering about Hockey use this format.
JURY STILL OUT:
6. Finally, Give Us Copious Amounts of Billy Jaffe. I'll have to see more of Mr. Jaffe before passing judgment. While I liked his energy, he did trip over his tongue a few times. Maybe it was first-night jitters. Time will tell.
BIG TEX'S TAKE:
Along with fewer highlights, more analysis and a more relaxed setting, how about throwing in some college and major junior hockey talk? Maybe pick one Top Prospect for the 2011 Draft each night, show some of his highlights and discuss which of the current NHL bottom-dwellers needs him most? Along the same lines, looking at some of the top AHLers would give fans a glimpse of the future of their franchise. Last, but not least, a smattering of fantasy hockey talk wouldn't hurt. After all, the majority of people who will stay up until midnight Eastern to watch NHL Overtime have at least one fantasy team. Give 'em a good tip or two for players to start (or bench) for tomorrow nights' games.
Of greater importance than the content of the show, the Monday night premiere of NHL Overtime on VERSUS sent a message: NHL, VERSUS loves you with all its' corporate heart, and wants you back next year. And the next. And the year after that. Do you think ESPN would put an hour-long NHL show on The Mothership four days a week? Winged monkeys exiting Gary Bettman's rectum comes to mind.
While some will argue in favor of ESPN's higher profile (roughly 26 million more viewers than VERSUS), I recall well their treatment of the NHL during the last few years of that TV contract. Remember the "less is more" fable, when ESPN cut the number of games broadcast, and shunted most of those off to ESPN2? Given the option of broadcasting NFL, NBA, MLB or NHL games, The Leader In Sports will always choose the NHL last. ALWAYS. Better the NHL should remain a big fish in a small pond, particularly since that pond is growing.
Take me back to On Goal Analysis.