Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Why Versus Isn't Good at Hockey

I like John Forslund. I think he does a pretty good job on Hurricanes games, and he's been with that franchise since it was in Hartford, so the fans are quite familiar with his voice and his style.

His work as a national play-by-play guy on Versus has been very similar to what fans of the Whalers/Hurricanes have been used to over the years. Similar enthusiasm, similar catchphrases ("That's hockey, baby!", "Hey, hey, whaddaya say?" et al). He doesn't change much, outside of any homerism going out the window. But even then, it's not like you're asking Mike Haynes to stop screaming when the Avalanche score a goal. Forslund is a homer, but not a big-time one.

Forslund was at the mic Monday night in Chicago, as the Calgary Flames visited the Blackhawks. When Calgary jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first period, it seemed safe to put things in cruise-control mode. We've all been there as broadcasters, though. Sometimes, you have to take the game out of cruise when the comeback begins.

Working with Ed Olczyk, Forslund pulled off an epic fail in the Versus broadcast. The Blackhawks cut into the lead again and again, eventually getting within 5-4. After a couple near-goals, the Blackhawks had an offensive zone faceoff. Forslund and Olczyk were talking about rabbit ears, however, and weren't to be bothered.

Seems the pair never truly left 5-1 mode. You know, the part of the game where you assume it's over and done with on the ice and start telling dumb stories and filling time with bad jokes? That's 5-1 mode, and it's probably not a good idea to stay in that mentality when it's 5-4 and the home team is threatening to tie the game.

In Forslund's defense, he wasn't caught with his pants down on Brent Seabrook's overtime game-winner, so there's that.

It also doesn't hurt that Versus has a long history during their time with the NHL of having broadcasters talk about things that aren't the game being played in front of them. Yes, this happens in other places, but it's prevalent during Versus games.

It's probably the first time that I've ever wished to have NESN Bruins irritant Jack Edwards doing a game, because he would have come out of his shoes on the 5-3, 5-4, and 5-5 goals. It would have been YouTube legend.

Instead, Forslund -- a truly good veteran NHL voice -- gets his name brought up for all the wrong reasons.

No comments: