Has the NHL gotten worse on TV? According to John Buccigross in 2006:
It was actually better in the 1970s because the camera angles and lighting were better because the sets were smaller. Hockey is the only sport that has gotten worse on television in the last 25 years.
But wait, now we have HD widescreen TV sets and possibly 3D looming in the future to prove Buccigross wrong. With the game today on big screen TVs, I had to disagree with Bucci. Maybe he was just wrapped up in nostalgic youthful memories. Putting the TV comment aside, it's one of the best love letters to the sport that you'll ever read. He talks about his Uncle Kenny and trips to Boston as a kid.
But I digested his point about hockey on TV and today I feel he's dead on. It still resonates - even with advancing technologies.
Like Buccigross, my fondest memories of watching hockey on TV are from my middle school/ high school years. When I was young and car-less, the basement was my hockey sanctuary. I would flip between the Devils, Flyers and Rangers. There was an old net that I would shoot on during commercials (if I missed the net, I would hear it from dad - he would occasionally chase me out the door in a very Homer Simpsonesque manner).
Perhaps we're all bound to romanticize our early times with any new hobby that endures.
But as I thought about it, for me, hockey was its best on TV from 1988 - 1992. This was when I was watching the Devils on Sports Channel New York and other games on Sports Channel America. Also looking at other networks a the time, PRISM, MSG, etc. the thing that sold me on the games was the minute goal celebrations.
The announcers would shut up after a goal, let you hear the noises and feel the crowd.
This is truly lacking in the NHL today. Now on youtbe, I'm limited to big goals, but regular ones were similar too. But the big goals were AWESOME.
Even during fights, am I wrong or can you feel the sound better on a youtube condensed clip than you can on today's HD broadcast? At times, it was as if the TV audio would tap into the arena sound system and people at home would just hear Rock n' roll part II or another goal scoring song blasted into their living room. This is a great example, even when the youtube guy edits some out, you can still feel it.
And then there were the characters. I definitely remember the camera panning around the Bryne Arena crowd and seeing the same elderly couple during many of the Devils' goal celebrations. There were also the same Penguins grandparents at every home game during their two Cup runs. Man . . . I hope my wife and I are that old couple someday.
Filmmakers will say that the beginning credits of a movie, set to music, are to subtly hypnotize the audience. Without question, with hockey on TV at this time - I was hooked. When my dad took me to the actual live game - it was friggin catnip. I have 5 tapes of just hockey goals from 1988 - 1992 and I treasure them to this day.
But it wasn't just the games. One memory that I do have is Sports Channel America's coverage of the 1989 Finals. Notice how personal the interviews are? They coaches aren't behind some podium? And then they end with a montage to the Hooisers theme (ironically a basketball movie). Look for younger versions of Doc Emrick, Larry Robinson and Pat Burns.
I'm probably just an old guy lamenting about how things were better in the old days. But I truly feel like hockey on TV has degraded and we need to return to the roots.