directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: Sounding off!

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Sounding off!

As we've been made aware by the boys at the Dispatch both the TV and Radio broadcast pairs contracts expire July 1st.

There is lots of speculation on who will and will not be back with Aaron Portzline of the Dispatch suggesting from his sources that if one guy is favored it would be Rimer b/c of his relationship with president of business operations Larry Hoepfner.

I know many Jacket fans, including myself, have gotten to meet at least one if not all four of these gentlemen. I can say from my own personal experience that in my time talking with Rimer and Gare they are stand up people who are very generous with their time and with the fans.

...and these are real men, with real families, with real jobs who have mouths to feed just like the rest of us. So it certainly gives me no pleasure to criticize anyone.

Here's the thing though -- they are in the spotlight and get paid to broadcast games and that is what I'm going to base my opinion on. Not on personalities, not on appearance.. just strictly on the job they do calling the game on the ice.

First I'll say these jobs are not easy. Hockey is a fast paced sport with a whole lot going on. It's damn near impossible to catch it all let alone speak to every detail. I sure as hell couldn't do it...heck I can barely type on a free blog.

With that in mind... they could all go and I wouldn't be upset and here's why:

Let's start with the TV crew.

I watch a lot of hockey..... and I mean a lot of hockey... so I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to a broadcast team. Rimer and Gare are right there between bad and ugly.

For the hardcore fan there are just too many mistakes and overlooked plays. It's inexcusable to get names of players wrong or not notice players getting injured until a full period later. I mean that's all these guys do is watch games, go to practices and hob nob with the brass right...? Heck you could take the jersey's off these guys backs and plant my butt in the rafters and I could name ever player based on body type and skating alone. That is the kind of attention to detail I want and expect my broadcast crew to pass along to their viewers.

For the casual fan both Rimer and Gare just aren't engaging enough. When a casual sports fan flips the channel because the TV guys are annoying them that is a problem. If anything the TV guys need to be able to pull the viewer in. This particular duo just isn't capable of that and when you're a market that needs to attract new viewers and fans having a broadcast team capable of capturing the attention of a viewer is a must.

Bottom line there just isn't a good chemistry.

The worst thing that happened to Gare was the hiring of Engbloom who was just fantastic. Also not that I want these guys rooting for another team but the homerism borders on absurd at times.

Remember too that both Rimer and Gare were MacLean hires. I don't think there was a whole lot of interviewing or scrutinizing of skills that went into these decisions.... similar to MacLean's player personnel acquisitions and we know how most of those turned out.

The radio guys are a bit trickier.

Lot's of folks love George Mathews... they get into his enthusiasm and his energy. Personally when I listen to him I want to bang my head on the steering wheel... Why? Because I don't know a damn thing that is going on... Which line is out there? Which zone is the puck in? How was the goal scored? Who is in the scrums? All I hear are a bunch of screams and "holy molly what a goalie" crafty one liners. It's style over substance and I'm more of a substance type of guy.

Bill Davidge is a guy I don't have a strong opinion on one way or another. The one thing that really bothers me about him though is the relentless cheerleading. Again I know they aren't going to spit on the spoon that feeds them but it gets excessive.

Look the die hards.. they will always be there.. you could put Kermit the frog in the booth and we'd still tune in. That said if there is room for improvement then by all means improve! The Jackets need to strive for excellence from top to bottom and that includes their broadcast teams.
If I were to guess the radio guys stay and the TV guys go.

All that said the Blue Jackets organization does not get out of this post unscathed.

First off it doesn't matter who is in the booth if you can't find the Jackets on the tube. The playoff programming was an absolute train wreck -- and those are the games you want the most people possible to be watching because that is hockey at its purest and highest level.

To top it off there was a very limited number of high definition broadcasts which was completely unacceptable.

Secondly these decisions should have already been made.

It's also obvious they have a tight leash around these broadcast teams. There is no objectivity... there is no negative analysis. It's one big cheerleading feast before, during and after the games.

Fans want the good... but they aren't fools.... they sure know when this team isn't playing well and it's in times like those that the broadcasters need to the room to give an honest evaluation of the events on the ice. They are professionals and they know where the line is and not to cross it.

...and what's with the crap about not being able to talk about Adam Foote, John H. McConnell or missing the playoff for 8 straight years? Hmm.. maybe if they won't talk about it folks will think it didn't happen. Note to powers to be -- fans are not idiots.

We criticize them but yet in their defense it obvious they have not been given the freedom to do their jobs and to be at their best. How can one celebrate the Jackets first post season clinch without being able to acknowledge the 8 year struggle to get there or tip their hat to the man that made it all possible? It's ridiculous. I mean seriously, is Doug MacLean still pulling some strings behind the scenes here?

Perhaps the people that really need their jobs evaluated are president of business operations Larry Hoepfner (who on top of this apparently doesn't think there is anything wrong with the in-game entertainment) and director of broadcasting Russ Mollohan (who can't get a Jackets playoff game televised in HD).

Fire away - your thoughts on the broadcast crews?



scioto slim said...

I agree with you on the radio team, I usually catch the beginning of games on my 20 min ride about at least telling me the score more often than right after a goal. As far as the tv guys i am a huge fan of Danny Gare. I am always entertained by him, Rimmer not so much. I hated Rims that first season and although my hatred lessens each season i want him gone.

Wally said...

I love George Mathews & Danny Gare.

George has a knack for creating so much excitement around the game, it's like a whole other level of entertainment that you just can't force... you either have it or you don't.

Gare has a grandfatherly quality that you just put up with his mistakes or telestrator faux pas because you can. He seems really qualified, but isn't given many opportunities to shine.

Rimer is passable, but forgetable. I think Arace was on the mark when he said he makes himself a focal point rather than the game, the interviewee, etc. He has a decent voice, so I can just tune it out.

Davidge seems nice enough, but you can only hear his kind of gooey-sweet cheerleading for so long. There was one game near the end of the season where he actually spoke his mind and gave a semi-scathing take on a bad game. I was relly impressed because I'm sure he was finally saying what people were thinking all along.

JuneyMoon said...

I watch your team's games on Center Ice, and if given a choice, I always watch the other teams broadcast.

They joke on HF Boards about Danny Gare doing the games drunk and sometimes I think he actually is. From someone who has no emotional attachment to him, he comes across like someone who's been hit in the head too many times.

JAL said...

Nice post, LTL. Agree wholeheartedly for the most part.

To me, George is endearingly frustrating, and it is only because he has somebody really knowledgeable and grounded like Davidge that he can get away with it. I listen to a lot of hockey on XM and there are plenty out there far worse than George.

I really agree about the organization. What arrogance! Picture ABC having gone up to Al Michaels in 1980 -- "Listen, Al -- if these kids should beat the Russians, don't go crazy or anthing, huh? No mention of "Miracles", got it?"

The team and the fans moved into a new level in the NHL this season. Time for the bureaucrats in the organization to do the same.

A Shot From The Point

Paul said...

Just my opinion, but......
I could really care less who the tv guys are. I'm seeing the game, I'm not an idiot, I can tell what's happening. Put two guys in there who can talk without sounding like hey just migrated from some place south of the equator and I'm fine with that.
Radio is a little different. My woman lives in Australia and, because of that, our only chance to have conversations is on Saturday night. So, I spend every Saturday night iming with her. When the Jackets play on Saturday night, I listen online. The current pair drive me nuts. What's the score? Why is the crowd going crazy? (Especially on road games.) Etc., etc. etc. Give us some announcers who call the bloody game!

Anonymous said...


Great Post. I lived out in St. Louis for 3 years and let me say that when I tried to listen to Blues on the radio it sucked! The two guys they had calling the game could give you every detail but it was so dry and monitone that I could not listen to it.

Conversely I would work late at night so I could catch George and Bill on the internet. I know that there are times that you have no idea what is going on but because george is excited you get excited.

How many times are you sitting in the arena at the opposite end of the ice in the uppers and the jackets are in a scrum in front of the net. You cann't see what is going on but the crowd gets going on that end of the ice and it works its way back to your own end.

I guess what I am saying is I will take George's excitement over having a dull description of what is going on down to the nat's *ss.

With that said, do you have contact information for both of the CBH higher ups that we can voice our opinions to?

LTL said...

Hey Jeremy.

Good post.

Here is the link to the front office off the Jackets page:


Anonymous said...

I had to listen to Jeff Rimer for 5 years when I lived in DC. It was miserable. After he went to the Panthers I would from time to time watch him when I was on vacation. It was miserable. He comes to Columbus and again it is miserable. I have learned to live with the delay between the radio and the TV. It actually has its benefits when you aren't able to just watch the game. Rimer is an aloof, egotisticle, spoiled child. His sense of entitlement totally goes against what most hockey players and other broadcasters are like...humble. Jeremy Roenick is an exception but then again Jeremy is good for hockey. Rimer is not. He never was and never will be. No wonder Engblom ran out of Columbus like his pants were on fire.

Sure George, Danny and Bill all have their short comings, but combined those short comings are a drop in the ocean compared to Rimer. Keep George, just tell him to slow down a little. Keep Billy, but tell him to lose the 'Howitzer' and 'Jacket Killer' comments and take the telestrator away from Danny or teach him how to use it.