NHL broadcasters just want to have fun

Every now and then a play-by-play guy makes a groaner that makes your jaw drop, writes Rob McKenzie.

They cannot all be Doc Emrick. Working as a play-by-play announcer on ice hockey games is no easy job. The action is fast, the puck is small, people are always crashing into one another, and everyone’s face is hidden under a helmet.

Emrick, a three-time Emmy winner, makes it look easy. Covering games for NBC, he almost never flubs a call, and he clearly does his research. The pre-game playing of the national anthem is apt to lead to an Emrick mini-essay on how this ritual dates to a decree at the end of the Second World War that a patriotic song be played before games.

He sets the bar high, and others cannot be blamed if they do their best yet cannot quite reach it.

And yet all that being said, every now and then a play-by-play guy makes a groaner that makes your jaw drop. Such was the case on the Root Sports broadcast of Pittsburgh’s season opener in Dallas.

During a break in the action, the broadcast ran an item showing how the Penguins players had been spending their time in Dallas. A handful, including the American-history major, Ben Lovejoy, had taken an educational trolley tour that follows the path of the motorcade in which former president John F Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963 – “that dark day in American history” – as the segment’s narrator said.

Cut back to the broadcast booth and play-by-play man Paul Steigerwald gushes: “I wish I would have been there! That looks like fun.”

As the American satirist Fran Lebowitz once wrote: “The opposite of talking isn’t listening. The opposite of talking is waiting.”

rmckenzie@thenational.ae

Follow us on Twitter @NatSportUAE

Published: October 20, 2015 04:00 AM

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