Were you one of the fortunate ones who caught any bit of the live feed from Saddledome on Thursday night? The feed of Hockey Canada's Red-White scrimmage? Did you get your hockey fix through it that you had been jonesing for since the Stanley Cup Final in June?
Of course, being an Internet stream, you very well may have lost it during the viewing (if you DID get to see it in the first place), but did you see it at all?
I hope you did, because this was an example of the perfect hockey telecast. Not just because of the caliber of the players on ice (like an All-Star Game, but players gave a damn) , but because of how the broadcast itself was done.
This was hockey perfection. No commentators jabbering in your ear for the sake off filling silence, no jump-cuts or closeups ruining the view of a play developing, there were no graphics and advertisements being jammed down your throat on screen while there was a temporary break in play.
It was hockey, as it should be, without commercial broadcasters screwing it up with bombast and trying to keep you entertained -- when the game itself is all the entertainment you need.
It seems like the powers-that-be in the broadcasting world keep trying to find new ways to broadcast a hockey game on TV -- more angles, different angles, more intimate camera work, more of smaller, more of less of what is going on during play.
And while producers and TV executives (and, no doubt, NHL officials) have gotten lost in the belief that hockey needs a new and fresh perspective on the television that lets the viewer take an even closer look at the players... They forget the fact there is a far broader event going on than individual events: the game.
Give me a good, traditional sideline view at the rink (in High Definition though, that is one technical perspective that I love -- 16:9 widescreen telecasts) and I'm happy. Save the intimate camera work for replays or stoppages in play... Not by squaring in on a puck carrier and forgetting the rest of the game, or focusing in on the name-player and hoping he does something noteworthy. Oh, and while we're at it, make sure cameramen never set foot on the ice surface. That's one aspect that ruins hockey on television -- trying to show anything from the on-ice perspective. I have sworn off Versus All-Star Game coverage because of their idiotic idea that fans want to see shoot-out competition stuff from behind the skater. Whose bright idea was that?
The Red-White game wasn't the ferocity of a rivalry matchup, it wasn't anything that counted (except for the guys who wanted to show their country why they deserved to be on Team Canada's Olympic roster in February 2010) but the feed that the fans saw online was better than the majority of cable telecasts from the past decade, if not longer. It was bare bones and let you take in everything on ice. It let you enjoy the game without trying to make the game more of something for the viewing audience. It let hockey be played as it should on TV: the game is all you need to satisfy viewers short attention spans. Hockey's addicting in itself, it doesn't need help from extra camera work to sell itself and draw in viewers.