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Lightning lose to Penguins 4-2 in game overshadowed by patronizing display on NBCSN

Hockey Men don’t know how to talk to women

NHL: All Star Game-Skills Competition
Jan 25, 2019; San Jose, CA, USA; (l to r) Brianna Decker , Rebecca Johnston , Kendall Coyne , and Renata Fast watches the players compete in the 2019 NHL All Star Game premiere passer skills competition at SAP Center.
Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

The one ray of light on this Wednesday Night of Torture where the Tampa Bay Lightning lost 4-2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins in their first game back from the Bye Week was Kendall Coyne Schofield, who made her NHL broadcasting debut on the NBCSN national broadcast. Don’t get me wrong, everything around her, including here coworkers, were especially cringe-worthy, but her smile and her absolute professionalism was a beacon of hope on an otherwise whitewashed night.

Okay, that’s all I can do. Those are the happy and constructive words you’re going to get from me in this recap.

Time to take this recap off the rails.

It all started with the first period...

First Period

0-1

It was a breakneck pace to start the game, and it was the lethargic Lightning that paid the price first. Garrett Wilson got the play started when he picked up a dump-in by Kris Letang and drove in on Andrei Vasilevskiy. He got two chances at both sides of the net with the use of a wrap-around, creating a rebound for Riely Sheahan, who basically scored a tap in. As Kendall Coyne Schofield said on the broadcast, all four Lightning players in the zone got caught puck-watching and were facing the wrong direction. Can we just brush that off as four rusty Bolts?

0-2

The rust really got to the Bolts on the second goal when Bryan Rust picked up a turnover at the Lightning blueline and beat Victor Hedman to the front of the net, creating a rebound for Stanley Cup Champion Phil Kessel at the side of the net. Poor Vasy, he had already been hung out to dry after just two goals.

0-3

The next goal was a complete disintegration by the skaters in the defensive zone. First, Brayden Point gave the puck away behind the net after getting double-teamed by the Penguins. Where his support (who was probably supposed to be Ryan McDonagh) was nowhere to be found. Then, Erik Cernak got caught skating away from his man, thinking Point had won the puck battle, but instead Evgeni Malkin found Rust for a centering pass. Finally, to top off this barf-cake, McDonagh put himself on the wrong side of Sidney Crosby (who I hear is a good player), allowing him to put home another tap in for the Penguins.

After One

Well that period was crap. Not in the shot clock or when it came to actual hockey. No, the Lightning out-shot the Penguins 16-5 (including the Penguins full two-minute 5-on-3 power play). Despite that indication of the massive disparity in play, the Lightning left the first period down three goals. The offense wasn’t the problem in this period, it was the defense. Of Pittsburgh’s six total shot attempts, three of them were from in front of the net, or in the “high danger” area of the ice. The Lightning had zero themselves.

Simply put, the Lightning needed to be much better in front of their own net and protect Vasilevskiy much more diligently than they had up to that point.

Second Period

0-4

Letang did a thing, so I decided to send a tweet.

Y’all want sad animal GIFs? Y’all gonna get sad animal GIFs.

Vasy @ the team.

Vasy looking for support in the defensive zone.

Bolts Twitter watching the game.

After Two

The shot attempts were even in the second period. There was no bite, no fight, no passion. This game was on national television in the United States and Canada and the Lightning sh*t the bed. Sure, the Lightning don’t need the points and this game won’t matter if we win the Cup, but in terms of putting your best foot forward in front of the hockey world, this roster got thrown off the cliff by Thanos.

Sorry, spoiler alert.

Third Period

Sad animal GIF thread over. Back to hockey for a second.

4-2

The Lightning scored two goals right at the end of the game, ending Matthew Murray’s shutout. Woo? I guess?

Kendall Coyne Schofield and Pierre McGuire

And finally, time to acknowledge the elephant-sized tire fire in the room.

This game was the first time NWHL star and USA Olympian Kendall Coyne Schofield would appear on an NBCSN NHL broadcast. She worked the first period with Pierre McGuire between the benches, then the latter two in the studio with “the boys.” All throughout this broadcast, I (and the entirety of Hockey Twitter) lost their minds as to the trainwreck that was unfolding. The men on that broadcast, especially McGuire, had no business speaking the way they did and acting the way they did to Coyne Schofield on that broadcast. And here’s the proof.

First off, some of Pierre’s highlights from his first night with a woman next to him:

This interaction was absolutely cringeworthy. The body language, the tone of voice, the emphasis on stereotypes. Women in sports have been dealing with this crap for years and decades, and one weekend hasn’t changed anything. It was a start, but as long as people like McGuire exist in positions of social power, the fight will always be uphill.

Every woman knows what this was. They’ve dealt with it and smiled through it. It’s just so so sooooo creepy and inappropriate.

And then they started to talk about hockey, and oh boy was it bad. Like, really bad.

Then the opinions started rolling in and I gotta say, they were all dingers.

The most juxtaposing part of the night was that Coyne Schofield had some amazing viewpoints and analysis of the game. It was eye-opening and refreshing. Her take on the numerous fights that happened in the game and what Matt Murray was actually feeling when he lost his shut out to the Lightning felt real and honest and not something we’ve ever heard from the plethora of Hockey Men.

I sent a tweet at a point during the broadcast stating how Coyne Schofield was not a broadcaster, but just a hockey player and was still out-performing a “tenured hockey journalist” like McGuire. I was wrong and I was gladly corrected. While at Northeastern University, Coyne Schofield got a degree in communications and sideline reporting. This even furthers the point that she is more qualified and capable than him. She has the knowledge, the experience, the education, the personality. McGuire only has imitations of those.

What do I mean by McGuire is only an imitation? I say that because he genuinely has no credibility, no professionalism, and nothing to provide to help grow the game.

Why is McGuire on the national broadcasts? Why does he have a platform? These questions have gone unchecked for far too long, brushed aside as playful, upbeat, and fun. It was hard to watch when he does it on his own, and it was patronizing and insulting when he did it to Coyne Schofield.

Call this hyperbole, but I think Daniel Carcillo nails it with this take. Parading the dinosaurs out in front of the country as a sport’s best foot forward turns off so many Americans, Canadians, and viewers around the world who just want to watch an exciting sport like hockey.

I don’t really have much more for this rant. The minorities in this sport deserve much better treatment than what they get on a daily basis. Things are getting better within the social media community — 2018 was a big year for that, especially with the women’s march — but the pillars of the hockey business remain unchanged. Hopefully this is the beginning of that turnaround.


Takeaways

  • Like I said above, I hope Coyne Schofield, and Brianna Decker, and Hilary Knight, and Natalie Spooner carry forward what the old guard (the trailblazers) of Cassie Campbell-Pascall, and Haley Wickenheiser, and Tessa Bonhomme have done in Canada to the USA and really make all of it the new mainstream norm. These hockey players have worked so hard to grow the game — not their game, THE game — and they deserve to be representing our sport.
  • I genuinely hope this ends up being a learning experience for Pierre McGuire and the rest of the men like him, I’m always willing to let an old dog try new tricks, but if change doesn’t happen, changes should be made. For the good of the sport, for the good of the product, don’t let something like this become the norm, NBCSN. It’s not good business.
  • Lastly on the Bolts because there was an alleged hockey game on the ice. The team was sloppy on the first night back from a 10-day break. Realistically, this was the most likely outcome. I liked that the Lightning out-shot the Penguins so badly in the first. They genuinely owned the period. The defense was sloppy and unorganized, but I won’t worry about that because of the long break between games. After the first period (or more accurately after the 4-0 goal), the game was basically over and the Lightning stopped trying. Can we call this a solid final preseason game and call it a night?
  • The first-place New York Islanders are next on the list. I expect the Lightning to be much better in that contest. Fingers crossed. See you again on Friday at 7pm EST. Hopefully this time with a lot less Pierre.