My list of complaints about the Versus network is long and all-encompassing regarding their NHL coverage.
It's a real kick in the face to the NHL that the games are broadcast on Vs. Vs, the home of such other great sports as WEC - World Extreme Cagefighting, PBR (no, not the beer, the bull-riding), the NLL (indoor lacrosse), and Hunting and Fishing. If I have to see another WEC commercial during a hockey game, I may have to get a brick to throw at the TV. It's just absurd.
Meanwhile, ESPN, the former partner of the NHL, is promoting sports like Arena Football and MLL Lacrosse like they're real sports (and, to be fair, compared to the rest of the Vs lineup, they are). The NHL is a joke at the moment because it is on a network that, before the NHL came to it, no one had heard of. In fact, there are still plenty of people who haven't heard of it. It's disgraceful. They've allowed the NHL to become a weirdo sport that can be stuck on a channel with other crap.
I'd rather see the NHL make a deal with ESPN giving them the games FOR FREE than take another cent from Vs. Even Fox, with all of it's stupid gimmicks (glowing puck, anyone?), had much better coverage than Vs and people could see the games, because everyone has Fox. Bettman's trying to "grow" the league? Well, here's a thought, maybe you should start by putting it somewhere that people will see it.
And then, as if just the concept of being on Vs wasn't enough, the coverage is horrendous. The announcers are third- and fourth-rate, the camera work is appalling, and the producers obviously don't know how to broadcast a hockey game. To put anything over the ice while the puck is in play, a graphic, anything, is unacceptable. And this is the network that for the first 5-6 months that they had hockey put the SCORE on the bottom covering the ice.
But what really put it in perspective for me is when Vs was broadcasting the TSN or CBC feeds of the late-night games last round.
CBC and TSN have their cameras zoomed out a bit. You can see the whole offensive zone while the players are there. It was wonderful to watch. So there's a bit of extra crowd on the top and bottom of the screen. That just means that the score isn't covering anything important. Meanwhile, Vs has zoomed in so far that oftentimes the camera man loses track of the puck. Hockey's not an easy sport to watch on TV, but if the puck's not on the screen, it's impossible. You can't follow something that's not there.
The announcers sit there and promote Vs and their sponsors during the play-by-play. It's an art, play-by-play announcing, and it's an art that gets tainted when they're forced to pitch products and sponsors rather than tell you what's going on in the game. And, one last thing, ENOUGH WITH THE ADJECTIVES and SYNONYMS. I don't need you to find new words to describe things that are happening in the game. You can use the same words over and over again. It's not going to make me lose interest, I promise. I don't care if someone "feathered a pass towards the cage." You can say that he "threw it on net" instead and then tell me something else in the time it took you to think of a different way to say that.
And now, I'm forced to watch the Vs coverage for Games 1 and 4 of the Rangers-Sabres 2nd round playoff series? And some of you who aren't so lucky as to get MSG will have to watch it for all of the games besides 3 and 6? It's a slap in the face. Hockey fans deserve better than this shit, and Hockey deserves better too.