Quick show of hands: How do you feel about the obsessive coverage we have come to associate with the NHL trade deadline -- thumbs up or fingers down the throat?
I know that was a bad visual, but come on -- it's time to admit deadline day has become a lot more about hype than substance.
Honestly, it's difficult for me to come down on the trade deadline, because it's long been my favourite day of the season. Distractions from other sports are minimal (baseball hasn't begun yet, the NFL has wrapped up and it's not quite time for March Madness). You need something to fill the time prior to the NHL post-season.
Yet over the past few years, the media have approached coverage of deadline day with fervour you rarely see anywhere else -- including the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Both Rogers Sportsnet and TSN are beginning Tuesday's coverage at 8 a.m. and continuing straight through until 6 p.m.
Meanwhile, the Score is making its bigger broadcast brothers look like layabouts -- it's starting its coverage at 7:30 a.m.
We already know a party-based atmosphere complete with a pizza bash resembling a high school fundraiser doesn't work during the deadline. Sportsnet's fun-first experiment from last season backfired something fierce, and it helped ensure TSN's position as the premiere destination for trade info.
Despite TSN's popularity, it doesn't guarantee that Tuesday's broadcast will leave all the network's viewers sated. Bloated and heavy with filler, most of the broadcast quickly becomes redundant. Then there are several personalities who are prone to smarminess and laughing at their own jokes, adding to viewers' irritation.
Of course, there's also the post-trade analysis provided by the various networks to consider.
You'd think that might justify the lengthy amount of time required for such an event. Correct me if I'm wrong, but most fans seem capable of making a snap judgment after a swap is made. Any additional commentary is pure speculation until we see the players perform in their new uniforms.
As for those riveting post-trade interviews that provide the day's additional "insight," here's what to expect from the players: "Well, you know, it's a bit of a surprise, but what can you do? (Insert appropriate team name here) has got a great club, and I'm just going to do whatever I can to help them and bring a Stanley Cup to (fill in the blank). It's hard to leave -- I've had a great time with (insert former team name here). They're a good bunch of guys in that dressing room, but hey, this is the NHL. Not much you can do."
Surely I must have saved you a few hours of pointless couch-surfing right there.
Has anyone stopped to consider that all of this bombastic coverage might be an attempt to mask the fact deadline day has become dreadfully dull?
Deadline day has changed dramatically in the post-lockout era. The salary cap is the obvious reason, but how much longer can we anticipate monumental deals every year?
Trends suggest teams are going the distance to ensure their franchise players are locked up for lengthy periods, which will eventually make it far more difficult to land someone who's about to hit unrestricted free agency in the summer.
Throw the growing number of players with no-trade clauses into the mix, and suddenly all the deadine-day drama goes out the window, and we're all wasting a day watching teams swap third-line wingers for mid-round draft picks.
FEW BIG FISH
Some NHL team may land a big fish Tuesday, but most of the action will likely focus on the minnows of the league. Regardless, you'll have three networks ready and willing to be fascinated by every single move.
Remind me again why we need 10 hours for this?