TORONTO - Nine hours, five cups of coffee, two TVs.
With the long awaited, highly anticipated 2011 NHL trade deadline on Monday fans had a lot of programming to digest.
The 2010 deadline set an NHL record with 55 players moving in 31 trades so hopes were high this year.
Unfortunately the 2011 deadline fell on its face like Ilya Kovalchuk’s post-contract production. But the show must go on, as they say in the biz, and the networks had no choice but to play it out as best they could.
Instead of an influx of trades viewers were treated to an influx of chatter, with much of the coverage looking more like Thanksgiving dinner with your sports-crazed uncles — an overwhelming amount of hockey talk highlighted by a sprinkling of desserts.
The day started off slow, and TSN and Sportsnet were forced to improvise.
TSN rolled out its Players in Play graphic, which helped generate the hype surrounding the most moveable assets in the league.
The panel chose 23 players from across the league and broke down why they were expendable to their teams, and why they were valuable to potential suitors.
In typical TSN fashion the team brought humour to the broadcast, highlighted by Jay Onrait’s bathrobe appearance via Skype.
Sportsnet brought colour to their broadcast early with its players’ perspectives segment, where players from across the NHL were asked trade-related questions.
Sportsnet also earns a nod for bringing former NHL general managers Brian Lawton and Doug MacLean to shed some light on what the deadline is like from a management perspective.
TSN countered with their GM report cards, where they graded general managers from across the league on their trade histories and what they have done for their respective teams.
It was a slow morning for the TV guys, with only two trades happening before noon.
Kudos to Sportsnet for getting Radek Dvorak on the phone within half an hour of his deal being announced.
TSN gets a thumbs up for breaking the Dennis Wideman deal.
The action picked up a little around lunchtime, and so too did the coverage.
The Score and Leafs TV showed up late to the party, with coverage beginning at 12 p.m., but that probably wasn’t a bad move.
TSN broke up the boredom of the day to commemorate Sidney Crosby’s Olympic gold-medal winning goal, which took place a year ago Monday.
Sportsnet’s cheat sheet, which was a lot like TSN’s Player’s in Play segment, was a good way to get in the loop with players on the move.
Sportsnet analyst Nick Kypreos broke the Rostislav Klesla deal just before 1 p.m., and the floodgates opened as the networks finally had something to talk about — which lasted far too long, because the next trade didn’t come until after 1 p.m. Overkill.
Things picked up moderately in the last two hours before the deadline, with five trades going down before 3 p.m.
Sportsnet broke three afternoon deal keeping its coverage fresh.
The Sun’s Steve Simmons appeared as an analyst on TSN and didn’t disappoint, nailing the fact that the snail’s pace of the day was the biggest story.
With 24 teams believing they are in the playoff hunt it’s tough to justify heavy movement. Combine that with the new salary cap rules and new structure surrounding restricted and unrestricted free agents and you get limited movement.
At the end of the day our winner is Sportsnet, with TSN a close second and the Score and Leafs TV a distant third and fourth, respectively.
Sportsnet was on point throughout the day, breaking trades and getting players on the phone within an hour of their deals coming down.
The Score and Leafs TV had cheesy graphics and no excitement.
It was a tight race for the top two, but at the end of the day TSN just couldn’t catch up with Sportsnet.
Chris Campoli had no idea he was being dealt until he got a phone call from TSN’s Gino Reda ... TSN had 20 commentators in the studio Monday. That’s more than one guy for each trade that was made ... James Duthie from TSN said he felt like James Franco’s character from 127 Hours when he got his arm stuck between rocks. Funny, I felt like Malcolm McDowell’s character from A Clockwork Orange when he was strapped in a chair with his eyes peeled open watching a screen ... TSN showed a flashback to last year’s deadline day when now TSN analyst Aaron Ward was dealt. Some outlets were so desperate for moves they reported the deal on their coverage. It was quickly taken down...Legend has it that Sylvester Stallone stood on milk crates in Rocky IV for his scenes with Dolph Lundgren. How many milk crates was TSN’s Steve Kouleas on during Monday’s show?... Bob McCown was on Sportsnet’s coverage dressed like an Anglo-Saxon Tony Soprano... During the Sportsnet broadcast Kypreos walked off set in front of the camera to answer a phone call. That move doesn’t work any other day... TSN was the first to mention Monday’s noon waiver deadline. It was mentioned at 11:15 ... This year’s deadline marks the lowest number of trades since ’99-’00.