Deadline coverage painful to watch

STEVE BUFFERY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:48 PM ET

TORONTO - I used to think that the most boring show on television was the Indian Head Test Pattern, which came on after the networks went off the air for the day.

It wasn’t really a show, I guess, but when we were in high school we’d spend hours staring at the thing, for whatever reason.

But now I’m convinced that the Indian Head Test Pattern isn’t the most boring spectacle ever to appear on TV. The live feed of the Maple Leafs “situation room” on Rogers Sportsnet takes the cake. At least the Indian Head Test Pattern had a humming noise that went with it. The live feed of the Leafs situation room had no sound at all — just five guys sitting around a table playing with their blackberrys.

But that’s what coverage of the NHL Trade Deadline Day has become — live feeds of guys doing nothing and networks claiming scoops for the most inconsequential of trades — like Rogers Sportsnet bragging all day that their man Nick Kypreos was the first to report that Columbus defenceman Rostislav Klesla had been traded to the Phoenix Coyotes for Scottie Upshall and Sami Lepisto.

I think it’s fair to say that anyone who watched the Rogers Sportsnet Trade Deadline show now knows more about Klesla than the defenceman’s own family. Did you know that Klesla’s nickname is Rusty?

They even reminded an underwhelmed Klesla of that fact when they got the defenceman on the horn. Thankfully, Klesla’s reaction was something like, ‘Yeah, thanks, but I knew something was up anyway because my coach called me in for a meeting.’

Every crappy deal on NHL Trade Deadline Day has become ‘Dewey Defeats Truman’ big.

For the Canadian sports networks, it’s like Christmas, except with Santa showing up with a bag of coal. There were precious few interesting trades this year, but the networks had hours of programming to fill and legions of bored hockey insiders waiting to say or do something.

The coverage wouldn’t be quite so ridiculous if both networks — Rogers Sportsnet and TSN — didn’t have so many of these guys. It was incredible. While Pierre McGuire and one panel of hockey insiders yammered on, you could actually see one or two groups of other hockey insiders in the background waiting to get on the air.

“Let me say this about Ottawa picking up Curtis McElhinney on waivers Darren.” Riveting stuff.

And it wasn’t just the big networks who got caught up in the craziness.

The Fan 590’s Lunch Time Good Time Hour, or whatever the show’s called, had Don Cherry as a guest, which was great. Cherry’s entertaining.

But it begs the question: When Don Cherry appears on the Fan 590, is the host contractually obligated to say how great Cherry’s Grapeline show is and how long it’s been on the air? If not, leave it alone. Cherry brags enough without radio hosts fawning over him all the time.

Morning skate

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the insight and the enthusiasm of the various Trade Deadline shows, but maybe they should tone it down just a little. Do we really need a 20 minute debate on Jimmy Howard signing a two-year extension with the Detroit Red Wings? Hell, at one point, Rogers Sportsnet cut to a live shot of Daymond Langkow gliding around the ice at the Calgary Flames morning skate.

When an interesting trade did finally materialized, all hell broke loose.

The TSN panel, for instance, cut to Gord Miller as the Dustin Penner swap went down. The problem was, they cut to Miller but it was obviously Miller’s sidekick Bob McKenzie who had the news, so the segment consisted of McKenzie telling Miller what was happening and then Miller repeating it to the viewers.

I was waiting for Buffalo Bob and Howdy Doody to show up.

Meanwhile, over at Rogers Sportsnet, they cut to R.J. Broadhead and Kypreos for the same news, except that Kypreos obviously wasn’t ready to go on the air, as he was scrambling to tuck in his shirt and put in his ear phone.

To be fair, the ridiculousness over “scoops” has died down somewhat from past years, probably because the networks realize that their various insiders get all their scoops pretty well at the same time, or within seconds of each other. In fact, I’m convinced that most hockey insiders get their info from pretty well the same sources.

As the 3 p.m. trade deadline approached on Monday, increasingly the story became how nothing was happening. All the hosts and insiders began to look a bit sheepish. Embarrassed even.

A couple of times, Sportsnet paraded out Bob McCown, who I didn’t realize was a hockey insider. As usual though, McCown had the line of the day.

“It’s been a thrill being here,” a sarcastic McCown said. “I’m going to take a nap now.”

Afterwards, on his radio show, The Bobcat explained how he had predicted that the NHL Trade Deadline Day show — hosted by “egomaniacs” and “boneheads” — would be a “train wreck”.

And he was right.


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