“While the Men Watch” was disastrous on all levels, but there was one positive idea at its core, beyond the admirable intention of getting non-hockey fans interest in hockey. The idea of providing an alternate commentary track for hockey games is a good one. There are plenty of hockey fans who are dissatisfied with the play-by-play and colour commentary that is available on our current hockey broadcasts.
I know there are people out there who so prefer their local radio play-by-play to that of the TV broadcasts that they simply turn off the sound on their TV and sync up their radio with the broadcast. Unfortunately, this can get a bit complicated and some fans don’t like their radio commentary any better. Instead, I’d like to see broadcasters provide alternate commentary tracks online, synced up with the television broadcast, to serve fans’ varied interests.
To a certain extent, CBC has already done this with their online streaming of games in Punjabi, but I’m not talking about just providing commentary in different languages. I’m talking about commentary tailored to different fans’ interests. While it’s extremely unlikely that broadcasters would actually do this (there’s likely no money in it), but I could see an enterprising blogger or fan giving it a shot.
Here are some alternate commentary tracks I’d like to see:
This one’s for all the fans of advanced statistics who get enraged when the colour commentator raves about a player leading his team in shot blocks who is last on his team in Corsi. Or when anyone brings up a player’s plus-minus to make a point. Or when a player who spends 95% of his shifts keeping the puck in the offensive zone is derided for his poor defensive skills.
Sample commentary: “While Minnesota is leading this game 3-0 late in the third period, it’s important to note that their Fenwick rating with the score tied at this point in the season suggests that this result is partially due to statistical variance and random chance. And Koivu scores! That brings his shooting percentage to an unsustainably high 16.8% on the season.”
Completely Biased Homers
Are you tired of commentators that keep acting like players on opposing teams are human beings worthy of dignity and respect? Do you want commentators to constantly focus on why your team is the best team? Is every win a tribute to the guts and skill of your team and every loss a result of blatant cheating and dirty officiating? Then this is the play-by-play for you.
Sample commentary: “And that right there is why Sidney Crosby is the dirtiest player in the league! Claude Giroux, who is severely underrated around the league, is on the receiving end of a vicious, premeditated slash that was clearly an intent to injure! No surprise it wasn’t called, of course; the refs have had it in for the Flyers all game.”
The Female Gaze
This one is directly inspired by “While the Men Watch” and it might be considered WTMW done right. This commentary track would be for the women (and men) who want insightful, intelligent hockey commentary, but also want to discuss how good Henrik Lundqvist’s butt looks from the in-net camera (so good), just how dreamy Taylor Pyatt’s eyes are (so dreamy), and in-depth discussion of which defenceman has the sexiest hip-swivels on his backwards crossover (Hi there, Kris Letang).
This commentary track would recognize that just because someone finds hockey players attractive doesn’t mean that they don’t know hockey. In fact, a greater understanding of hockey tends to make the players (or, at least, certain players) more attractive. The ideal commentator would be someone with in-depth insight into the game of hockey as well as a complete understanding of Ms. Conduct’s Relative Foxiness statistic.
Sample commentary: “Brad Richards made an impressive play along the boards to free up the puck then fed it in front to Gaborik with a sexy pass through traffic. Speaking of sexy, I feel it needs to be mentioned that his nude photo for ESPN did nothing for me. It all starts with the face and when it comes to having a good looking face, Richards is good at hockey.”
British Soccer Comentators
This one shouldn’t take much explanation. Even if you’re not a fan of soccer, you have to admit that soccer commentators are extremely entertaining and a lot of fun to listen to. At the very least, it would be nice to switch up the vocabulary from the hockey clichés that pervade a lot of hockey play-by-play. Instead of “Great save!” we could hear “Now that was true quality from the goalkeeper.” A bad play would be described as “truly dreadful,” while a great play would be “pure class.”
Dark Side of the Moon
This would be Pink Floyd’s classic 1973 album on a loop, synced to start playing at the opening puck drop. Feel free to freak out when the plane crash in “On The Run” syncs perfectly with a crushing hit by a defenceman and the opening Ka-ching of “Money” plays right when the most overpaid player on your team scores a goal.
I have a feeling that this might be the most popular alternate track of all. No play-by-play or colour commentary at all. Just the sounds of the rink and the arena.