Since most folks are going to be talking about what they think the Wheel of Justice is going to bring forth for Colorado Avalanche forward David Koci after brutally charging and boarding Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green as the Avs were down 5-0 late in the second period, I’m going to take a look at something not having to do with what happened on the ice, but rather the broadcast booth for both CSN-Washington and Denver’s Altitude Network. I’m just hoping I don’t step on the shoes of Puck The Media’s Steve Lepore too much by doing this.
Checking out the You Tube videos of the hit, the first one I checked out was from Altitude featuring play-by-play man Mike Haynes and color analyst Peter McNab. Haynes, I admit, is a guy I’m not the biggest fan of. He’s got a bit of a nasally voice which also bears a startling resemblance to radio talk show host Sean Hannity. McNab has been the color voice for Avalanche games since the franchise moved to Denver and he’s gotten some big time work doing games on NBC and work for TSN in Canada as well. Haynes, like anyone doing the hometown broadcast, is most certainly a homer and, in this case, he’s wearing the burgundy quite well.
OK so he’s a bit into the fight and why not, his team is getting trounced and Koci beating in John Erskine’s head might be the one bit of success the Avs might have on the night. That said, Mike Haynes… Act like you’ve been there before and maybe reigning it in a bit after Koci had just delivered a brutally dirty hit might be the right thing to do.
Don’t get me wrong here, I’m certainly not advocating homer broadcasters play it completely down the middle. I’ve only ever worked games as a homer broadcaster and in all of zero of the games I’ve ever called have I ever really played it down the middle. Don’t believe me? Well here, give this a listen from the game I did last week between Boston University and RPI. I’m the color commentator and second voice you’ll hear on there, the play-by-play man is the illustrious Perry Laskaris.
Now while Haynes got caught up in the heat of the moment and went a little monster truck rally with the fight, he certainly kept it professional after the commercial break and gets kudos for that but given the situation with a player down on the ice and the assailant then duking it out for his transgressions… Perhaps the better part of valor would’ve been to say, “Koci had to know this was going to happen and if this is his way of firing up his team…” and then drive it into lecture mode.
I’ll call that my foreshadowing moment because as we check out CSN-Washington’s broadcast featuring Joe Beninati on play-by-play (who I’ve ripped on plenty both here and on Twitter) and Craig Loughlin on color, you’ll see exactly how to handle this situation on the air.
Amazingly, Beninati (who I chide constantly for hamming up his broadcast delivery) hits this right on the nose the whole way through and Loughlin who is about as big of a homer color man as there is in the business, provides some spot-on perfect analysis of everything the whole way through. Loughlin is informative and analytical while Beninati delivers the correct kind of delivery for the situation with equal parts disgust, somberness and “Oh shit, this is going to be a brouhaha. ”
To get this kind of tempered production out of Beninati helps make me look like a jerk whenever I pick on him about his work on Versus. That said, his work on Comcast Sports Net-Washington is generally pretty good and I find that I don’t mind listening to him call Caps games on there. This also helps show me why folks from D.C./Virginia/Maryland that hear him for the entirety of a season would think I was being an unruly mob of one when trashing the guy.
My bad folks.
I’d have to assume this is just what the difference is between a guy who has done national broadcasts versus a guy who is strictly a hometown guy and for that I should go a little easier on them, but what’s the fun in that? The fun in this, this time around, is that I’m now sticking up and lauding Joe Beninati. I’m clearly losing my edge here.