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Steve Fall said on July 6th, 2011 at 9:04 am

I think it’s a great idea! Maybe at first, they could just leave the names up for the first five seconds after each line change. Either way, it’s a positive innovation. It’s hard to imagine turning on a baseball game and not knowing the score & game situation immediately. But this was always the case until somebody had the idea to put it on the screen.

Brian Clapp said on July 6th, 2011 at 3:47 pm

Interesting idea but I’d hate to be the graphics operator with that job! Not only do line changes happen quickly (approx every :30) but there are often changes made to lines on the fly so it would be hard to get into a flow and be accurate.

I think the NHL has to focus more grass roots, they have long been labeled as a bunch of European (or Canadians) who we, the US fan base, will never feel attached to. In truth, Hockey players are the most accommodating of all the professional athletes. If the NHL got their players out amongst the fans as often as possible fan bases would start to feel attached to these guys and be more apt to watch/participate.

Oh and try not to have Sidney Crosby go out for the year again…

Russell Scibetti said on July 7th, 2011 at 8:25 am

Steve – thanks for the kind words!

Brian – I agree the grassroots is very important, and this idea is by no means a substitute for long-term, local, youth-focused programs. However, I think one way to overcome the disconnect with European players, especially those with “unfamiliar” names is to see those names more often and connect with what they do on the ice outside of when a goal is scored. Then when those players do reach out to communities, there is a stronger base to work from.

And while there is some technical challenge, if all the names are preloaded into a computer system, you only need one person to monitor player changes, click the name of the person coming off and click the name of the person coming on. I think this type of system could be designed fairly quickly and with ease of use in mind.

Brian Clapp said on July 7th, 2011 at 11:10 am

In the off-season of every sport we would have production seminars where we would try out new technologies and set-up practices using “clean” game tapes. We’d try out new analysts, play by play guys, new graphic elements etc.

Your idea would be great for this format – it could be tested over and over again to see if it is possible to make “game ready”. More often than not new technologies would sound great and we’d love the concept, but if they couldn’t be implemented with accuracy they’d would never make it on the broadcast.

Also if it took too many bodies to implement you’d have to do further budget analysis. For example if you found out the only way to do it accurately was to have 4 people doing this job (spotter for each team and graphics op for each team) it would probably become cost-prohibitive.

I think it’s a good idea – just wonder if it would be practical in application and visual (10 names is a lot of space). Again not trying to shoot it down just talking it through. The concept of the NHL doing more to connect players with fans is the right one for sure.

Russell Scibetti said on July 7th, 2011 at 11:17 am

Brian – thanks for the great insights from your background. It definitely provides a feel for what has to happen to make this, or any new media-technology initiative possible.

I’m hoping to pass this idea and some of the feedback I’ve gotten to a couple of folks I know at the NHL and Versus.

Brian Clapp said on July 7th, 2011 at 11:54 am

Good Luck! I would absolutely love to see the idea gain steam and make it on air. I think we are of the same mindset, I wrote just yesterday (on the fantastic website sportstvjobs.com wink wink) about how the NBA lockout is a huge opportunity for the NHL to embrace a whole new audience, and they need to take advantage of it.

One thought I had was on the announcers booth side of things. Best in the biz play by play guy Mike Emrick acknowledged that for the Stanley Cup playoffs he had to talk less x’s and o’s strategy and explain things a little more i.e. embrace the casual fan who might not normally watch, but tuned in to see the best of the best.

I think the NHL should “suggest” that all broadcast teams adapt a more embracing style next year – less hardcore hockey. Make sense of the game for the casual fan so they feel like they are a part of it, not an outsider borrowing the sport for a while. You of course don’t want to exile the hardcore fan by using the “haley’s comet” tail on the puck like fox did in the 90s, but there is a mix to be had that embraces the new without upsetting the old.

Having a few fan parties with Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin probably wouldn’t hurt either, after the Stanley cup those guys threw down!

Great discussion Russell – enjoying it.