December 30, 2010
For all the innovations in the NHL All-Star Game this season, they clearly haven't gone far enough. Who knew all you needed to increase the entertainment factor for the shot accuracy competition was Russian nesting dolls filled with Russian dressing? Thanks, ESPN and Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin(notes)!
Not sure if we should be thankful or disappointed that they didn't opt for these nesting dolls instead.
This is an ESPN SportsCenter viral clip making the rounds today, and it's worth paying attention to in the big picture.
The most compelling argument for the NHL to return to ESPN is that the network is so adept at star[bleeping], and that the NHL has more marketable stars now (Ovechkin, Crosby, Kane, Toews, Malkin, Stamkos) than it had when ESPN had the television rights. If the NHL went back, this sort of thing would become commonplace insofar as marketing the game.
Which leads us to the other obvious question: Why hasn't VERSUS done anything like this? They've had the rights since the lockout; shouldn't they be the ones doing the viral clips with Ovechkin or interviewing the Green Men or chatting with the Belfast Giants?
VERSUS gives the NHL enormous airtime, great game coverage and makes it the centerpiece of its schedule during the playoffs. But is that enough to make up for the lack of ESPN-esque spotlights on its stars? They're the steak without the sizzl.