VERSUS' "NHL Overtime"on Tuesday night was, perhaps, the greatest hockey comedy we've witnessed since "The Love Guru."
It was disjointed, chaotic fun. It had host Bill Patrick looking like a disapproving chaperone and asking guest Jeff Skinner if he expected to score more goals this season than last. ("Uh, no, it was a real hassle Bill. I'm going to become the next Sammy Pahlsson instead.")
It had power rankings, despite some NHL teams having played one game. It had Jeremy Roenick compiling the following power rankings: The Philadelphia Flyers, San Jose Sharks, Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings. (Huh, now what do these teams have in common with Jeremy Roenick … incidentally, No. 6 was his former high school and No. 10 was his favorite T-shirt store.)
It had an underlying tension between panelists Ed Olczyk and Jeremy Roenick that was about as comfortable as a child custody hearing.
But the greatest moment on the show was Roenick's rant about Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby and how he can't stand it when Crosby answers the media's questions about the bruise on his brain with nothing more than the status quo. (s/t to The Pensblog, who covered this here.)
"Just don't interview him anymore," declares Roenick on the network that interviewed Crosby between periods on opening night about his health.
No, seriously: Roenick was yammering on about how Sidney Crosby gets asked too much about his injury a week after VERSUS asked him about his injury during a Bruins game.
Is he right about Crosby fatigue, or are these questions simply the ones that need to be asked when the best player in the world is rehabbing a significant injury?
"Just don't interview him anymore. I know he's the best player in the league, the best player in the world," Roenick said. "Head shots are very, very difficult. I'm not saying he's not hurt. There's no question. I've been hit very, very hard. I understand what concussions are all about. You have to be very concerned about this. But enough."
No one is saying Roenick is insensitive to the current concussion issue that is gripping hockey and various other sports. He just doesn't want reporters asking Crosby about it until he's playing.
"Get on the ice, let's get going. ... Let's start hitting. Let's get back in," Roenick said. "I don't wanna hear every day 'How's your head? How's your head? How's your head?' I don't wanna watch Sidney Crosby tell me every single day how there's nothing new to report. Enough already."
This is recent development for Crosby and the media, actually. Ever since his press conference, and since he became available to reporters after practices with the team, there are going to be questions and updates. This isn't some oversaturation of Crosby news — in fact, it's nowhere near the noise about him that we heard at the end of last regular season in anticipation of the playoffs — but rather necessary questions being asked on behalf of the fans, readers, viewers and national interest.
To wit: Look at Katie Baker's Sidney Crosby timeline again. There's a stretch from May through Aug. 15 in which neither the Penguins nor Crosby formally addressed his health.
Sure, it's annoying that Crosby has nothing to say, and that he also has nothing to say about his injury (rim shot). In Roenick's ham-fisted way, that's what he's getting at. But "just don't interview him anymore"? That's the solution? Why should reporters ignore the biggest story in hockey when VERSUS obviously can't?
It all came to a bit of a head towards the end of the show when, after Roenick "quoted" something he thought Olczyk had said regarding the Sedin twins. Olczyk tersely responded, seemingly to both Roenick and Patrick, "Listening is a skill, and you need to take a class in that, because that is not what I just said."
Olczyk won't be back for more Overtime tonight, as he'll be calling the Bruins/Hurricanes game earlier on for VERSUS. It'll be Keith Jones' turn to do battle with Jeremy Roenick. It'll be interesting to see if Eddie O. returns to the Overtime stage later in the season to go another 10 rounds with JR. It may not have been good television on Tuesday — it definitely wasn't better than the ever-improving NHL Live! earlier in the night — but it was certainly watchable, albeit in the strangest way.
It may not be what NBC is going for, but we'll tune in again as purveyors of squirm television. Needs more Milbury!