Friday, December 01, 2006

So close you can see them spit

TSN tries something new Friday night as they feature the Rangers/Sabres game on their national broadcast. Borrowing a page from the earliest days of broadcasting, TSN will move Chris Cuthbert and Glen Healey from the relative luxury of a broadcast booth high above the rink, to a rinkside location between the benches at the HSBC Centre.

It will be the first time in modern NHL history that the play by play and colour commentator have broadcast the game from ice level, a change that should make for an interesting night of hockey television.

Will the pace seem faster, will the words be profane, and will the spit be in HDTV? All questions we’ll find out as TSN takes the game into a new direction for one night.

The move has been under discussion for a while at TSN, which has experimented with parking Healey or Pierre McGuire in the gap between benches off and on this season. But moving Cuthbert down to ice level is going to bring a new approach to the game.

He may lose track of a player or two as the night progresses, especially the Sabre players who tend to move rather quickly once they get going. But the atmosphere of being at ice level should add to the atmosphere of the broadcast. The league is putting together a list of other rinks that could handle the rinkside broadcast team, but only a few have come to mind Tampa, Boston and Buffalo in the States and maybe Toronto in Canada.

Of course with change comes risk, it will be interesting to see how the duo do with sticks flying by and pucks whizzing around the boards, one stray stick one deflected shot and TSN might have to go to a silent movie theme for the rest of the night.

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