On my way home from a CVS run tonight, I heard the perfect little illustration of how a home team hockey announcer treats his team compared to the opponent. It just happened to be Dave Maloney on the Rangers radiocast, but I'm not doing this to show up Dave, a good guy and strong analyst. Dave's no different than Kinger or Sherry or the guys in Buffalo and Calgary. That's just the way it is. I found this first period sequence tonight amusing.
Dave on Pittsburgh's Colby Armstrong getting a penalty for pulling down the slowish Rangers dman Jason Strudwick: "Oh, that's a bad play by Armstrong. Strudwick's not a guy who's going to beat you with his legs, so if you're Armstrong you have to be crisper on the forecheck. You have to come in with speed, you have to be smart and ready. The coach isn't going to be happy with that penalty by Armstrong." (Good, fair analysis).
Dave just seconds later on Sean Avery, who costs the Rangers their power play soon after it starts when he's called for interference when he gets in the way of Pens dman Sergei Gonchar: "Oh...Sean Avery...well...um, Avery's gotta be better than that."
That's harmless, understandable home team broadcasting, but sometimes it gets real stupid out there.
There was a game during the 2000-01 season in St. Louis when the Blues got an early lead and the home announcers decided to take the next two hours to poke fun at the state of the Islanders. One of the guys was Bernie Federko, who you'd think would know better. To the Blues' broadcasters, the Islanders were a joke of a franchise and they were part of one of the elite ones. I made a call to Bernie's executive producer the next day and it was never returned.
The next season the Islanders started off 11-1-1-1 and soon after the Blues had some ownership problems, a few bad seasons and a major disconnect with fans that Dave Checketts, JD and the rest of their staff are doing a nice job today digging out of.
I've never had a problem with some affectionate homerism as long as it doesn't get out of hand. Front-runners? That's as bad as it gets. I'd be real disappointed with King and Mears, Howie and Billy if they ever kicked another team while it was down. I don't think that's something we have to worry about. The class of this organization extends to our broadcast booths.