Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Changes behind the microphones

A few comments on the changing of the guard in the broadcast booths of both TSN and SportsNet.

First up is the retirement of Linda Moore at TSN. Moore stepped down after 25 years of calling shots for the network due to some health issues.

Moore, in my opinion, was a wonderful broadcaster. She was always prepared, always had information at her fingertips and knew when to talk.

Her style was far more understated and calming compared to her longtime partner in the booth Ray Turnbull. He was gregarious, outgoing and dealt a lot more on emotions.

Moore often focused on the mental side of things and used a lot of stats in her comments. I think she also did a lot of work to stay current and keep up with the new teams, bringing valuable info out.
If she had one fault – in my own personal opinion -- I think at times, she actually leaned too much on the numbers and the coaching-style info (she is a level 4 coach) and not as much on the personality of the players. That’s my own preference of course.

Off the ice, you won’t meet a nicer person than Linda. She’s just a charming, warm and kind individual. She always has time for the fans and her friends and she will definitely be missed. She has been a huge supporter of the game in so many ways. I hope whatever health issues she has, she's able to conquer and that it doesn't impact her life in any way. 

In Moore's place, TSN said it will use a rotation of guest analysts for this year’s events and the first tryout went to Cheryl Bernard.

(I have no knowledge of who else will get a shot in the booth, but I’d be surprised if we didn’t see Jennifer Jones there at some point this year.)

For a first-timer in the booth, I thought Bernard did a marvelous job, especially when the women’s games were on. You could hear her gaining confidence and style as the week progressed. At first, some of the comments were quite basic but as the week at the Canada Cup progressed, she improved, providing insights that weren’t obvious to the viewer.

Calling a curling game is not as easy as it might seem with the biggest task being knowing when to talk and when to shut up. In essence, you have two other broadcasters in the booth as well as eight more on the ice.

To me Bernard navigated this better and better with every job and she brought good perspective, especially when commenting on the women’s style of play versus the men’s.

The other newbie to the microphone this year is Kevin Martin. Like Bernard, I’ve found Martin to be improving with each broadcast. He certainly has as much knowledge of what’s happening on the ice as anyone and also lots of background on the players. The toughest part is learning what the viewer will find relative and interesting. He’s doing that better and better.

I think Martin is going through just what Russ Howard had to learn when he first stepped into the booth. Because you are so advance in the game, you want to make sure you’re not talking over the heads of the viewers and providing details they can’t understand. So far, Martin’s done a good job of offering up explanations in a way that every knee-slider can see.

I’d love to see him bring out more info on the players’ styles, deliveries, quirks on the ice, etc., and not just the X’s and O’s of the game. He knows these guys well and can offer up those details. 

But all in all, he’s a great fit as a broadcaster.

So final question: Who do you think are the best commentators? Who would you like to see become one?  

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