There are many great things about being a Montreal Canadiens fan; a historic franchise, a pretty cool arena and a plethora of hall-of-famers are just a few reasons why I love my team.
Thereís always been one drawback, though; I canít watch the games in English.
At least, I thought it was a drawback until I ordered RDS, the French equivalent of TSN, last season so I wouldnít miss any games. I barely speak a word of French, so I was apprehensive at first. Then I started watching the games and realized something very quickly: English coverage sucks.
In fact, it sucks so much Iíll watch Soirée du Hockey Molson Export every Saturday, even if the Habs are playing on Hockey Night in Canada.
Gone are the days when Bob Cole and Harry Neale captivated an audience. Now, the CBC broadcasts are marked by an overall lack of excitement mixed with a quickly-progressing case of Alzheimerís.
RDS commentators Yvon Pedneault and Pierre Houde, on the other hand, bring electricity to the game. The French duo actually fluctuate their voices throughout the broadcast, raising pulses when a big play is about to happen.
Furthermore, the production values of the French network are far better. During HNIC, you canít hear the crowd or the skates the way you can on RDS, where they make a point of cranking the volume on the game mics.
Why muffle the sounds that truly define the game in favour of two senile has beens stumbling over jersey numbers?
The English broadcasts are also known for blatant camera blunders. How many times have you missed the faceoff because the cameraman forgot to pan away from Rod BrindíAmourís ugly mug?
Many would argue Iím an idiot for watching coverage in a language I donít understand when the English alternative is readily available to me, but that further proves my point.
The French coverage is so superior Iím willing to watch an entire hockey game oblivious to what the commentators are saying.
The only real advantage Hockey Night in Canada has over Soirée du Hockey is Don Cherryís Coachís Corner. However, former Stanley Cup champion coach Jacques Demersí intermission segment on RDS is as informative and entertaining as Cherryís signature ramblings.
I can easily switch to CBC during intermission, though, and during that time I really donít care about the play-by-play guys.
What should be done? For the moment, not a whole lot can be ó there simply arenít any English commentators right now who can match the calibre of old staples Foster Hewitt and Danny Gallivan, or even pre-senility Cole and Neal.
TSNís Gord Miller and Pierre McGuire are the broadcasting equivalent of Wade Belak and Aki Berg, so until somebody can establish themselves it looks like the English coverage isnít going anywhere.
Basically, the feeling of watching HNIC after Soirée du Hockey is the same lacklustre sense you get watching American coverage. Thatís why, until the English coverage picks up its performance, Iíll take ďEt le but!Ē before ďHe shoots, he scores!Ē any day of the week.