(Ed. note: This is a sponsored post for Felipe. If you want me to write about any old thing in hockey, all you have to do is donate $50 below. It’s easy and fun. Bye.)
One thing that seems to really bother lots of hockey fans is when opposing teams have announcers that are incredibly over the top homers for the teams they cover. I myself am guilty of considering the Detroit announce crew, for example, to be completely embarrassing, and perhaps most famously consider the Penguins guys the worst in the league by a pretty considerable margin.
But now I’m starting to wonder why this is. Perhaps the most famous example of guys who are universally despised by fans across the league is Boston’s Jack Edwards, who is by his own admission a gigantic Bruins homer. On a recent broadcast, he brought this fact up himself, and added, “So what?” And I guess at the end of the day that’s a pretty good question.
It wasn’t until the advent of Center Ice and GameCenter Live that we even ever got to actually hear other announcers at all, unless we were unfortunate enough to have to travel to Pittsburgh or Detroit to begin with. But when the technology allowed us to watch hockey at all hours of the day and night, these guys were foisted upon other teams’ fans, and were immediately found distasteful. But the fact of the matter is that just because a guy is clearly partisan in favor of some team you don’t care about that doesn’t determine whether he’s actually good at his job. Edwards may be a homer, but if you can slog past that — admittedly not easy — he actually calls a pretty damn good hockey game; he’s prepared, he’s not entirely unwilling to give the other team credit (unless it’s Philadelphia or Montreal), he brings a decent amount of excitement to his broadcasts. Does he occasionally, say, cackle when Randy Jones gets run from behind? Or jump up and down with glee at a crazy Bruins comeback while Andy Brickley stands back in abject horror? Sure he does. I’ve met Jack Edwards on a few occasions, too, and I can assure you that his “act” is anything but. He legitimately loves the Bruins, and if he were calling games for your team, you’d love him for his enthusiasm.
But again, Edwards is at least good at his job. He could call games on NBC Sports Network between two non-Bruins teams and you likely wouldn’t miss Doc Emrick at all. I’ve heard Edwards and Brickley call college hockey games and they’re great broadcasts because those guys are great broadcasters, Bruins homers though they may be. On the other hand, it’s difficult to imagine a guy like Paul Steigerwald or John Shorthouse (Vancouver) or John Ahlers (Anaheim) doing the same. Those guys are all homers to varying extents, but they also aren’t good at calling hockey games.
The only reason people hate Edwards, I think, is that they don’t like or at least don’t care about the Bruins, and all he does is rain sunshine and kisses on them at every turn. It’s easy to see where that would grate, obviously. But where Edwards differs from, say, Ken Daniels is that he calls the hockey game, and that’s ultimately his job. He describes the play well — Jack Edwards Bingo terms aside — and defers to Brickley’s analysis rather often.
The thing is, too, is that this isn’t really any sort of new phenomenon. One of the most famous examples I’ve heard of this, and it used to be told by an old-school Habs fan I know with great verve, is likely apocryphal, but serves to illustrate the point of what being a homer broadcaster is all about pretty well:
After his playing days, Maurice Richard became some sort of color guy for the Canadiens, and was in charge of picking the broadcast’s the three stars of the game. In one such instance, after a game against, say, the Blackhawks (I don’t remember and it doesn’t really matter), he said, “You know, for the first star tonight I want to pick Jean Beliveau. He had a goal and an assist in this game and really helped out Les Habitants with his performance. For the second star, I will pick my brother Henri Richard, because he had a goal as well. For for the third star, I will pick Stan Mikita from the Blackhawks because without his hat trick Chicago wouldn’t have won 3-2.”
That’s what homer announcers are and what they’re supposed to do. The only reason you should get mad at them is if they even suck at that. And a lot of them do, so be mad all you want.
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