Playing in Montreal has proven to be a good thing. Not only did the Bruins win, but Versus didn't carry the game. That meant that I could finally watch the playoffs with the sort of grin only crazy Jack Edwards can bring.
The first two games in Boston were exclusively carried on Versus, at least for those of us not in New England. Now... I've never had anything against Versus.
I knew I was in trouble before the drop of the puck in game one. The Versus crew did the usual pregame goaltender meet and greet. They started off with Price, telling us how how amazing he was, never mind the mediocre stats they were displaying. I just found it amusing. When they finally stopped gushing about Price they turned to Thomas, almost as an afterthought, and said something to the effect that, "he's pretty good too." But they didn't say that like you might have expected them to, it was more in a begrudging way. At first I thought I was imagining things. Then they showed Thomas' stats and never mentioned that they lead the league or that the save percentage was an all-time single season record. I would have thought that would be of interest! And when it was mentioned that Timmy might win the Vezina, the other guy quickly jumped right in and said that Price was a legit Vezina contender too. Really? It was just plain ugly. I'd be willing to bet that the French broadcast showed more respect. Seriously. I would take that bet.
It was just weird. I mean, Versus is a US network--I can't think of any reason they'd expect Habs fans to be watching in larger numbers. And hey--I watch other market broadcasts from time to time so I'm no stranger to the usual bias. It doesn't often bug me that much.
But that was just the start. Every time they would talk about the Habs their comments would enthusiastically celebrate them, but when they talked about the Bruins they sounded... unhappy, forced.
But even that wasn't all of it. The broadcast team also seemed really unprepared. When they talked about the Bruins everything was a little off the mark. For instance they made a big deal about Julien choosing to play Thornton over Seguin. Huh?
That's only one example of the commentary being a bit "off." It just went on and on like that.
Imagine you are at a large party at your Mother-in-law's. Imagine too that you just had a recent success at work, where you do something highly technical. You may not have to imagine this next part: your Mother-in-law loathes you.
So she starts telling everyone how wonderful you are, in a disingenuous way, and inaccurately describes the nature of your success at work.
Watching Versus (or is it really NBC now?) cover this series was just like that. I was infuriated before they even dropped the puck! I mean, I wanted to hit something! Not fun. Not fun at all.
And shame of all shames... they showed commercials rather than the national anthems! It's the playoffs for god's sake!
But I did find a solution to the Versus problem during the first period of game 2. I tuned in to the Bruins radio broadcast on the web and listened to it with the TV muted. In the two minutes it took to hook it all up it was already 2-0 Habs. But even then the tension eased. And though the Bruins lost that game I was no longer irritated to the point of chewing nails!
P.S. It occurs to me that a clarification may be in order. I have no problem at all with local broadcasts being biased. Like most Bruins fans I want Jack Edwards to be biased! But Versus takes away my ability to watch the local broadcast via their exclusivity agreement. They are a national broadcast and must celebrate both teams equally.
P.P.S. I just read that Versus signed a new contract with the NHL that gives them and NBC exclusive rights to all the playoff games starting in the second round. God help us.