It seems to be a major priority to get the NHL back on ESPN, or other major U.S. networks, while disregarding the fine job that Versus has done covering the league. This American hockey fan disagrees with that sentiment.
Sure, ESPN reaches many more households than Versus, but how many of those “many more households” watch hockey? It’s like the old philosophical question about the tree falling in the woods.
Furthermore, for years now, regular-season “network coverage” of all the major sports in the U.S. has usually meant a national telecast of a game involving at least one New York team, called by the same old-boys club of New York-based announcers. (Does NBC realize there are 29 other teams in the NHL besides their beloved Rangers?)
What Versus has done is to introduce hockey fans in the U.S. to some of the better regional NHL play-by-play men and analysts, like Joe Beninati, John Forslund, Andy Brickley, Darren Eliot, etc.
And one of the best analysts on either side of the 49th parallel is Darryl Reaugh, whose entertaining style is perfectly suited for newer hockey fans in the States.
As a bonus, Versus also picks up the odd feed from the Canadian networks, so American fans can appreciate the way the game is covered in its home and native land.
If more NHL games on the “major” U.S. networks means more of Steve Levy and Kenny Albert, and less of “Razor,” I would be perfectly content to let them continue to pollute their channels with football, Nascar and poker. Let Versus continue to provide real hockey fans with their excellent coverage of our sport.
Richard S. O’Kane, Rye, N.H.