One of Hockey Night in Canada's greatest assets is its reporting - something neither TSN nor Rogers Sportsnet quite matches on a big story. So why in the name of Ward Cornell did Hockey Night completely ignore the death of 28-year-old Derek Boogaard in its pregame show Saturday? Weren't the CBC's news instincts even a little piqued by the mysterious death of a prominent NHL player who'd suffered a fighting-related concussion this season and … oh wait, maybe we're answering our own question.
Scott Oake was first to mention Boogaard during the subsequent game telecast. When Hockey Night finally did pay more than lip service to Boogaard in the first intermission of the Boston Bruins-Tampa Bay Lightning game, the host felt compelled to hijack the moment for some gratuitous wordplay.
Boogaard was a controversial figure, the one-dimensional intimidator the league is purging from its teams (postmortem tributes to his scoring touch are fanciful). Off the ice, he was quite different from his on-ice persona. He'd been battling postconcussion syndrome most of this season, and it was also revealed he was in the NHL's substance abuse program. Sounds like enough material for, at the very least, an obit during the Scotiabank Hockey Tonight pregame show.
Yet all Hockey Night could talk about for half an hour Saturday was "guys getting in the passing lanes" and "Tampa's 1-3-1." Elliotte Friedman's fine piece on University of Vermont alumni Tim Thomas and Martin St. Louis seemed irrelevant next to the Boogaard story. And Ron McLean reciting, without trace of irony in light of Boogaard's death, the words to Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting was simply inane.
Thankfully, Don Cherry - you can count on him for this, at least - had the decency to note Boogaard's passing and try to give some dignity to a player who did the dirtiest, most dangerous job in hockey. A moment MacLean did his best to diminish by noting that two of Boogaard's brothers were in law enforcement. MacLean then put on his grave look and said, "Three great policemen in that family." Come on, Ron, you're better than that.
FULL DISCLOSURE PLEASE
Cherry took umbrage when cameras caught a Bruins assistant coach putting his arm around rookie Tyler Seguin, who'd scored his first NHL playoff goal Saturday. Cherry roasted the unnamed coach for being a glory hog who was horning in on Seguin's moment. What The Don didn't say was the coach was Geoff Ward, whom Cherry had fired during Cherry's disastrous ownership sojourn (27 wins in 272 games from 1998 through 2002) with the Mississauga Ice Dogs. Ward was one of three coaches fired by Cherry in one season alone. No doubt Hockey Night will give Ward - AHL co-coach of the year in 2002-03 - a chance for rebuttal of the great man's mean-spirited words.
Wonder who will be fired for putting comedian Sarah Silverman on Fox TV's Baseball Game of The Week? Ostensibly booked to flog her new Fox series, the profane Silverman served up zingers to a fawning Joe Buck and a mortified Tim McCarver. "Being a Red Sox fan is about being a loser," noted Red Sox fan Silverman. Winning it all in 2004 "was very identity-crisis-y. … You were stuck going, 'What do we do now? This doesn't feel like us.'" Silverman then went on to elaborate on Red Sox fandom, most of it bleeped by Fox censors.
Next, Silverman suggested pitchers use LSD when they pitch - just like the infamous Doc Ellis in 1970. Host Buck tried to steer the conversation away from psychedelic sinkers, prompting Silverman to cheerily suggest she was only talking about major-league pitchers, not kids, doing acid. "Let's move to the next topic," Buck said as McCarver sat in stony silence beside her.
Finally we learned that Silverman's Fox trot was prompted by a network executive seeing her wearing a Red Sox hat on a plane. "My hat is a Red Sox beanie, which I wear when I'm cold. Which is often cuz' I'm Jewish." And … scene.
ESPN and TSN analyst Matthew Barnaby, a former NHL player, was arrested for domestic assault last Friday. TSN spokesman Greg McIsaac tells Usual Suspects, "Barnaby was working for ESPN throughout the playoffs and was not slated to be on TSN again this season. Matthew's last guest appearance on TSN was in March. As the matter is before the courts, we have no further comment."
Maybe Hockey Night sought inspiration from ESPN's University of Alabama correspondent Albert Lin on the Boogaard story. In a story last week about the sudden death of Crimson Tide lineman Aaron Douglas, Lin took a few moments to speculate on how this would affect the Tides' left tackle position this coming season. ESPN rapidly pulled the item.
Good get by NBC at The Players Champions on Saturday as Ian Poulter sprinted to finish the 17th and 18th holes so he wouldn't have to get up early Sunday to complete his Saturday round. After leaving playing partner Dustin Johnson in his, er, dust on the 17th green, Poulter got Phil Mickelson's twosome ahead to stand aside as he hit his drive on the 18th. "I'm not sure about the etiquette of this," NBC analyst Johnny Miller said, puzzled. You might say that. For Poulter, who's often crazier than a sprayed roach, it was par for the course.
Why NBC is the best on golf: Producer Tommy Roy caught a saddleback turtle doing a Greg Louganis off the green into the pond to the loud cheers of the crowd. "He overrotated on that one," host Dan Hicks said. "That's going to cost him."