"Crosby over the line... Sidney Crosby he can't bust in... up with it again, he's on the ice with Iginla.... Crosby scores!... Sidney Crosby, the golden goal... and Canada has a once-in-a-lifetime Olympic gold."
Welcome to "Henderson has scored for Canada" or "Touch 'em all, Joe". Chris Cuthbert's call of Sidney Crosby's golden goal on Sunday will be audio wallpaper for the next 50 years. So how did Cuthbert prepare for his possibility of Foster Hewitt-like immortality? "I'd thought about it for five years, since I got the assignment," he told Usual Suspects Tuesday after flying home from Vancouver. "I did have a call ready if the game ended in regulation. But everything went out the window in overtime. Whatever you think you'll get, you never get it, it's always a different script.
"To be honest, it was kind of a blur. The goal happened so fast, it wasn't easy to call. That's the beauty of the goal. It was a lightning stroke - when the mesh moved it took me by surprise. But Ryan Miller was even more surprised. I'm just glad it was a clean goal. Would I have liked another half-second? Maybe. It was your moment, you did your best, be proud of it."
"It's funny, I ran into Al Michaels of NBC two days before, and I told him I wished he hadn't set the bar so high with 'Do you believe in miracles?'" Cuthbert got his first public feedback at the Vancouver airport on Monday. "Yeah, I got a lot of feedback. I think a chord was struck with it. It doesn't hurt that it was Crosby." Cuthbert has no time to rest on his gold-medal laurels. Tonight, he's in Detroit for the Canucks/ Red Wings. At least he'll be used to calling Roberto Luongo games.
It's the NHL trade deadline in a few hours. No one is exactly sure what will happen after 17 days of GMs not getting mad at their players. Consensus seems to be that the suits will look to move contracts first, add players second. Just in case Brian Burke and Darryl Sutter decide to trade for the remainder of each other's teams, TSN, Sportsnet and The Score have all hands on board live till 3 P.M. in another scoop-a-thon.
The need for speed means we will learn that players have been traded but not know who for or how much till later. In another universe long ago this was considered unacceptable. Today it's simply the price of doing business on a day into which networks pour so much money and prestige. It shouldn't be. But it is.
"We'll rejoin The Marriage Ref in just a moment, but first, let's cut away briefly to the Winter Olympics..."
In an Olympics where NBC made just about every wrong call possible, cutting away from the Closing Ceremonies was the lipstick on the pig. Which made watching the Canadian consortium's coverage of the transcendent Vancouver Olympics that much more fulfilling. After a rough patch, Canada edged the U.S. in hockey; after a tough start, Canada thumped the Americans in broadcasting, too.
Having hosted Olympics on TV and radio, Usual Suspects understands that, for all the preparation, covering a Games is equal measures of preparation and luck. The technology is invariably new, the locations largely untested and the athletes are barely known as the Games open. Plus you're functioning in something between a circus midway and a police state. By the time you know what you're doing, the gig ends. The experience rarely transfers to two or four years later.
The biggest question for the CTV/ Rogers consortium was experience. Having not covered an Olympic Games since Barcelona in 1992, was there a Steve Armitage, a Don Wittman to frame the classic moments that invariably would come? With so many platforms to satisfy, could Keith Pelley's massive operation hold it together when events - like a death on the opening day - overtake the script?
The answer is a qualified yes. More experience would have been welcome, but nothing could replace the raw enthusiasm CTV/ Rogers poured on its project. Perhaps the best way to analyze what we just saw is to break it down by sport/ specialty.
Opening Ceremonies: The one time when time-delayed NBC beat CTV. Brian Williams and Lloyd Robertson did not bring out the best in either man. By the end, Williams sounded like a high school vice principal reading announcements on the PA. Over at NBC, Bob Costas and Matt Lauer were funny, informed, irreverent and serious when they needed to be. Evidently CTV agreed, employing James Duthie and Lisa LaFlamme for the closing ceremonies.
Hosting: Williams recovered to "own the studio" in the next 16 days (although why did designers have him sit a mile across the studio from his guests?). What inquisition there was from the consortium in the face of VANOC's problems came from the veteran host. Duthie, partnered with the oft-bewildered LaFlamme, took major steps forward. It's safe to ask if he's equalled or even surpassed Ron Maclean as the go-to host for NHL/ Olympics. After some awkward cheerleading moments, Jennifer Hedger, too, won her stripes in the boisterous outdoor studio in Whistler. As radiant as she often looked, she made sure the moments were about the athletes, not her. (Wish we'd had that wardrobe allowance in the day.) Michael Landsberg was, well, Michael Landsberg. He knows where the camera is, and he lets you know he's there. Darren Dutchyshen recovered from his unfortunate champagne assault on Alex Bilodeau and family to deliver a solid performance.
Sideline Reporting: Yes, Sara Orlesky had trouble understanding "English no good" from the Chinese pairs team.But outside the spare wearing the Scott Moir T-shirt in his hometown on the night of the dance final and the RDS reporter who thought she'd won the medal, this was a strong point. James Cybulski, Kartherine Dolan and Farhan Lalji largely eschewed flattery to get useful material in the sometimes painful moments after events.
Hockey: As a TSN/ Sportsnet specialty, this was a strong point going in, and remained an asset. Although seeing Nick Kypreos sitting beside Bob McKenzie was like Evgeni Plushenko hanging with Evan Lysachek. On the women's side, Cassie Campbell was far more engaging, charming and confident than we see on Hockey Night In Canada. Maybe this will be a springboard for her.
Figure Skating: CTV/ TSN/ Sportsnet made the odd decision to only use Jame Sale and David Pelletier together in the pairs coverage when they were the most interesting analyst voices of the Games. Rod Black employed his usual repertoire of great play-by-play with the Ron MacLean School of Puns and Platitudes. When he drops the Deepak Chopra, Black's almost as good as the other Rod...
Long-Track Speed Skating: Rod Smith. Authoritative. Dramatic. Informed. Passionate. The closest to Armitage at these Games. And that's the best.
Short-Track Speed Skating: The passionate hug between gold-medal winner Charles Hamelin and girlfriend Maryanne St. Gelais is one of the indelible images of the Games. Could have used a camera in the stands with the families-- a constant complaint with CTV versus NBC. But the producers knew enough to not get in the way of the pictures.
Curling: Is Vic Rauter the Vin Scully of curling? Smooth as a draw to the button.
Alpine: Poor Gerry Dobson drew the short straw with Canada's unfortunate alpine gig. His strength is sticking to the facts, and his only awkward moments came when he tried to get jocular with Brian Stemmle or Cary Mullen. Stemmle rightly drew heat for his surfer-dude call of Anna Paerson's scary crash.
Freestyle: Jamie Campbell is like a sinkerball pitcher. The more tired he gets, the better his results. So it was for Campbell, who called four Canadian gold medals at Cypress. Working with analysts who varied from splendid to specious, Campbell reined in an hysterical start to find his groove.
Bobsleigh/ Sliding: Hard to know why this sport didn't get more love from the producers. Always seemed jammed in between other events. The Jon Montgomery happening in skeleton was one of the Games' seminal moments. It might have also been the best work Rob Faulds has done. Hard to beat the coverage of the 1-2 medal punch in women's bobsleigh.
Cross Country: R.J. Broadhead didn't have a Canadian medal to call, but he was still a revelation. Controlled and contained, he let it happen. Jack Sasseville was an asset as analyst, too.
Classic TV Moments: Montgomery's auction call; Hamelin's kiss 'n cry; Devan Kershaw emotionally destroyed after the 50 k marathon ski; Moir and Virtue triumphant; Sid The Kid goes legend.
Overall Rating: B. It will be interesting to see how the experience translates in the huge spectacle in London in 2012.
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