Canadians of a certain disposition like to question Americans' passionate love of country, Old Glory, etc.
In their estimation, this fervour hints at a certain excitability in our southern neighbours. Strange, then, that it's the Canadian broadcast institutions, Hockey Night in Canada and TSN, that show the full performance of the national anthems before NHL playoff games, while the NBA's U.S. TV carriers - ABC, ESPN and TNT - largely eschew the televised ritual of singing The Star-Spangled Banner prior to games.
Sure, the raucous spectacle in Chicago or Vancouver is worth noting - sometimes. The question is why Canadian networks think every single minute of every single anthem (maximum 107 presentations in the 2010 NHL playoffs) makes compelling TV? (Need we add that many of the current crop of warblers are a few movements short of a symphony?)
Since Roger Doucet's bravura performances at the old Montreal Forum in the 1970s, the handbook of TV production apparently mandates that a rendition of O Canada and The Star-Spangled Banner is the best way to show viewers that the crowd is excited. (As if 10 seconds of crowd shots prior to the faceoff wouldn't suffice.)
If there is no better editorial content than another anthem, then simply start the game - as NBA contests do - five or six minutes after coming on-air.
Last Wednesday, it took about 11 minutes to get through the preamble, set-up and two national anthems before the Canucks-Chicago Blackhawks clash at GM Place in Vancouver (typical for most games). The NBA playoff game between the Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs was already under way six minutes into the telecast - the anthem having been rendered away from the cameras in lieu of a prompt start. With no less anticipation or drama.
The only anthem singing Usual Suspects has witnessed on TNT was a snippet of Milwaukee Bucks veteran Jerry Stackhouse mangling The Star-Spangled Banner prior to Game 6 of the Bucks' series against the Atlanta Hawks in Milwaukee.
So why not start games promptly and give the extra camera time to, say, CBC hockey analyst Don Cherry, who seems in a permanent state of agitation about being squeezed into his time slot?
I Hear Voices
Toronto all-sports radio station the Fan 590 has entered its duck phase. With new program director Don Kollins fresh on the job, things look placid above the water, but below the surface the feet are churning.
Above the surface there have been cosmetic changes - the morning-drive show is now called Landry & Stellick, followed by the Mike Hogan Show. All else seems normal, with Bob McCown and Prime Time Sports still king of P.M. drive time.
Below the surface, however, members of the station's Fan Club were sent a survey recently, asking them to assess the performance and name appeal of certain radio hosts. It included the Fan's own hosts (and former host Norm Rumack), plus a few of the competitors such as Toronto AM640's Andy Frost, Bill Watters and Greg Brady. Also included for perusal in the audio file was former MOJO Radio (which later morphed into AM640) and current News 95.7 host Andrew Krystal.
Krystal, who's been in Halifax since 2005, told Usual Suspects he has no idea how his voice got on the Fan 590 survey. So inquiring minds asked Kollins, who replied by e-mail that the station "just wanted to test some of the biggest names in the region that are in the talk game. [Krystal]was one of the names of the past that came up, so I threw it in."
So move along, nothing to see here …
None of what you hear and half of what you see: That's a good prescription for the credibility of many Facebook.com and Twitter.com sources. NBC Chicago and MSNBC are the latest to learn this inconvenient truth after a story about a pizza crawl involving the Vancouver Canucks was misinterpreted.
Hockeyindependent.com ran a joke post about Kyle Wellwood and Shane O'Brien being disciplined for organizing a "pizza crawl," when they came to Chicago for the start of Round 2 of the NHL playoffs. The two broadcast outlets picked up the fake story of the players being fined by the Canucks as fact and ran with it.
MSNBC.com had a screen grab of the Hockey Independent spoof up for a full week before finally pulling it. Oops.
We'll take a Dustin Byfuglien all-dressed to go, please.