Dear NHLNetwork,

This letter is to express my thanks. As a hockey fan, a lover of history and someone who greatly appreciates high quality execution, I am glad I was able to watch two documentaries yesterday. Long time readers here will know I’m not easily impressed. I expected last nights efforts to disappoint. I really truly did. I watched anyway knowing there was nothing I wanted to see half as much.

Both shows were a marvel. As a genuinely jaded individual and not one of the dilettante poseurs  who are professionally bored with everything, I take it as a given that production values on TV will be forever lacking. The warmth where others keep a heart when pleasant surprises while a little disconcerting was still welcome. The shows were filled with facts and evidence and people who knew what they were talking about! Marvel of marvels, only one of the players nation of birth was referenced.

An entire evening of good hockey television was had without provincial, priggish and pedestrian mooing’s of “good Canadian boy” or mind-numbing orations that wander all over the place for no purpose other than assuring viewers the speaker is really, really the bestest of buddies with whoever is (supposed to be) being discussed. The video editing was fantastic as well. The old videos were cleaned up nicely, but still left you knowing their was decades separation between the video and present day. Best of all, when Stephen Whyno, Mike Milbury and others shuffled into the shows as the night progressed their names were actually put on the screen each time.

It was an excellent night of TV watching NHL Rivals and Top 10 Goalies in NHL History. My beloved, and expensive NHLNetwork, why am I writing to thank you for someone else’s excellent programming? That’s simple, while you were busy doing what you do best, which is not show hockey, and running a news show on infinite loop I was able to tune into NBCSN. If there had been a hockey game on, or one of the surprisingly interesting NHL36 episodes covering a whole team, I would have missed out.


All my love and respect,

Puck Sage

P.S. I look forward to tuning into great shows like this again soon.

This feature will follow the various non-news tv shows surrounding the NHL and NHL teams.

What a confusing morass of not a lot. This is an anti-documentary. Zero context, just nothing. They show all 11 goals in the first game without any sorta backbone to it. Utterly formless.¬† No setup for the goals, no looks at the bench, and you don’t even get an idea how each players is doing in the post season with a given goal. After watching the goals for the first two games, I’m reminded how ugly most of the goals in that series were. But don’t worry, there are exciting interviews with Chris Pronger and Ben Eager. And by exciting I mean Patrice Bergeron’s appearance on NHL36 was more engaging, and Jonathan Toews shows more change of expression on an interview.

Brent Sopel’s goal immediately follows a goal only after review. Also, Michael Leighton is not an NHL goalie He is certainly a traditional Philadelphia Flyers goalie, but his ability to stop pucks is rival only by the ability of the city of Brotherly Love to suck the talent out of netminders. Also, Claude Giroux was useful in this series.

If you had only this show to work on you’d think all the goalies were awful, Dave Bolland was an All Star, and that Chris Pronger was the only Flyer allowed to talk to the media. Fortunately, the playoff beards are mighty. Kris Versteeg looks like a viking,

At 50 minutes into this long program you get to the start of game six. Its a blessing. There isn’t much to recommend this program, and given the weirdness of Kane’s cup clincher, Hossa getting the Stanley Cup from Toews is probably the real emotional highlight of the show.

What horrible production, this was a highlight show without the setup, and a documentary with and documentation. Even as a chance to relive the events if you watched it all, it lacks severely.

This feature will follow the various non-news tv shows surrounding the NHL and NHL teams.

Behind the B opens on June 24th as the NHL post season is winding down, just before the Chicago Blackhawks pick the Stanley Cup. After a depressingly quiet and still lockerroom scene it cuts away to the Bruins Brain trust, Cam Neely, Peter Chiarelli, Don Sweeney, Scott Bradley, Tom McVie and others

The war council is ready to lose players and it is immediately aparent they like most of their team. Andrew Ference is spoken of highly, but we know where that ends. Torey Krug comes up during that discussion, and the war council says they can see him stepping into Ference’s role.¬† They were not pleased to hear Nathan Horton would not be returning.

The Tyler Seguin discussions were fascinating. The most telling line was “We’re winning every year, we’re not babysitting.” Whatever else is said after that, even Chiarelli remarking that he thinks Seguin is a 35-40 goal scorer, that was the deathknell and it came early.

Neely in his sitdown with Loui Eriksson hammered home the need for consistent effort, and summed it up with; “You may not play well every night but you can work hard every night.”

After that the episode runs into puckbunny fluff. A couple minutes of Milan Lucic smaching guys on the ice, a couple goals, and then time sharing the screen with his baby daughter. Which is nicely edited to segue into the Jarome Iginla segment showing his fitness training, and reasons for choosing Pittsburgh.

Development camp featuring Malcolm Subban, Brian Ferlin, Anthony Camara, Seth Griffith, local boys Ryan Fitzgerald and Matt Grzelcyk and the rest of the young men. John Whitesides the strength and conditioning coach could be the inspiration for an evil dictator or drill sergeant in any Hollywood movie, particularly with a foul mouth that would shame most of Comedy Central’s roster.

The ‘quality’ of commercials forcibly reminds one of the early days of Versus; commercials repeated over and over, and over, and many of them for brands you’ve never heard of. Hooray for DVRs. Then a segment with Tuukka Rask and the nearly intelligible David Krejci. Making a special appearance at the golf course with Krejci and his big brother is Joonas Rask of the Nashville Predators.