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NHL Winter Classic 2011: NBC Disappoints Hockey Fans Everywhere

PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 01:  A general view is seen as the Pittsburgh Penguins take on the Washington Capitals during the 2011 NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic at Heinz Field on January 1, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Washington won 3-1.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
Erik PaulCorrespondent IDecember 1, 2016

I'm a huge Penguins fan, and my brother is a diehard Capitals fan. We've both been looking forward to the Winter Classic all season.

The NHL built up this game better than any other game in regular season history with heavy advertising surrounding the Crosby vs. Ovechkin battle and the debut of HBO's instant hit, "24/7 Penguins/Capitals: Road to the NHL Winter Classic."

In the last couple of days the weather in Pittsburgh hasn't been exactly cooperative, causing the start time to be pushed back, from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. EST. Warm temperatures and regular rain plagued ice conditions throughout the game.

Unfortunately, that wasn't the biggest problem with the game that was broadcast nationally on NBC.

NBC spent so much time focusing on the surroundings and hyping the Crosby vs. Ovechkin matchup that they missed large parts of the game. When showing highlights it was always Crosby or Ovechkin, despite the fact that neither played very well, and they usually missed the start of the next play.

Then there was the SkyView camera angle; NBC wired a camera to move above the game and used it relentlessly. The problems were that you couldn't see the puck most of the time, and when someone would make a pass to someone out of its view, it would have a delay before the puck was found again.

Also, about halfway through the first period (during play), they zoomed completely out to look around at the stadium; the play was still going!

The commentary was also absolutely brutal. Mike Emrick is normally a pretty decent commentator, so I'm not sure if NBC told him to dumb it down, but the whole game he spoke like he was teaching hockey to a group of preschool kids who had no idea what it was.

I understand that the league is trying to target nontraditional hockey fans, but it was condescending to the point that I just muted it a few times to end the madness.

One of the gems he said was something along the lines of (speaking about Crosby and Ovechkin), "We're just so lucky to have these two superstars in the same solar system galaxy." Classic, right?

Emrick also seemed completely stunned that the rain and the water on the ice made the ice slower, rather than faster. Water is a lubricant, right? No, and if you'd ever played hockey you would know the answer to that without making yourself sound like an idiot.

I happened to check out NBC's website during the game, figuring there would be some bonus coverage, some live feeds and that kind of thing. The picture above is a screen shot of their home page, with the tiny box about the NHL. And, the supposed link to more information doesn't even work!

After how effectively the NHL set up this game, I was expecting a whole lot more in terms of coverage. Even though they are trying to target non-hockey fans, if I wasn't already a hockey fan, watching this game would make me wonder why I would ever want to watch another one.

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