Like many non-lottery team fans, my excitement over last night’s drawing was less about the lottery itself and more about “OMG new hockey related news in this horrible dead time before the playoffs that already has me on the verge of a panic attack thinking about the offseason and how am I going to survive if there’s work stoppage? And-”
*takes deep cleansing breaths*
Anyway, the lottery results were actually interesting for a change as the Columbus Blue Jackets continued their season of Epic Fail, being screwed out of the #1 pick so Edmonton can continue their rebuilding dynasty. I’ll have a lot more to say about the draft in June, but I did want to talk about the draft lottery presentation before we all get caught up in the excitement of the playoffs.
I really, really hate the TSN practice of inviting the GMs to sit together on the panel in the studio.
Hockey isn’t a goddamn reality show.
For the record, I love the all-star game draft. It’s a way to make the weekend more entertaining for the fans because that’s what the ASG is about, fans having fun.
The draft lottery is fundamentally about the business of hockey. I love voyeuristic glimpses into the business side of hockey that fans get with shows like 24/7 and Oil Change or when head honchos like Bettman, Daly, Campbell, and Shanahan answer questions about what’s happening ‘behind the curtain’.
The draft lottery presentation broadcast on TSN (and simulcast on NBC Sports in the US) doesn’t give fans insight into the business hockey, because it’s in direct opposition to it. The TSN crew ask the GMs about what they are going to do with their draft picks and the GMs do a nice little tap dance with platitudes about ‘talent’ and ‘work ethic’ because that’s all they can do. Telling the world their drafting strategy would border on the absurd and even the most incompetent GMs (several of whom are on the panel) would do never something so damaging.
So you’ve got five guys sitting there in the studio not saying anything meaningful. Why? When you’ve got Bob McKenzie (who could find something insightful to say about a phone book) hanging around backstage this doesn’t seem like a productive use of air time.
What the lottery presentation does is turn a potentially earth-shattering franchise moment into a warped version of the Bachelor. Duthie might as well hand Tambellini a rose (at least then he might look less awkward standing there). But it’s not like Howson was going to burst into tears at being passed over and head off to do a confessional about how Tambo sucks and totally shouldn’t have gotten that pick.
Look, I get the idea behind this practice is to put a human face on the franchise, to make a business decision dramatic television. Considering how these teams are lottery teams because they sucked and the GMs are often under fire (or flat out despised) by their fan base and others around the league, why on are earth does it make sense to use them as humanizing figures? Why not use fans of the team? What about using local radio/tv analysts or former players who serve as ambassadors for a team? What about spending more time interviewing guys who are consensus top 10 picks?
Any of these options would be more entertaining and insightful than what we’ve currently got going.