I've been taken to task recently for being too harsh in my criticism of Bob Cole, that my take landed squarely in the realm of 'ageism', and I've taken those comments to heart. I'm on record for wanting Mr. Cole off the air, and may have been too strident in my denunciations of his work.
The thing is, he actively detracts from my appreciation of a game, and causes me to want to watch something else, dive into my PVR'ed backlog of programming. "I'll catch the highlights on SportsCentre later on," I tell myself.
Both during the Penguins series, and now the Hawks-Kings, I get home and consult the listings, see a game is going on, and think I'll have that as my viewing choice while I make dinner, but when I turn it on realize that he's the play-by-play guy, and boom, shrinkage. "Mmmm, NOVA is on, "D-Day's Sunken Secrets", maybe I'll watch that right now instead of PVR'ing it..."
I understand you folks who've grown up with the voice of Bob Cole as the voice of hockey, you get the warm and fuzzies when you hear it, and want to phone your dad, but for me, I don't have those associations. I grew up on René Lecavalier, Richard Garneau, Gilles Tremblay, Lionel Duval, Claude Quenneville, and they were awesome.
If anything, Bob Cole is to me the voice of a Canadiens game being pre-empted and me being forced to watch a Leafs game instead with some new friends at university, and instead of watching Guy and Larry, being force-fed Bill Derlago and Allan Bester.
He also represents the decline of a proud organization. CBC Sports used to be a quality outfit, they did everything well. CFL, NHL, ski racing, whatever they covered, was done with class and professionalism, especially when compared to the shoddy production values at CTV, with Johnny Esaw and the bad graphics with spelling mistakes, or Ron Reusch's stumbling delivery and whiny voice. Olympic games covered by the CBC were flawless. Those games whose rights were won by CTV were amateurish and paled in comparison.
The CBC, now gutted by budget cuts, have lost their way, lost some of their premier talent, like Chris Cuthbert and Dave Hodge, and held on too long to staffers who should have been ushered into retirement. They chose ratings and buffoonery and stasis in the persons of Bob Cole and Don Cherry, instead of being leaders of the pack, setting the bar.
I'll say again, I fear what Sportsnet will do with the hockey games, we'll be told that the previous goal was brought to us by Del Monte's Rising Crust bandages, that Jarome Iginla is a Value-Village Veteran, the on-air staff will always have to 'V' up the word 'veteran', like they do with their constant whoring of the "MediumChef Memorial Cup".
So I'm choosing to not watch the Kings-Hawks game because of the way it's being brought to me, and as I often choose to not watch a Canucks game broadcast, because I don't enjoy hearing John Shorthouse and John Garrett natter on about ephemera. I resent being subjected to in-game reminders that the previous goal earned Mrs. Tellefson from Abbottsford B.C. a toaster oven courtesy of the good folks at Sure Bargain Mega-Emporiums.
So the CBC have coasted on their reputation of excellence until their ship was dead in the water, and I stopped watching. I'm a full RDS man now. And next season, if Sportsnet overpaid and have to banner their shows to extremes to make us pay for it in return, I'll probably tune them out too.
But yeah, the Blackhawks should make for good viewing, except there's a 'Frontline' special from last night that I should get to.