Now that the Qualifier has begun, there are differences in how we watch New York Rangers hockey
Get used to it. Things are different with the New York Rangers ensconced in the Toronto hub. Because our local announcers and most local journalists are not in Canada, aspects of game coverage are missing.
First and foremost, personnel announcements are inconsistent. Traditionally, the media gets a shot at Dave Quinn in the hour before game time and he provides an update on the roster. Reporters will tweet out that information immediately.
Yesterday that didn’t happen. Somehow, the MSG Network team got the word about Henrik Lundqvist getting the start due to an injury to Igor Shesterkin and they led the pregame show with that news, but the other story line was Tony DeAngelo who had been ruled a game-time decision.
Normally, the announcers would have been able to see who was on the ice for the warmups and we would have known immediately if DeAngelo was dressed. Instead, we knew nothing until the game was about to begin. That was the first hint that the play-by-play guys not being in the arena would affect coverage.
Joe Micheletti is a master at counting players on the bench. He’s great at alerting us when someone is missing or returns from the locker room. Not in this game. Micheletti is watching the monitors and has no way of seeing the bench so he can’t tell us if a player is off for treatment or has returned.
Unfit to play
Who ever thought that we would be pining for the old “upper body injury” description? When Shesterkin was scratched, the immediate reaction was that he had tested positive. Considering the issues that Major League Baseball is going through, we all fear that hockey will be affected no matter how stringent the precautions.
Then, just like Sam and Joe, we saw the image of Shesterkin in the stands, watching the game.
Igor Shesterkin looks on pic.twitter.com/GRCS0r7sx4
— Rangers on MSG (@RangersMSGN) August 1, 2020
Shesterkin’s presence in the arena answered a crucial question about his being “unfit to play.” He hadn’t tested positive for COVID-19.
A player’s right to privacy is understandable, but by limiting the information to just whether a player is fit or unfit to play, it raises more questions than it answers. It’s a sticky wicket. If the NHL modified the language and added status such as “day-to-day” for short term injuries it would eliminate the virus from any such diagnosis, but then we would assume any player who isn’t day-to-day has it.
However, by adding “game-time decision” to the DeAngelo description it eliminated the coronavirus, though we still didn’t know the nature of his injury.
Earlier this season Blue Line Station took a look at the league’s injury policy and it is worth revisiting. It was at the time that Mika ZIbanejad’s early season injury was being called everything from a concussion to whiplash.
COVID-19 has changed everything and the verbiage was negotiated between the NHL and the players’ union. It would be nice if hockey players were forthcoming and revealed positive test results themselves.
One thing the pandemic has done is limited our access to the players and coaches. Coach David Quinn conducts a postgame Zoom call with a limited number of questions and little follow up. Two players each game are provided to the media for Zoom calls. While that’s standard for the playoffs, the lack of the postgame locker room interviews hurts.
After Game One the players were Mika Zibanejad and Henrik Lundqvist.
Henrik: “I enjoy being out there and competing. I think we did a lot of good things. We’ll watch some video and learn from this, and I’m sure we’ll be better in the next one.” pic.twitter.com/rWIwTRP4e6
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) August 1, 2020
It was great to finally hear from Lundqvist and if had not been one of the two players selected, it would have been a huge mistake by the team and the NHL.
While hearing from veterans is nice, we lost the chance to hear from some of the younger players who had never played in the postseason before. It’s not like we get many revelations from player interviews anyway, but one of the biggest story lines going into the game was the youth of this Rangers team. It would have been interesting to hear from Ryan Strome speak about his fight with Justin Williams. That is not going to happen.
There is no doubt that as this series progresses, there will be modifications to the flow of information. If there were 30 cameras on the game yesterday, it didn’t seem like it. Perhaps one camera isolated on each bench, available to the play-by-play team would help. Some kind of pregame press availability might help with information about lineups.
The NBC telecasts do provide more information as they actually have personnel in the arenas. That means when the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin, some of these issues will go away. In the meantime, we’ll have to put up with it.
Hey, Rangers’ hockey with limitations like these is better than no hockey at all.