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Bits: 3 Ways to improve NHL broadcasts

<em>JT: Tale of three seasons.</em>
JT: Tale of three seasons.

Some discussion topics and links before Islanders report cards resume:

Three Ways to Improve NHL Broadcasts

These proposals relate directly to last night's Sharks-Red Wings broadcast, though they've lingered in my head for a few years.

Hockey on TV has always been limited by cameras and resolution, but now with bigger TVs and HD broadcasts that is improving. Rather than simply making the puck bigger and player mullets clearer, though, I'm wondering if those tech advances could shows us more of the game -- and tell us more of what's going on. That's a big part of my first reason for desiring some changes to how hockey (at least playoff hockey, when stakes are high and budgets are big) is televised:

1. Widen the Standard Broadcast Angle. Thanks to their wide aspect ratio HD TVs already show us a little more of the rink during the standard rink-side play-by-play view. But I could handle more. People won't like this comparison, but soccer broadcasts at a much larger angle by necessity. You see more of the play develop as a result.

Two examples from last night illustrate this. Joe Thornton made a bad pass in the offensive own zone that Pavel Datsyuk retrieved and took the other way to score on a beautiful shot from the high slot. Thornton didn't see Datsyuk because he'd just come on from a line change; viewers didn't see Datsyuk because the camera didn't give us a view extending toward the bench side of the rink. Later, Thornton had a breakaway thanks to a "stretch" pass by Dan Boyle from his own zone. Thornton lurked behind Nicklas Lidstrom and broke free. When Boyle released the puck, viewers had no idea why. In that moment, we as viewers could have known what Lidstrom didn't.

Pull the camera back some -- you can still show your selective close-up action shots as usual -- and we see the lurking backchecker, the guy open for a one-timer on the other side of the zone, the Thornton lurking at the opposition blueline. It would lead to fewer jerky camera jolts as the cameraman tries to follow the puck, too.

2. Show Line Changes before Faceoffs. Hockey is a fast-moving, complex game. Its fast pace doesn't lend to instant analysis like that in football, basketball and baseball -- three games that spend lengthy periods (or timeouts) with no action. But that doesn't take away from the strategy. A fundamental part of that strategy is which players you play and when you play them -- particularly during the playoffs. Last night announcers referred to multiple times when old colleagues Mike Babcock and Todd McClellan were making late line changes in between whistles, trying to match up. The officials even needed to warn the benches about late changes one or two times (or more).

Instead of showing us lingering shots of the goalie or the latest goal scorer's face on the bench ... how about showing us the actual act of who's coming on or off the ice. One thing I'd love to see more is who the home coach puts on and then immediately pulls off after seeing the road coach's move.

3. Confiscate and Destroy All One-Piece Sticks. Last night's game turned on a late game-winner that occurred because Lidstrom broke his stick on a shot attempt at the point. The Sharks' most dangerous trio took it the other way and scored. Lidstrom made it back into the play but was helpless to defend because he lacked the hockey player's most important piece of equipment. A great playoff game was decided by equipment failure. That's pathetic.