St. Louis Blues: NBC Needs To Get Their Stuff Together

BOSTON - MARCH 6: AJ Mleczko, right, and play by play partner Chris Cuthbert rehearse their opening for the night's NBC Sports Network broadcast in the ninth floor booth. The Boston Bruins host the Detroit Red Wings in a regular season NHL hockey game at TD Garden in Boston on March 6, 2018. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BOSTON - MARCH 6: AJ Mleczko, right, and play by play partner Chris Cuthbert rehearse their opening for the night's NBC Sports Network broadcast in the ninth floor booth. The Boston Bruins host the Detroit Red Wings in a regular season NHL hockey game at TD Garden in Boston on March 6, 2018. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images) /

One of St. Louis Blues fans favorite pastimes is complaining about national television coverage. Mostly it is perception, but there is a lot more reality to it this year.

When it comes to the playoffs, St. Louis Blues fans love to rip on NBC and NBCSports. Go to any social media outlet and there will be dozens of posts each game about how biased everything is and everything of that ilk.

Normally it is more about our perception skewing our reality. In the 2019 playoffs, there is a lot more truth to it than just perception.

Before I go into this, a little background so it does not just seem like Joe Schmo ripping on something they know nothing about. One of my many side jobs is a freelance broadcaster.

I have done play-by-play, color commentary and even worked behind the scenes a bit. I know how difficult these things are to put together, even on a small scale.

Based on my experience, I also know that there is no way a national broadcaster will ever make the entire audience happy. We are so used to our local broadcasters, who give a biased slant, that anything less feels like they are against us.

Joe Buck gets hate from all sides, especially St. Louis Cardinals fans. However, if you watch a game as a neutral, there is nothing biased about his calls. The only time I ever had a problem with him was if he called St. Louis Rams games, it did feel like he would talk more about the other team based on a worry that people knew he was from St. Louis.

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On that topic, as far as the NHL goes, you can’t really judge things based on their packages. They discuss who they are going to talk about and when prior to each game and also prior to each series. If they show a highlight package on Jamie Benn, it was likely decided that would happen prior to the game.

It does get played during a time when the Stars are playing well only because it would make no narrative sense to show it if they were playing poorly. I would not be surprised if there were packages done on the Blues that were just not shown because they stunk up the joint in Game 4.

All of that said, they need to get their stuff together. I only use the word stuff because I try to keep profanity out of my articles.

Their coverage of this particular series, Game 4 in particular, was borderline embarrassing. They thrust a person not ready for the spotlight into primetime exposure. They also did show plenty of bias, whether they meant it or not.

When the Blues are on the road, I try to ignore the inflection in national broadcaster’s voices. It is hard to not be influenced by the noise of the crowd as to how loud you make your goal calls.

However, Kenny Albert and plenty of other broadcasters in this series and against Winnipeg sounded like they were about to come out of their suits when the opponents would score. There was faux excitement for Blues goals – just enough to give it credibility, but sounding more like oh, by the way, that team got a goal.

Then there is the ever popular Pierre McGuire. We have all tried so hard to let his stuff slide, but it just hits a nerve.

Broadcasters usually pride themselves on getting names correctly if/when they can. At this point, he is calling Alex Pietrangelo “Petra-angelo” on purpose. There is no way nobody has corrected him over the years and it not stuck in his brain. He also puts a French flair on David Perron’s name, but whatever. He is French Canadian, so it is passable.

The thing that got my knickers in a twist was his questioning of the coaches in Game 4. When he interviewed Jim Montgomery, coach of the Stars, it was asking about what he liked about his team’s play and their energy and jump.

Instead of asking Craig Berube about the Blues and what they were doing wrong when it was his turn, he asked a question about the Stars. The same question could have been asked to focus on St. Louis and instead McGuire wanted Berube’s take on Dallas and how well they were playing. It’s garbage and does nothing to dissuade people from believing the network is biased against St. Louis and other small or mid-markets.

The treatment of the Blues-Stars game for Game 1 was shameful too. Even people with NHL Network did not see parts of the game because the NHL mishandled the switching of the game.

The last thing that grinded my gears was the use of Kendall Coyne Schofield as the color analyst on this game. I have absolutely no issue with including female broadcasters, but they need to be prepared for the game and the moment.

Schofield was not. She honestly sounded like she was about to crap her pants.

I have not been a fan of AJ Mleczko’s work, but Schofield made Mleczko sound like a grizzled veteran behind the mic.

None of these people are awful broadcasters, but they are learning. Quite frankly, it disgusts me how hard it is for a play-by-play announcer to move up the ranks, hearing how you have to pay your dues each step of the way and see these people get NHL jobs before they are ready.

Coyne Schofield has experience. She was a communications major and also a sideline reporter while at Northeastern. She is not ready for that level yet, though.

She did not know what to say when set up for comments and, at times, made comments you would hear from any fan sitting in the 23rd row. That is not what you pay analysts for. They are supposed to relate what they have been through pertaining to the current situation and if I did not know she was a member of the US Women’s National Team, I would not have known she ever played.

You cannot do that. It cheapens the broadcast experience for both sets of fans and makes us feel like our viewing experience does not matter.

You have other broadcasters at your disposal. Joe Micheletti or even Mike Milbury would do fine. Hire Darren Pang. He manages to move from national to local broadcasts better than almost everyone.

There are certain things Blues fans, and all fans, will never really care for about national broadcasts. Those are things we just have to live with.

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When your broadcasters genuinely slant their discussions toward one team, regardless how the game or series is going, it’s too much. When you lessen the quality of your broadcast just to be trendy, it cheapens the viewing experience.

Those are things NBC can actually fix. Those are things, even if we doubt they will, they must fix.