Thursday, June 21, 2012

Vegas can have what happens in Vegas

With due respect to Evgeny Malkin, who was the best player in hockey this season, the Hart Trophy for NHL MVP should have gone to Will Arnett for saving last night's NHL Awards show in Las Vegas. Arnett's recurring Brendan Shanahan spoof was the only remotely redeeming feature of a broadcast that was only marginally more refined than a middle school variety show.
Between Nickelback's ill-suited noisemaking and Matthew Perry's overly self-deprecating opening monologue, the show stalled out of the gate and never got off the ground. The "no host" experiment was a flop, as the awards lurched awkwardly from one presenter to the next, interspered with the occasional nod to social media from the obligatory Barbie doll in the predictably revealing evening dress, and off-the-cuff chats between the award winners and Hockey Night in Canada's Kevin Weekes, who does a good enough job as a game analyst but was clearly out of his element as an interviewer.
It didn't have to be that painful, and the resources to make it a more palatable presentaton are right under the league's nose. TSN's James Duthie as host and Hockey Night's Elliott Friedman handling the interviews would have given the awards show the professional polish it lacked from a couple of experienced broadcasters who know how to build and maintain momentum and aren't afraid of a live audience. And how about letting some fans in, rather than packing the place with hockey people who look like they'd rather be anywhere else? A good show needs a good room, and last night's crowd came across like they were sitting shiva, complete with the feeling that the whole thing lasted a week.

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