Being a Hawks fan this season hasn’t been pleasurable. We all know that. Even the most cynical amongst us before the season never saw this coming, though there was no way to see that Corey Crawford would miss over half of it. No matter how well the Hawks play for the past couple months, they’re just a bad goal away from everything going to shit. And that bad goal is always arriving. And sometimes they don’t play well and they get steamrolled. Vets haven’t performed, or have gotten old, or both. We get it. It’s been a slog. Tuning in sometimes feels like a chore, and that’s if you’re still bothering.
If you are, what you’ll find is a broadcast that’s making it even worse.
As we always say, writing this king of thing is a knife to the heart for us. Pat Foley is the soundtrack to a good portion of our childhoods, and his calls of some iconic Hawks moments last with me forever. But that doesn’t change the fact that he’s turned most of these games into a funeral dirge, and quite frankly that’s not what the job is.
For the past few months, you can hear the laments out of Foley’s voice several times per game. And hey, part of the job is calling out mistakes and bad plays. We don’t want a cheerleader either. But it’s gone way beyond that. It’s as if the entire team offends Foley’s sensibilities and is beneath him, which doesn’t make the viewing experience any better. Which has only led to longing for more neanderthalic aspects, like hit stats or fighting. If it’s beneath you, Pat, then why are we here? Are you above us, too?
Granted, Foley and Olczyk always cited hit stats when the Hawks were good, but it’s insulting to the audience because we know at this point that the Hawks don’t require “MOAR HITZ” to be good again. They never did in the past. And whether Foley likes it or not fighting is making its way out of the game in a natural progression, and the way the NHL is tripping over its own dick in this concussion lawsuit you might see that accelerated soon.
The whole air of the broadcast makes it feel like it’s a waste of his, and in turn our, time. And Adam Burish threatening to punch Brandon Saad in practice isn’t helping (hey Adam, whatever happened to that time you said you’d fight Chris Pronger? You’re still living, so you must’ve found a way out of that one). Yes, the Hawks make a lot of turnovers and mistakes and don’t get saves they need. That’s the hallmark of a bad team.
But being a professional means you’re supposed to cover this game in the same fashion you covered Game 5 against St. Louis in ’14. That’s the job. If you need inspiration, look no farther than your friend Len Kasper. Kasper called five years of utterly dogshit Cubs baseball between ’10-’14, not to mention the pretty terrible 2006 as well. And that’s every goddamn day, not just two or three times a week. And Kasper’s calls don’t sound any different from those to today when the Cubs are one of baseball’s leading lights.
We don’t need another Hawk Harrelson, as we’re on the verge of gloriously getting rid of the one we already do have. Listen to Jason Bennetti who has only had really bad Sox teams to comment on, and tell me he isn’t doing a marvelous job.
We’ve been down this road before, of course. Foley was a leading voice as the Hawks became irrelevant due to simple indifference and incompetence. He wasn’t hesitant to point out the problems. It got him fired. But that was under an ownership group that didn’t care and wasn’t trying. The Hawks didn’t foist this on us on purpose. A lot of things went wrong. And while I’ve said a lot about the Hawks’ organization, I would never accuse them of not caring what the product is on the ice. This is not the Old Man’s Era and shouldn’t be treated as such.
Sure, it’s deflating to have nine years of covering good teams with games that mattered to a team running out the clock for three months. It’s frustrating to see the same mistakes over and over. It’s probably hard to not have a close friend in the booth with you most nights due to health troubles and have the blank gape of Steve Konroyd. But that’s the job. That’s why they pay you.
Let us lament what’s gone with this team in our spare time. Hey, I don’t want to be in Buffalo on a Saturday afternoon watching two bad team scrap at shit like the rhino pen at feeding time. But I’m not being paid to present it like I should be. All we ask is that you sound like you want to be there. That would seem to be the minimum requirement of a broadcast job.