Sunday, January 24, 2010

I Love Drew Remenda (and other things)

Since we talked about the Ducks and Kings broadcasts, I want to take a quick moment to rave about the Sharks broadcast. It was very, very good. Randy Hahn and Drew Remenda has both clearly did their homework on their Sabres. While they hit a lot of the same notes as the previous California broadcasts - the Sabres are fast, Lindy Ruff has been around forever, Tyler Myers is really good (and tall!) - they went into much more detail. The other Western Conference teams have mentioned what a fast, run-and-gun team the Sabres are and while the speed is still there, run-and-gun hasn't really fit for a few years, certainly not this season. The Sharks team really went into how the Sabres are playing more of a team concept this year, five man units playing together as one, etc. I was also impressed with the amount of play-by-play - the color never interfered with calling the actual game - and the amount of X's and O's they got in. We get a little of that on MSG with Mike Robitaille during the intermissions, but that's one area where I think our broadcasts have really taken a hit since Jim Lorenz retired. I also appreciated Hahn and Remenda acknowledging that the Buffalo viewing audience was tuned into their broadcast - I think they were the only ones to do so - and I loved, loved, loved them doing it via a really bad but totally fun impression of Rick Jeanneret's Population of Pominville call. The Sharks broadcast was fun, informative, and entertaining. Can't ask for much more than that. Four of my shiniest gold stars to them.

Too bad I can't say the same for the Sabres, Steve Montador. After the first period went so well I was pretty bummed the game fell apart. I was really hoping to get at least ten points on this road trip. Of course, I was counting on getting four points out of Atlanta and the Islanders. Only getting two there really hurt. Hopefully we'll fare better against the really super hot right now Canucks? Maybe?

And now for something completely different...

Among the many things that has bothered me over the recent years about The Buffalo News, one of the biggest has been how the writers have taken every opportunity to trash the Sabres video scouting without really giving us much information about how it all works. I once emailed Mike Harrington to whine and complain politely inquire about this and he said it's a story they've attempted to write but the Sabres are pretty tight-lipped about their process, considering it proprietary information. Which I can understand. If you're competing with thirty other teams and you think you're doing something that works that no one else is doing, you probably should keep a lid on it. (What doesn't make sense is TBN continuing to dog something they don't really understand but hey, what else is new?)

Yesterday Mirtle tweeted a link to a Globe and Mail story about scouting and there are just a few small details in there about the Sabres process but enough that it really changed my opinion. For all my complaints about TBN's coverage/attitude toward the story, there was enough skepticism from enough different places that I did wonder about the validity of their system. I kind of got the impression that video scouting consisted of a bunch of scouts watching game tapes, like us sitting at home watching games on TV. That did seem questionable. So much of hockey is played without the puck, especially on defense, and you've probably noticed that game broadcasts center around the guy with the puck. There's so much you would miss scouting that way.

According to the Globe and Mail article, however, a scout with training in video goes and watches the player being scouted and brings the video back for others on the scouting team to watch. A few months ago I read a book called Future Greats and Heartbreaks: A Year Undercover in the Secret World of NHL Scouts (just as an aside, I thought it was a really fun, interesting read). In the book the author talked about how all the scouts from a franchise come together at the draft and they all bring their own biases with them. Some have a bias against Europeans. Some don't like small players. Some love small, speedy guys. Some prefer big bruisers. The player the Sabres are interested in is still getting scouted the traditional way - in person by a living, breathing human being - but that human being is bringing back tangible evidence that others can look at, thereby getting around the problem of one guy's biases and quirks playing such a huge part. I don't know, to me that seems... smart. As Kate said when we were discussing this (before it devolved into utter silliness, as things sometimes tend to do with us), it seems less like newfangled ideas and more like common sense.

We're probably just about getting to the point where we can start judging how the changes in the scouting department have worked, but Tyler Myers seems like a pretty good start, you know? Heh.


Katebits said...

Oooh, nice jab at TBN Heather.

I agree with ALL of this, especially the part about how Steve Montador is ruining everything. :D

Shelby Rose said...

I really like the different approach the Sabres use to scouting players. It seems to have worked quite nicely for them, even if no other organization will buy it just yet.

As a frequent watcher of Vancouver, their broadcast is pretty good every night. Tomorrow will be just fine (unlike the Ducks broadcasters, who I thought were pretty awful).

ToonTom said...

Drew Remenda grew up about three blocks from. He lives here in Saskatoon and, when his schedule permits, he does a daily sports call-in show. You can out more about it at

Vanek's Hair said...

I enjoyed the San Jose broadcasters call of the game too. Though the RJ impression certainly needed work, I really appreciated the effort. It was hilarious.

Montador was bad Saturday, but I really like what he has done this season, so he gets a pass. Plus, he has the best hair on the team