As anyone who watched the NHL studio show last season painfully understands, that guy never showed up in front of cameras. Hull came off as stiff, forced, bored and ignited about as much controversy as a wet matchbook. As my FanHouse buddy J.P. explained when it appeared Hull would not be back: "At the end of the day, NBC and the League are probably better off without him."
NBC has now scrapped the studio show from Rockefeller Plaza, and with it Bill Clement as a host. (Too bad ... he had a certain Ernie Johnson/dorky uncle vibe that would work well with the right analysts.) The show will now be presented live from the "Game of the Week" sites, which hopefully means NBC will occasionally bring the action outside the arena so the hosts have to shout over several hundred knuckleheads chanting "Let's Go Fly-ers!" (Then again, I once saw Bettman get hit in the melon with a beach ball inside the arena, so either location will do.)
Attempting to reach a level of insight and entertainment that were clearly out of Hull's grasp will be Pierre McGuire, NBC's Inside the Glass analyst, who will be the studio host; and former NY Islanders emperor "Mad" Mike Milbury as a studio analyst. Milbury's always been a candid guy (and a card-carrying Ranger hater), and if this interview with Newsday is any preview, the former ESPN analyst could have the right amount of cynicism for the job:
"The first thing is, you only have to work 25 days out of the year," he said yesterday. "It's kind of like stealing money."I imagine McGuire will be more of an analyst than a moderator, which is great for a studio show facing the time constraints this one does. The interesting aspect of this pairing with Milbury is that McGuire used to rip the stuffings out of the Islanders at every turn; NYI PR machine Chris "It's my blog in a box!" Botta has referred to him as "Islanders fan club president Pierre McGuire."
Maybe it's just the change of pace for a guy who at 55 is coming off a 12-year stint with the Islanders that covered four sets of owners, nine years as GM, three terms as coach and controversial trades. "I managed to survive that long against long odds," he said. "It was an interesting time on Long Island." Of the ownership turmoil, he cracked, "We were leading the league in convicted felons."
I think this is a positive change for NBC, with good potential...but if you'll excuse me, I have to send this quick text message to Jeremy Roenick: "RETIRE ALRDY 4 TV!!!"