Sunday, June 01, 2008

Season in Review: Entertainment

It's impossible to go to a hockey game at any level these days and not find yourself bombarded with music, strange sounds, flashing lights, stupid audience participation games and feeble attempts at getting the crowd to cheer. It is, as some have mentioned in the past, the death of the pure hockey experience. The mantra of NHL arenas these days seems to be "keep them stimulated at all times", and the Verizon Center is no exception.

So as long as we're going to be subjected to a constant attack on the senses, it's only fair that it gets critiqued along with the rest of the team. After all, the video screen has become just as much a part of the hockey experience as the stuff on the ice.

In other words...what were the best and worst in-game features this season?

Original opening video - The Caps have a long history of producing great opening videos that get the crowd pumped up, that showcase great creativity and spotlight the talent. So it was surprising to see this unveiled at the start of the season, a video with good intentions but miscues all over the place. Watching the boys get dressed and then "play" on what is clearly the practice rink? Not thrilling. Not exciting. And not good enough.

Announcer Challenge - A clip of a past game is shown and two competitors are then asked to provide their own calls. The winner is decided by the crowd. Sounds like fun, right? Wrong. It only took one round to remind us that what Joe B. does every night is not as easy as it looks, something I'm sure most of us already knew. Please let this one die.

Tattoo Commercial - This one surfaced at the beginning of the season and thankfully died soon after, but you have to wonder what the thought process was behind it. Sure, sex sells, but come on. Nothing about this was sexy - the woman, the idea, the tattoo that looked like one of those temporary tattoos you see on little kids, nothing. Just horrible.

Ovechkin's Garage - I'm all for videos that show us the players away from the rink. I love seeing where they live and what they do in their spare time, its fun. It makes them seem like real (albeit much wealthier) people. But this was just a big ol' commercial for a garage makeover company, a five minute plug that showed us nothing but the least exciting part of Ovechkin's house. Frankly after the first viewing I never needed to see it again - sorry, Ovie.

Cribs with Brooks Laich and Mike Green - Ladies and gentlemen, the Abbott & Costello of the Washington Capitals. These two guys are hilarious together and so what better way to showcase that then to have each one commenting on the other's house? There's just great stuff in both episodes, from Laich's giggling over "Gary the Bear" to Green planting Hockey for Dummies and chick flicks around Laich's apartment to the duo's ill-advised musical exploits. Instant classics.

Opening video (midseason) - About halfway through the season the original opening video was mercifully scrapped and replaced with this adrenalin-pumping, heart-pounding rocker set to the fantastic Foo Fighters song "The Pretender". It took the best parts of the first attempt - Ovechkin and Semin's fist pound, Olie's mystical breath, etc. - and mixed them together with new footage and highlights. The montage now included great goals, hits and fights from everyone on the team, showcasing emerging stars like Backstrom and Green along with the usual suspects while giving just about everyone on the team face time.

Caps on Segways - It's always fun to see the guys out and about in DC; Caps Up-Close videos are among my favorites for just that reason. Ovechkin being goofy behind Matt Bradley is hilarious. Backstrom talking about how fun segways are is adorable. Seeing Mike Green wipe out in the slowest segway-meets-cement planter collision ever, and then seeing his teammates mocking him after? Priceless.

Year in Review - This video only appeared once, obviously, airing at the end of the final game of the season against the Panthers. Had the Caps not been headed to the playoffs, it would still have been great; but on the heels of a division-clinching win the video took on a poignancy and a magical quality that made it that much better. And no one was left out, from Schultz's and Laing's 1st NHL goals to Ovechkin's 60th of the season to Olie's 300th career win. Great music ("Believe" by the Bravery), great editing, great footage - perfect for capping off a great season.


Jimmy Jazz said...

1) I've never been overly impressed with the "in game entertainment" at the VC, but this year was unforgivable.
2) The game should speak for itself. I'd rather see replays on controversial calls (notice how that never happens) than see the three card shuffle thing, parents manipulating their kid's hands to the Y-M-C-A, or old people licking each other.
3) The music needs a complete overhaul. Fallout Boy? Good Charlotte? This isn't a goddamn middle school cafeteria. Now, I understand that taste accounts for very little when trying to appease the masses, but come on.
4) The things that should dominate the HD screen are:
A) Hit reels -- not just from the Caps, but from every team.
B) Goal reels -- not necessarily from evey team, but at least from non-rival teams.
C) Save reels. We've had Olie for more than a decade, and he's had some beauties. We'll have (hopefully, I'm not trying to jinx) Cristowall in the coming years.
D) Fight reels. It's part of the game, and it always will be. Hunter, Simon, and Brash... They've had some incredible bouts while wearing Caps sweaters.
E) Vintage reels. Bonzai, Hunter, Witter, Langway, Stevens, Gartner, Simon, Maruk, Gustafson... Some of the older guys will be harder to find, but this team has had some truly great skaters.

EVERY important play, fight, call, and hit should see time in instant replay. We have enough fans that we shouldn't have to be wary of insulting visiting or casual fans.

Anonymous said...

This was fantastic. And I laughed my ass off remembering the videos (some of them anyway) all over again.

I miss hockey.

Jed said...

Great post, I agree with most of it! Maybe I'm just a guy but, I never quite got the problem with the tattoo commercial. Sure, it isn't the classiest thing, but it is a far cry from the worst commercial on tv. And, by the way, I was definitely seeing that during games through the end of the season...

Jimmy - If you want to see controversial calls, you're going to have to take it up with the league. I keep hearing people complain about the caps not running replays on "controversial" calls, if they do show them, they risk getting fined by the league, so it's safer to just not show them.

Kim said...

I love any video that has to do with Mike Green and Brooks Laich. Although I must say that Mike Green's apartment is a little fancy for a bachelor pad.

I agree that the Foo Fighters opener was better than what they started with. I have been trying to get the one from the previous season. They were all dressed in suits and walking out of an elevator to a Rob Zombie song. Thought it would be fun to see who was still here, who had left, etc.

CapsChick said...

JJ: I agree completely, more of the videos should include highlight packages. They did it more last year but even then it was the same reels over and over again. I'd much prefer that to that stupid 3 card shuffle or the Kiss Cam, myself.

capshockeygrl: This was your influence, you know! All your fault - glad you liked it ;)

Jed: I think what bothered me more about the tattoo one (and actually the others that emerged, the guys' night out and girls' night out ones as well) was that it looked so cheap. I might just have been spoiled by the "Always Intense" campaign we were treated to years ago but these were just bad.

Kim: I loved last year's video and managed to unearth it from YouTube - watch it here. I didn't realize how many of them were gone but Petty, Clymer, Olie, Sutherby and Zubie are all in there. Sad :(

Anonymous said...

Can't get enough of the caps? I know I can't... Comcast is showing a review of the season in "Season to Remember" starting June 9th. Check it out... and remember the season is only a few months away.

Shelby said...

I completely agree! I especially second the kudos for the Greenie/Laich Cribs and the Segway tour. I love being able to see the boys off the ice -- ya know, actually see their faces -- and it's a fun insight into personalities. Plus, I love Brooksie and Greener more than I already did.

luke said...

maybe its just me...but after ten years (or however long theyve done it) and 41 games a year


particularly when we are losing...

Kim said...

Thanks for finding the video. Have been looking for that one. My daughter will love watching it again. Zubie was one of her favorite players. It is sad how many of them have gone.

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