In the aftermath of the NHL Awards show from Las Vegas, I’d like to say this. The show stunk. It was one of the most amateurish, rough, and thrown-together events in recent memory. Replace the producer and get a real one for next year.
There was lack of polish from any of the so-called hosts. Michael Buble was almost good, but almost isn’t good enough. He was without character, without presence, which is surprising considering he makes a living as an entertainer. Jeremy Roenick, who prides himself on being a bit of a ham, couldn’t read the lines, wasn’t funny, and should never be asked to do this again. In fact, the guy who could’ve done a better job than Roenick was Boston goalie Tim Thomas, who was engaging, well-spoken, at times emotional, and at times really funny. Like when he was thanking everyone and asked teammate Manny Fernandez, who was standing beside him, if he should thank Fernandez’s wife too. Or when he was awarded the Vezina, he said winning the trophy was unbelievable because he’d always spent his time just worrying about making a roster.
Most acceptance speeches were read without emotion, like they were just happy to get through it and be done with it, although to the players’ credit, they’re not actors at the Oscars, who deliver lines smoothly. But most speeches were awkward. CBC’s Ron McLean, usually a stalwart of the show, yet certainly not perfect, was missing. Don Cherry would’ve brought a smile. In fact, I have a pet rock that would’ve brought more of a smile than most of what we got on this night.
The show was heralded for months as a Las Vegas spectacle, which it wasn’t at all. There were brief moments of the city and Strip, but other than those, it could’ve been Orillia or Moncton. There should have been times slotted showing players around the city, taking in the sights and smells. We could’ve seen players losing their shirts at the tables. Or a quick visit to Hooters. Or looking to buy tickets for Cher at Caesar’s Palace. We should’ve got much more from this Vegas show in terms of the city and the players coming together.
The show needs to be revamped. There should be more personal revelations about the players shown to the fans. Tell us and show us more about Pavel Datsyuk away from the rink, for example. Maybe formal speeches by hockey players should be re-examimed. Most players are far from eloquent behind a microphone the way Jean Beliveau is. Or add a translater on stage for those with language problems and the player could chatter away in his own tongue.
With all the millions of dollars that float around the NHL, surely the entertainment could be first rate. Chaka Khan and Robin Thicke just didn’t get the job done. They were quite, well, ordinary. When they were on, it was time to go to the kitchen and make some toast. The league needs to fork out some serious dollars and get some world-class entertainers for what’s supposed to be a world-class awards show . Book them now for next year. Open your wallets, you cheap bastards. Grab some attention grabbers like Elton John or Bruce Springsteen or Green Day or a myriad of others who might be available with a year’s notice and a nice mix for young and old. Chaka Khan and Thicke? C’mon people. Who books these acts? These two should’ve been singing down in the Palm’s lounge for bus groups from Miami. Not in front of Mr. and Mrs. Beliveau and company.
Let’s face it, this night was embarrassing. And, when I look back, most of the shows have been pretty bad. But this was the worst. It couldn’t been great, with Las Vegas as the setting. But it wasn’t. Not by a long slapshot. The NHL took a puck in the teeth with this one.