VERSUS Still Doesn’t Get It

VERSUS Still Doesn’t Get It!

By Gary Norris Gray, Staff Reporter





OAKLAND, CA (BASN/BASN NEWSROOM): Versus Television Network, formerly known as the Outdoor Life Network (OLN), emerged from the Outdoor Life magazine. OLN was launched in 1993 and became a major network with the contract of the National Hockey League in 2005. Since then, very little has changed.

The Canadian-based network resided in Toronto, Canada but the American OLN-Versus Network moved its headquarters to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

In 2009, American hockey fans were forced to watch the entire Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins Stanley Cup Playoff series. Versus could still be called the Flyers-Penguins network because they continue this trend in broadcasting NHL games.

The Penguins beat the Flyers in Game Six on the National Broadcasting Network’s (NBC) weekend hockey show to win the series, four games to two.

The National Hockey League still does not promote its product properly since the season-ending strike in 2004 when the league owners locked out its players.

Could the National Football League (NFL) be following suit with their lockout this year? They have an extensive television contract with four different networks and the NFL promotes its product.

Now NBC and The Versus Network cross – promote hockey.

The NHL had a contract with ESPN before the season-ending strike in 2004-05. When the strike ended, ESPN retracted and ended its contract and has not broadcast an NHL game in 6 years. In large part filling their programming slate with more gambling, Texas Hold ‘Em (through the “Poker After Dark” airings). Talk about hypocrisy — This is it!

All of the leagues NHL, NBA, MLB, NFL, do not want their players to be involved in gambling yet the network that broadcast their games are promoting poker almost every night.

ESPN’s SportsCenter now gives courteous and minimal notice of important games with Barry Melrose and Matthew Barnaby. The scope of their hockey ‘segments’ last less than two minutes most times.

By contrast, in Canada during hockey season, The Sports Network (TSN) gives a comprehensive look at hockey in Canada and the U.S., making sure the entire hockey turf and all the burgeoning interests in those areas are explored.

TSN’s Canadian team telecast has proven to be far superior in their scope of what is happening on ice as well as giving lay fans insight that doesn’t insult but rather invites further interest in the game.

The League had acquired many new fans and viewers through the ESPN telecast. They had created a new culture of hockey fans but all of this was lost with these machinations.

The broadcasting antics of Versus is making it worse. The NHL is having another exceptional season of overall performances and great conference races but unfortunately with poor promotion by Commissioner Gary Bettman has caused ratings to continue to slide.

Versus is a very small cable network and many American and Canadians do not have this network on their cable systems. Under the ESPN banner, the average hockey fan knew they could view various teams from the different divisions.

This is not the case when Versus became the hockey network six years ago. Buffalo, Philadelphia, Washington, Pittsburgh, New York, and Detroit have dominated their broadcasts with the assistance of NBC Sports.

This next week is no exception with Pittsburgh and Detroit on twice and the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals on once each with only other western conference team on the Versus airwaves are the Vancouver Canucks.

There is now a new kid on the broadcasting block called Comcast. In every city in the United States, fans can get their sports on with sportscasters they know. The local Comcast Sports Network with their local sports announcers view games from the home fans point of view.


Now Versus is working harder to be a better hockey network because the intelligent hockey fan will not tolerate the sloppy east coast bias broadcasting of two years ago. It is still a work in progress because they (Versus) are still leaning on the Northeast corridor teams for the majority of their broadcasts.

Versus is still a promotional machine for Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby, who’s currently out with a concussion. Crosby skated for the first time this week.

And Alex Ovechkin with the Washington Capitals had a very difficult start. The Capitols are currently in 2nd place in the Eastern Conference Race. These are the new young faces of the NHL. This Network continues to ignore other NHL stars in the League. If this continues they will lose true hockey viewers/fans.

What about the story of the New Jersey Devils with their old coaches Jacques Lemaire and Larry Robinson returning? This team came from dead last place to contend for a spot in the playoffs.

The last place Devils are only 8 points out of a playoff position. New Jersey’s outstanding 23-4-2 record since January is unbelievable. The Devils are one game above the 500 level at 33-32-4 after a 10-24-2 start.

Versus did not get this right either with this weeks’ big Atlanta Thrasher- New Jersey Devils match with both teams fighting for that 8th and final playoff spot. The Devils exploded for three goals in the 2nd period in another 4-2 victory over Atlanta. America did not see it.

What about the story of the 27 Goal Brothers (Black Players) Jamal Mayers in San Jose, Jarome Iginla in Calgary, Fraser and Salvadore in New Jersey, Simmonds in Los Ang., Ward in Nashville, Subban in Montreal, Okposo with the New York Islanders, and Daley in Dallas, the highest number in NHL history?

What about the story of the Atlanta Thrashers playing with 6 of those Goal Brothers and one of the best defensemen, in the NHL Dustin Byfuglien, along with Evander Kane, Anthony Stewart and Johnny Oduya? What about the story of two Black players being elected captain for their team’s one being a constant All-Star. Captain Jerome Iginla of the Calgary Flames scored his 30th goal for the 10th year in a row – on a penalty shot, no less!

Less we must mention the female Wayne Gretzky, Goal Sister, Angela James, the first Black female into the Hockey Hall of Fame which The Versus Television Network has overlooked.

Last the never ending and exciting story of the Western Conference Race with 10 teams competing for 6 spots in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with only 11 points separating them.

This should be on Versus’ Hockey Night radar but …

Author’s Note: We at BASN & The Batchelor Pad all send our hearts, hopes, and prayers to the residents of Northern Japan in their time of crises. The triple tragedies will make everybody around the world think.

Now it has been a week and no riots, no looting, no cutting in line, in fact, one store the lights went out and the people returned the items they had in their hands back on the shelves because the computer regulated casregistersrs would not work.

The Japanese people and their culture taught them to behave in this manner. Japan has the culture of respect toward each other and their families.

Now think would this happen in the United States after a triple disaster?


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