Thursday, August 2, 2012

Quick thoughts on "Before The Battle"

As I've mentioned over at the Dark Blue Jacket Plus at Fox Sports Ohio, I'm a big fan of behind the scenes/"documentary" shows related to the issues I care about - and the sports teams I enjoy following.  I've had fun watching HBO's 24/7 "Road to the Winter Classic" and the Canadian "Oil Change" shows, but they weren't about my team - the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Tonight, "Before the Battle" changed that.  We got some behind the scenes Blue Jackets footage, largely focused on the days leading up to the NHL entry draft.  Frustratingly, the audio in the pre-draft interviews with a pimp-a-liciously dressed Griffin Reinhart and Ryan Murray left to be desired...and that's the only spot in the show where we were privy to more than a context-absent audio clip.  (Blame the air conditioner in the hotel room, I've been told.)  That being said, Murray's interview and post-draft parade left me with the indelible impression that the kid is totally unflappable.

As for the rest of the draft coverage, I suppose my bar is probably too high but I felt that it could have told us more.  I enjoy hearing CBJ GM Scott Howson tell people on the other end of the line that he's holding his draft pick, but I'd be interested to know WHO it was that he was talking to.  I want to know which players the scouts were talking about.  I appreciate the delicate nature of putting such information in the public dialogue, but it's still worthwhile to put that out there.

Past that, we had some Rick Nash talk followed by his trade, some interviews with new Blue Jackets Foligno and Aucoin (and perhaps another?), and footage of the ex-Rangers who came to Columbus in the Nash trade.  Not to mention comments from the likes of Howson and scouting director Tyler Wright.

Perhaps the most striking thing to me about the show, however, was that the Blue Jackets allowed it to happen at all.  Rightfully or wrongfully, the team has a reputation for being extremely tight-lipped on all but the most trivial matters.  (To be fair, Scott Howson is one of the more straightforward interviews in sport.  The man appears to be honest to a fault...if he chooses to answer a question straight up.)  It is refreshing to see the curtain open - if only a little bit - and gives this fan hope that perhaps we might get more of this type of coverage going forward.  It is very, very useful in building fan faith and confidence in the people running the club.

Then there's the TV side of things.  I know that this type of quasi-documentary is growing in popularity, but it's still few and far between in the NHL.  Kudos to FOX Sports Ohio and the Blue Jackets for making it happen.  Much like broadcasting every game in high-definition, programming like this should not be taken for granted.

On a closing note, narrator Dave Maetzold told me over Twitter that "Before the Battle" is a one-off special. FOX is apparently planning to run some more standard pre-season specials as we get closer to the projected start of the NHL regular season, so look for them.  (And "Before the Battle" will get periodic airings on FSO until that point, I gather.)

All in all, a worthwhile use of a summer half-hour.  I hope to see more of this in the days ahead.

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