Sunday, May 13, 2012

First Class? Not in the Wild's TV Booth

Hiring of LaPanta as Wild PBP man sign of organizational downgrading ?

The news shot like a missle thru the armoury on Saturday afternoon.

The Minnesota Wild let slip that they were about to hire Anthony LaPanta as their TV Play-by-Play man, replacing Dan Terhaar, who had been dismissed last month, following seven years' service to the NHL team.

Reaction from Wild fans was swift, and scathing. And, sadly, very close to the mark.

With the Twitter hashtag of, #wedeservebetter , the fans let the team have it for what is believed to be a mostly money decision, as the swirl of controversy rages on in cyberspace, as the Mother's Day weekend takes time away from the point of the exercise:

1. Anthony LaPanta is definitely NOT the best choice for the Wild's new TV play-by-play man.

2. The Wild either failed to do a national search, or were advised not to by ownership, for financial reasons.

3. The Wild need to go back and do their homework, as the fans are speaking out -- LOUDLY -- against this hire. The TV on-air duo is the fans' primary exposure to the Wild organization as a whole, especially when the team is away from the Xcel Energy Center. The fact that such a substandard talent has been allowed to advance to this level, is another result of the general downgrading of the organization as a whole, since the ownership change from Bob Naegele to Craig Leipold.

Everything the Wild do should -- SHOULD -- be done to maximize resources. Fans in Minnesota have been able to tell when their sports teams pull out the 'retrenchment' card. (See 'Baseball, Twins', and 'Basketball, Timberwolves'). The fact that this is being done in the midst of the Stanley Cup Playoffs -- when most hockey fans have other things on their minds than Wild hockey, no thanks to four losing seasons in a row by the local six -- and six weeks before the team's summer caravan means that even they are not enthralled by the selection.

And I am not, either. I'm not an expert in this kind of thing (broadcasting), although I was interested in it as a teen-ager. But I know a 'homer' when I hear one, and LaPanta is a homer. Behind the play. Malaprops. Whining about penalties too often.

Please. Both sides. Re-think this decision. This Wild franchise has worked so hard to rebuild the on-ice product; and, hopefully, this fall will be the start of the new age for the franchise. In today's sports world, where image is everything, to have the face of that image on TV be a second-rate announcer, who bumbles and stumbles thru game after game like 'Little Boy Lost', who whines about every single call made against you, whose 'homerism' permeates every single telecast, you have to ask: Is THIS the image you want to give to the public?

Please. Minnesota Wild and Fox Sports North. Just say 'NO' to LaPanta.

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