As this will be the last non-game related post I write of this year, it’s obviously hard to not look back and think of what a bewildering 12 months it was. From declaring the Hawks dead to watching them lift the Cup in person to questioning whether I could ever be a fan again, I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s exhausted.
But to quote that famous philosopher Gale Snoats, “I’d rather light a candle than curse your darkness.” I really don’t have a need to look back anymore, and I doubt too many of you would want to read it if I did. So I thought I might suggest something that the Hawks organization can do, that would be somewhat original and at least feign interest in making up some ground to the section of fans that are still conflicted about all that’s gone on.
There are obviously huge caveats here. One, the Hawks won’t ever see this. Two, if they did I’d bet a lot of money they couldn’t give a flying fornication about it. Three, there’s no urge for them to do so, as they’ll still sell out every game and flood this city in red jerseys (or red knockoff jerseys, which I guess they don’t cash in on but the point remains). Still, a boy can dream. Anyway, here goes:
Find a former women’s hockey Olympian, and make her an analyst on the broadcast of Hawks games.
Put her in the studio. If you really want to get adventurous, give up your beloved CBOE Between the benches seats and put her in between the glass for games. The studio at least certainly has space for someone who can do the job. I haven’t met a Hawks fan yet who has any love for Steve Konroyd. While I don’t think he’s as bad as some make out, though he’s gotten worse over the years, Hawks fans certainly wouldn’t balk if he had to give up some airtime. Jamal Mayers has a wonderful taste in scarves, but the next interesting thing he has to say will be the first. Certainly when Olczyk’s national TV commitments (or maintenance on his hair plugs) takes him away from the local broadcast, no one here is clamoring for Konroyd to keep filling in. There’s an opportunity here.
It doesn’t even have to be a retired player. The NWHL season ends in March, and someone could be brought on in an “expanded playoff coverage” type thing. Surely there’s a former or current player who’s comfortable on camera and can talk, and those two things really haven’t been required for a lot of male analysts anyway.
It won’t work obviously unless the candidate is polished. Jessica Mendoza impressed everyone when she took over for human bullhorn Curt Schilling on Sunday Night Baseball on the WWL because she was actually a plus analyst, where Schilling was basically just a fart noise echo chamber for John Kruk. It became obvious she had the chops immediately, and then it didn’t matter that she was a woman as it should be. Doris Burke has been part of ESPN’s NBA coverage for years. Hockey is simply behind, and we know how the numbers of young girls playing the sport grows all the time. So it couldn’t possibly hurt to show them, at the local level, that they can become more than an Ice Girl. Right now they have Tracey Myers’s 30-second bump in the 1st period and that’s it. So far the relationship the Hawks have had with women on their broadcast is that as soon as Susannah Collins slipped and then it was discovered she had actually had a personality before working for the Hawks, she was shitcanned. There’s ground to be made up here.
I have no illusions of anyone replacing Olczyk until he’s good and ready, but considering his promotion of the games at all levels and for both boys and girls he can certainly help that by being on board with a new colleague. Again, the Hawks have nothing to lose here. It’s not like they have a great studio show that Hawks fans love. This would be improving something, if they can find the right candidate, that needs it. It would also be something close to an original idea from an organization that claims to have them all the time but actually doesn’t. As far as I can tell, no other team in the NHL has one, though a few have female hosts for their intermission reports. This is something the Hawks can be first through the wall on.
I know in years past Cammi Granato has been mentioned, she would have the LOCAL GIRL angle, but she has basically said the schedule would be too much. It can be anyone, doesn’t even have to be American. Surely there’s a few who are up to it.
Women have been playing hockey at a high level for years now. We take it as a given. It’s time for inclusion on all levels. While the Hawks love to talk about how they have the largest female fanbase in the league (based on exactly nothing I’m sure), they’ve done basically fuck and all to serve their interests at any time. This would just about be the easiest move and would serve all.
Get on it.