When putting together a commentary team for a sports broadcast, the biggest factor should obviously be whether or not the main people calling the action can accurately depict what’s happening while also being entertaining to the viewers.
A big part of that team is the chemistry between the play-by-play broadcasters and color analysts. If there is no chemistry between the two, then the broadcasts can become disoriented and unbearable. Another big part of a successful broadcast is whether or not the color commentators can — objectively — give an accurate analysis of the action without coming off too one-sided.
Yes, these are employees of the team so a bias is to be expected, but there is a difference between being bias and being oblivious to what is really going on. This was a tough list to make because there are many who are so new that the jury is still out as well as those who are just so close to their peers. But, without anymore delay, here are the rankings.
*Note: This ranking only includes TV analysts that work games for individual teams. That means no Mike Milbury, though we all know where he’d rank on this list.*
30. Brian Hayward – Anaheim Ducks
What does Brian Hayward add to a broadcast? Seriously, can you answer that? He just seems like he’d rather yell over John Ahlers about whatever is on his mind rather than give an actual contribution to the broadcast.
29. Bob Errey – Pittsburgh Penguins
When you’re partnered with the worst play-by-play man in the game, it’s no surprise that you’d find yourself bear the bottom of this list. Errey has a tendency to, rather than correct Paul Steigerwald, agree with him and continue with whatever false narrative is being portrayed. It’s downright brutal to listen to.
28. Greg Millen – Toronto Maple Leafs
Yikes…Greg Millen is the best an organization like Toronto can do? He makes nearly any Leafs broadcast unwatchable. He can’t tell you how or why a play developed now can he say what somebody did right or wrong on a given play. It’s just brutal.
27.Peter McNab – Colorado Avalanche
Just like his broadcast partner, Peter McNab’s biggest downfall is that he never seems fully prepared for any game. Ask him to name five players from an opposing team, and he’ll struggle to give you two. It just comes off as unprofessional, leading to a low ranking here.
26. John Garrett – Vancouver Canucks
Yes, John Garrett is on the Canucks’ payroll, but that doesn’t mean to act like the players on the roster are the second coming of some great prophet. The way he gives “analysis” sounds more like a family member praising a young kid than a professional commentator.
25. Mike Greenlay – Minnesota Wild
Mike Greenlay — like others you’ll see on this list – is a company man. He’d rather give false analysis than ever criticize what the Wild are doing. It’s quite sad actually, because of all the analysts guilty of this, he’s one of the worst.
24. Eddie Olczyk – Chicago Blackhawks
Eddie Olczyk isn’t a bad analyst by any means. In fact, when he’s doing a national game that doesn’t involve the Blackhawks, he’s quite good. However, the way he is when calling Chicago games clearly shows his love for the team. I’ve caught him keeping quiet when time comes to scrutinize the team while droning on whenever anyone does anything well.
23. Andy Brickley – Boston Bruins
If he wasn’t paired with Jack Edwards, Andy Brickley would be much higher on this list. He provides a really good breakdown of plays even with Edwards yelling and whining over everything he does. Unfortunately, he gets brought down in this list because he doesn’t contribute nearly as much as he should. Seriously, he deserves more mic time. Give it to him.
22. Butch Goring – New York Islanders
Like Howie Rose, Butch Goring is an analyst that seems to want to talk about anything else other than the game going on in front of him. Maybe it’s because the Islanders were so bad for so long, but the team is better so you’d think his work would as well.
21. Craig Laughlin – Washington Capitals
Craig Laughlin isn’t terrible. When he’s good, he’s good. Unfortunately, he just seems to go on weird tangents far too often to ever have any sort of consistency with his work. Plus, he likes to yell way too much. You have a mic at your mouth, you can whisper and viewers will still be able to hear you.
20. Shane Hnidy – Winnipeg Jets
Losing Brian Engblom – more on him later – was a big blow to the Jets broadcast. Nothing against him personally, but I feel Shane Hnidy is just a filler until the team can find a more permanent replacement. His analysis is just too run-of-the-mill, and doesn’t really add anything to the broadcast. That said, it could be a lot worse.
19. Mickey Redmond – Detroit Red Wings
The love for Mickey Redmond is mind boggling for me. Sure, he’s not in the bottom five analysts today, but the way some portray him make it seem like he’s one of the best of all time. Redmond’s analysis is more like the guy at work who only saw five minutes of a game, but thinks he can explain why everything happened the way it did. It’s funny to some, but really annoying to many more. Also, he likes to have conversations about the worst topics.
18. Jamie Baker – San Jose Sharks
Jamie Baker is a guy that has a spot outside the bottom 10 because of who he’s working with. There just hasn’t been enough time, I feel, to warrant anything higher nor has he been so bad at his post that he’s one of the worst in the league. He’s just…there right now.
17. Stu Grimson – Nashville Predators
Stu Grimson is only in his second season as the Predators TV analyst, but he’s shown progress from where he started last season to where he is now. He’s not overly analytic in the way of explaining how plays happen, but he’s one who definitely doesn’t hesitate to let you know what went wrong during certain plays. He has a high ceiling, in my opinion.
16. Rob Ray – Buffalo Sabres
Rob Ray has his moments, but every time he takes a step forward behind the mic he seems to take two or three more back. He’s one of the only people on this list that would consistently mispronounce the name of a player on his own time – Mike Grigor-INKO. The banter between he and Rick Jeanneret and Dan Dunleavy is funny at times, providing some entertainment between plays. But his analysis could use some work.
15. Kelly Hrudey – Calgary Flames
Not much to say about Kelly Hrudy, I don’t notice him too much on either side of the spectrum, which can only place him in the middle of the pack.
14. Jody Shelley – Columbus Blue Jackets
The recent addition of Jody Shelley to the Columbus broadcast team has been surprisingly successful. I like what Shelley brings to the table in terms of how he works with Jeff Rimer. They had instant chemistry together, and I only expect it to go up. His analysis could be better rather than the generic “he found the open ice” style of commentary, but that should come with time.
13. Drew Remenda – Edmonton Oilers
The former San Jose Sharks analyst is in a nice spot with the Oilers. He has a nice grasp of the game, and has the ability to keep Kevin Quinn, for the most part, in check with his non-objectivity. Only big harp on Remenda, which he has gotten much better at over the years, is his ability to move on from a subject. He likes to go back to the well one too many times on a topic, which can annoy the viewer.
12. Ken Daneyko – New Jersey Devils
Hate me all you want Devils fans, but Chico Resch was downright brutal. Ken Daneyko is a breath of fresh air in the booth, and makes New Jersey Broadcast’s actually watchable. He’s better at breaking down defensive players than offensive – for obvious reasons – but I feel he’ll get better as he gets more time to hone the craft.
11. Ray Ferraro – Ottawa Senators
Ray Ferraro does a lot of national games which gives him a look at different players in the league more often than the standard team analyst. Like Gord Miller, he appears on Ottawa broadcasts for more often, and he has a good head on him when it comes to braking down what the Senators are doing on the ice. He could afford to tell fewer stories, but that’s being nitpicky.
10. Denis Potvin – Florida Panthers
One of my biggest gripes over the years with Denis Potvin was the fact that he seemed more interested in letting you know how great he was which led to missing obvious things to breakdown during a game. I’m happy to say that he’s cleaned that up quite a bit. Working with Steve Goldstein has made Potvin a better analyst simply for how Goldstein sets him up to give information. It’s really a nice match.
9. Keith Jones – Philadelphia Flyers
Each year, Keith Jones has gotten better as an analyst. He still falls back to the “all players should be physical” narrative from time to time, but it’s become far less frequent than in the past. Plus, what scores a lot of brownie points with me is the fact that even though he appears on both local and national broadcasts, Jones isn’t afraid to speak his mind. Even if it does have the potential to sometimes get him in trouble.
8. Jason York – Montreal Canadiens
As with the play-by-play rankings, I only focused on the English broadcast for Montreal. I don’t speak/understand French, and I’d feel wrong if I was ranking a broadcast that I couldn’t understand. Ok, moving on. Jason York has an eye for the game, and helps make fans aware of the little things going on throughout the ice, even if the camera isn’t focused on it. His chemistry with John Bartlett gets better with every passing game, and you could see that pair move into the top five sooner rather than later.
7. Joe Micheletti – New York Rangers
In another opinion that is sure to make some fans angry, I full believe that it’s Joe Micheletti that makes the Rangers’ broadcasts look and sound good. Micheletti is great at bringing points up and then keeping an eye on the play to hammer home said points. He rarely says something outrageous, and I can’t remember a mistake he’s made when breaking down a play.
6. Darren Pang – St. Louis Blues
Where Darren Pang excels is when it comes to breaking down goaltending play on a broadcast. After all, being a former goaltender should give him that advantage. Plus, he’s one of the more knowledgeable analysts out there when it comes to the sport itself. Only gripe is that he lets his fanhood show a little too often when talking about a great play, no matter the team.
5. Brian Engblom – Tampa Bay Lightning
Brian Engblom was the poach of the year in terms of analyst hires. He breaks down plays during a game in ways that others can’t, and he makes them sound entertaining. Engblom thrives when calling fast-paced games. With the Lightning, Engblom is in a perfect situation to showcase his on-the-fly analysis, making sure fans know what’s going on the minute it happens.
4. Jim Fox – Los Angeles Kings
Not shy to criticize, Jim Fox is an analyst that isn’t afraid to say whatever he thinks about the play on the ice. He doesn’t talk too much, but when he does say something, it adds to the broadcast in major ways no matter how little he says. I just can’t find anything to complain about with him.
3. Tyson Nash – Arizona Coyotes
This may come as a shock, but I really think the Coyotes have one of the best broadcasts in the game. Tyson Nash is a prime example of a former player who crosses over to the booth and just gets it. He has a deep knowledge of the sport which is perfect for a market with casual fans like Arizona. He’ll help viewers understand what is going on without getting to confusing with terminology. If you haven’t listen to him, go watch a Coyotes broadcast.
2. Tripp Tracy – Carolina Hurricanes
The top two spots are a toss up, but what keeps Tripp Tracy out of the top spot is his inability to ever find fault in a goaltender. Cam Ward could let in six goals on four shots – impossible, but work with me here – and Tracy would blame poor defense and the crowd before blaming Ward. However, he makes up for it in a big way with his unrivaled breakdown of the aforementioned goaltending and defensive play. You’d be hardpressed to find anyone in the game analyst position to break down a position as well as Tracy.
1. Daryl Reaugh – Dallas Stars
As I said, it was a toss up for the top spot. But there was just no way I could keep Daryl Reaugh out of here. Reaugh is as knowledgeable as he is entertaining. From his unique descriptions of a play to his tendency to criticize anyone and everyone that deserves it, you just can’t find someone better than Reaugh.
Thank you for reading. This is where I step away from my day job, and talk about something near and dear to me. Extra Life 4 Kids is an organization that helps raise money for sick and injured children through the power of games. From video games to board games, people across North America join together to raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospital of their choice. I have taken a part in this great venture, and it’s one of the more gratifying things I’ve ever done. I’m reaching out for your help.
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Michael is a former Managing Editor for The Hockey Writers. He’s covered the Buffalo Sabres, along with the NHL in general, for various outlets since 2009. His work has been featured on outlets such as Yahoo, Sports Illustrated and Fox Sports.