By Stu Hackel
Televised hockey in 3D makes its debut in Canada this weekend when the Maple Leafs host Montreal on Saturday, and Dave Stubbs of The Montreal Gazette wrote Thursday in that paper's Habs Inside/Out blog, "It begged my question on Twitter last night, 'Do the Leafs even have 3D?' But Dion Phaneuf is back in Toronto's lineup tonight, so I guess they do."
The first 3D hockey telecast was produced last March by MSG Network featuring a Rangers-Islanders matchup. It was considered successful by some, and not so successful by others (for example, The New York Times, The New York Post and FanHouse).
But the MSG telecast was something of a surprise, owing to some available equipment, and it came together in a couple of weeks. The CBC's Hockey Night in Canada show has been in the works for a few months and certainly has the benefit of the MSG experience.
Like MSG, Hockey Night will produce two telecasts of the game, one in HD for most of the world and one in 3D for the few who have the new TV sets and those weird glasses. Hockey Night's executive producer Trevor Pilling said earlier today on CBC (video) that the main benefit of hockey televised in 3D was the enhanced picture that the viewer gets of the spacing between players. He added that the pacing of the 3D telecast will be bit slower, that there will be less cutting from camera to camera. The main shot will be wider to take in more of the action without moving because the viewer's brain requires more time to process the more complex video image.
Pilling added taht he thinks the growth curve of 3D TV will be slower than that of HD and would be accelerated if the technology improved so that viewers could watch without the glasses.
The CBC's 3D telecast will air on a separate channel (the list is here) and the NHL announced on Friday that it can also be seen in the U.S. "presented by the NHL Network," but, apparently, not on the channel that regularly shows the NHL Network. So check your local listings for availability of the 3D feed from your cable or satellite provider.
A second 3D broadcast on CBC is scheduled for Feb. 20 when the Flames host Montreal in the Heritage Classic outdoors at McMahon Stadium in Calgary.
Mario Returns: Mario Lemieux made a few comebacks during his playing career and he's lacing them up again, but this time only for a Penguins alumni game that will be played outdoors at Heinz Field on Dec. 31 in advance of The Winter Classic. The Pens alum team, which will also include Paul Coffey, Ron Francis, Bryan Trottier and new member Bill Guerin will skate against a Capitals team led by former star Peter Bondra.
“We all grew up playing on outdoor rinks, so we’re really looking forward to having this chance to skate on the Winter Classic rink at Heinz Field,” Lemieux said in a statement on the Penguins website. “There is so much history between the Penguins and Capitals and it will be good to get together and see friends on both benches.”
Invasion of the Nodiques: An estimated 1,100 Quebec hockey fans will bus down to Long Island for the Islanders-Thrashers game on Saturday in a show of support for getting a team back in the provincial capital. Both the Isles and Thrashers have had attendance and financial problems and are seen by some as possible candidates for relocation.
"We just want to show the NHL that Quebec needs a team and is a better market; maybe a third of the markets in the NHL aren’t doing so well right now.” Vincent Cauchon told Jeff Z. Klein of The New York Times. Cauchon is a radio sports show host and a founder of Nordiques Nation, the fan group that is organizing the trip. “One reason we picked Nassau is because every time we watched an Islanders game on TV, there was no one in there.”
Cauchon said the price for the trip, hotel and game ticket was $200 per person. He added that the group wasn't targeting the Islanders as a franchise, they were merely urging the NHL to relocate, maintaining that Quebec was an established market with existing fans. They felt Atlanta, however, had never really established itself and that Quebec City would be a better location for the club.
Uh, oh Ottawa: Little is going right for the Senators, including mediocre-to poor-goaltending, scoring problems, lack of defensive awareness and friction between coach Corey Clouston and Alex Kovalev. But if one moment typified the Sens' struggles this season, it was Sergei Gonchar, their prized free agent signing who has played far below what was expected, just plain falling last night while trying to play the puck after a faceoff with the goalie pulled and the Sens trying for a last ditch tying goal...
Ottawa had entered the third period with a 3-2 lead, and it was their fourth straight home loss. The Rangers have now won five straight on the road, and their 11 wins away from Madison Square Garden lead the NHL.
Streak ends: When the Flames Olli Jokinen scored late in the third period last night...
...it was the first power play goal the Kings had surrendered at Staples Center this season after 45 consecutive man advantage situations at home. L.A. won the game 2-1 and has won three straight on home ice after their miserable eastern road trip in which they lost five of six. The Kings' 11 home wins are tied with Montreal for the second best mark in the league. The Capitals lead the NHL with 12.
The Flames have now alternated winning and losing over their past eight games and remain just one point in front of Edmonton at the bottom of the Western Conference.
And finally, yes, it's true. Maple Leafs fans did throw waffles at their heroes on Thursday night at the conclusion of Toronto's 4-1 loss to the Flyers. Wonder how waffles will look in 3D.