Diary of a commentator

Heh...that escalated quickly! I had exchanged messages with Agent Tim this morning, and at his suggestion I made a few tweaks to the tennis page on my commentary website before he forwarded the link to his contact at WTA Media. I'd asked him to confirm the nature of my potential WTA duties, and he'd said it was very similar to my work for Tennis TV - providing extra coverage of non-show courts. Which is fine, of course; he'd suggested that the goal would be for me to do a year of that work, and then maybe in 2021 I'd be in line for a promotion to world feed duties, which are done out of DAZN's facility in Leeds.

Within 30 minutes of Tim contacting WTA Media, I got an email from a production coordinator with the WTA, offering me a job to do world feed commentary from Leeds on two of the quarterfinals in Shenzen on Thursday, January 9. So much for waiting until 2021! The day rate I've been offered to call those two matches is almost double what I've been making on my ATP work in London; while I do have to make my way down to Leeds again, and the first match starts at 3 a.m. UK time (yuck), it's great for me to get my foot in the door, and I'm certainly not going to say no. (I will probably have a CHL game to call on Tuesday, January 7, so I'll probably try to fly to Vienna from Newcastle on the Monday, fly back to Newcastle on Wednesday, drive from there to Leeds, pull an all-nighter to call the matches, and then either drive straight home or stay with my wife's aunt and uncle who live maybe half an hour away from Leeds...the logistics are frightening, but I'll have to make them work!)
 
Meanwhile, I've been given the CHL assignment I really wanted for Tuesday: the second leg of Frölunda Gothenburg vs. Färjestad Karlstad. Normally I'm not keen on calling two teams from the same country until I have to in the CHL, but this one is great for multiple reasons. In the first instance, I've called both teams multiple times this season already, so I won't have to do much prep work at all (which is huge given the busy week I'm having). Also, Färjestad won the first leg last week 6-3 - having led 5-0 at one stage - and so the defending champions will have a pretty fair hill to climb. So from a narrative perspective, either Färjestad completes the upset, or Frölunda storms all the way back to complete an epic comeback; it's a win-win, really. Nice morning I'm having!
 

tmracht

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Man congrats I'm glad things are working out on the WTA front!
 

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. And of course my travel expenses will be nil. So that's definitely a positive development!
Wait, do productions not normally cover your travel? Or are you saying you'll be able to net more out of each one, because although charging less over, you're still ahead net of travel costs? I'd have assumed they just reimbursed actuals, so it was all the same to your financially (just not personally).
 
Wait, do productions not normally cover your travel? Or are you saying you'll be able to net more out of each one, because although charging less over, you're still ahead net of travel costs? I'd have assumed they just reimbursed actuals, so it was all the same to your financially (just not personally).
Actually, I'm not so lucky in this regard. It does vary by the jobs I'm doing: for my trips to Vienna, the Austrian production company I work for pays for my flights and my hotel, but I still have to pay for airport parking and meals and subway travel within Vienna (etc.). But when I go to SW London for my ATP tennis commentary, I get no travel expenses paid for at all, and the fee is small enough that I need to work two days in a row to make any profit at all, and three days in a row for it to really be worth my while. In my first year working for DAZN in Leeds, they used to pay for hotels and a bit of a stipend on top of that for my car mileage, but then they took the car stipend away, and then they downgraded the class of hotel I was staying in, and now I don't think they would cover my hotel at all as they look to cut costs. On the other hand, on the big assignments I've had like the Asian Games in Jakarta last year and next year's Summer Olympics in Tokyo, I'll got all of my travel expenses paid plus a per diem to cover meals and the like. I think it's fair to say that the bigger and higher profile the production, the more likely it is that you'll get your expenses covered...but generally, I'm still low enough down the totem pole that I can't necessarily expect that to be the case.
 
The second leg of the Frölunda vs. Färjestad CHL game I called tonight was pretty much everything I'd hoped it might be. Frölunda scored twice early on to narrow their aggregate deficit to 6-5, but then Färjestad scored a very lucky goal - Niklas Lasu, who scored the OT winner for Frölunda in the 2017 Final some of you might remember (as it came two days after Super Bowl LI and 28-3 befell me), diverted the puck into his own net - to finish the first period two goals ahead on aggregate. Frölunda struck twice in the second to make it 7-7, then Färjestad scored again to make it 8-7 with 20 minutes to go. But early in the third period, after Lasu was on the receiving end of a nasty hit into the boards which led to a double-minor penalty, Lasu himself scored two goals during both halves of the power play. Lasu then scored again with about four minutes remaining for the hat trick, and Frölunda scored an empty-netter as well to make it 8-2 on the night, and 11-8 on aggregate. The two teams are only separated by one point in the SHL table, but Frölunda utterly dominated the game, outshooting Färjestad 21-2 in the third period. Truly ridiculous, and a joy to commentate upon; my only fear is that I may have been a bit overly enthusiastic in some of my calls for both teams, as I was ready from the outset to embrace a wild game like this (and had plenty of facts and figures ready in case the comeback happened) and was maybe a bit too excited about the prospect.

Incidentally, I was supposed to have the highlights of four games to voice over - out of the seven taking place tonight - but one of the early games in Stockholm started two hours late because Skellefteå's flight down from the northern Baltic coast was delayed by bad weather. So I was able to pass that along to my Welsh colleague calling one of the later games...a nice result for me, in the end.
 
A favor to ask: would anyone with access to TSN in Canada and/or NHL Network in the US be able to check whether they're using my commentary on the Frolunda vs. Biel-Bienne game in the Champions Hockey League tomorrow? It starts at 1 pm ET but might be on tape delay - not sure what the schedule is, but I did receive an email saying the game was going to be on those two networks, and I never have any idea how and where the world feed comms are used.
 
Over the past week, I dealt with a virus that really laid me out for a few days, and which still has me feeling fatigued and my voice feeling clogged up. I'd have preferred my game tonight - Frölunda (SWE) vs. Biel-Bienne (SUI) - to have been 48 hours later; on the other hand, if it had been 48 hours earlier, I'm not sure what I would have done. It's a constant occupational hazard; I'm sure most of us have occasionally heard unwell commentators try to muddle through in the past, and it's really not fun to be behind the mic in those circumstances.

Tonight, though, turned out to be just about OK. My voice held up, and despite a few small mistakes - including a justifiable "He scores! No! Yes!" call on a strange goal which just crossed the goal line and stuck in the snow at the side of the net and went to video review before being confirmed - I'm pretty pleased with how I did, even tweaking my commentary slightly on account of the fact that NHL Network and/or TSN *might* be using my commentary (e.g., making sure I went cleanly into and out of the TV timeouts in each period instead of talking through them). And Biel-Bienne, in their first ever CHL season, went into Gothenburg and took a 3-0 lead in the third period against Frölunda despite ultimately getting outshot 52-16. Former Anaheim and Calgary goalie Jonas Hiller was excellent, and although Frölunda struck back with two quick goals in the third, Biel hung on for the 3-2 win and takes a narrow advantage home with them for the second leg next week (which I'll almost certainly be calling as well). Interestingly, because Frölunda lost again, even if they do rally to advance to the semifinals, it's looking increasingly unlikely that they'll be in position to host this year's final. I like Gothenburg a lot, but I'm always keen to travel elsewhere in Europe, and I think I'd particularly enjoy getting a chance to go to Switzerland again...

While I was happy enough with the live game, I'm even more pleased with my voiceover work tonight: I had three sets of three-minute highlights to voice over, and for the first time ever, I did each one in a single take, mixing in relevant stats and background notes as I went along without having seen any of the three reels in advance. I did have to edit two small segments after the fact, so it was like throwing a no-hitter with two walks rather than pitching a perfect game, but it meant I was able to call a live game that started at 6 p.m. and still be able to leave the office in time to catch an 8:57 p.m. bus, which is awesomely early for me.

And that's particularly welcome given that after flying home to Scotland tomorrow, I then have to drive down to Leeds on Thursday for my first experience of WTA tennis commentary. Actually, I'm just doing some testing - calling a set of quarterfinal matches from the Tianjin tournament in October as a color commentator (not the lead guy!) - and don't have to prepare too much in advance, but it will still be a fairly long day, although I'm looking forward to seeing DAZN's new digs on the outskirts of Leeds, which is where the testing is taking place. No longer do I have to go into the city center; the new site is apparently much more accessible for those traveling by car (i.e., me), so that should be helpful.
 
Yesterday, I was about to board my flight from Vienna to Amsterdam - having spent about an hour at the airport logging the stats from the CHL games on Tuesday and doing a bit of advance prep for the second leg of the Biel vs. Frölunda quarterfinal (which I'll be calling as well next week) - when I got an email from my Basketball Champions League producer, asking if I could call a game at 7 p.m. UK time last night. To make a long story short, I advised him that this wasn't a good idea in case my flights were delayed and because I wouldn't be in position to do much research, went ahead and did about 30 minutes of prep when I got to Amsterdam, then heard back only then that he'd found someone else and I wasn't needed. Which is probably just as well, although in the game I was going to call, PAOK of Greece took the lead of Bonn of Germany with 11.6 seconds left and won 85-83 after Bonn missed two three-pointers for the win, the second coming at the buzzer. (And the commentator calls on those moments weren't great, really...sigh.)

Today, I made the round trip to Leeds - three hours in the car each way - for my WTA tennis commentary testing day at DAZN's new facility on the outskirts of the city. It was quite a disorienting experience, not least insofar as when I arrived on the floor on which my commentary booth was located, a massive wall at least 20 feet wide was covered from floor to ceiling in a mural of the Superdome at the start of a Saints game. Exactly what this Falcons fan can't wait to see every time I return to Leeds in the future! (There are also several pictures of Derek Jeter on another wall, just to make things even worse; at least my commentary booth was very spacious relative to every other booth I've ever worked in, and full of big monitors - four in total - that will be very easy for me to use in the future.) Anyway, my partner for the day was Paul, who had been in since 9 a.m. testing solo commentary on the same two matches from Tianjin in October that we then called together in the afternoon...neither of which were among those we'd been given facts for in advance. I wound up doing colour commentary on matches between Xinyu Wang vs. Shuyue Ma, and Shuai Peng vs. Xiaodi You: four Chinese players, of whom one had qualified and two were lucky losers from qualifying, and only Peng (at #96 in the world at the time) was in the world's top 100. So a bit of a challenge, really! But for all of these strange circumstances, I thought I actually did really well; Paul, who has even less tennis commentary experience than I do, wasn't giving me a lot to work with, but even that was a relief relative to having to talk on my own all the time. So I would actually sign up to do color commentary again, if given the chance - not that I'm expecting to get that chance, but still. Not that I was actually being tested or judged on my commentary today: basically, we were there to fill time and say basically anything, so that the DAZN techies in Ireland could test whatever it was they needed to test. We started on the Wang-Ma match with the score already 4-1 in the first set, and after finishing that two-setter, we'd only done maybe four or five games of the Peng-You match when we were told that our job was basically done and we were free to go. I'd been booked in for five hours of work and wound up doing only two; can't really complain about that, even if I'm still not sure what the point of the exercise was!
 
My CHL game tonight was absolutely bonkers. The second leg of the quarterfinal between Biel-Bienne and Frölunda began with Frölunda scoring twice in the first period to take a one-goal aggregate lead, and it looked for all the world as though they would complete their comeback and cruise through to the semifinals. But Biel pulled one back in the second period to level the contest at 4-4 on aggregate, and then in the third they scored a soft goal to retake the aggregate lead, then scored again on the power play with 3:58 to go up 6-4 on aggregate. Game over, right? Nope...after just missing an empty-netter with just over three minutes left, this happened (apologies for the slightly rough editing by my colleagues here in Vienna):

View: https://youtu.be/NJsXFMiT2Mo

So they went to 10 minutes of 3-on-3 overtime, in which Biel committed a penalty...which eventually, after some valiant penalty-killing, led to this:

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VPzjCjMcDEg

That might be the most dramatic CHL game I've ever called, right up there with the 2017 Final, and it's probably on my list of the overtime hockey games I've called so far that I'll be the most fond of when my career is finished - the others being:

--1998 Beanpot Semifinal (Harvard 5, Boston College 4)
--1998 Beanpot Final (Boston University 2, Harvard 1)
--2017 CHL Final (Frölunda 4, Sparta Prague 3)
--2018 Men's Olympic Quarterfinal (Germany 4, Sweden 3)
--2018 KHL Western Conference Finals, Game 6 (CSKA Moscow 3, SKA St. Petersburg 2)

I'm still recovering from my throat infection, having gotten some medicine from my GP yesterday morning, and my voice still isn't at 100% - or it certainly doesn't feel like it is - but for the most part I think I hid that fact pretty well tonight.

Anyway, three of the four remaining teams in the CHL are from Sweden - all three Swiss teams went out tonight, which leaves Frölunda to face Luleå in the all-Swedish semifinal (a rematch of the 2015 Final), and Djurgården to face Mountfield HK of the Czech Republic in the other semifinal. If Djurgården and Frölunda both win their semifinals, the final in February will probably be in Stockholm, which would be great - I've never been there before. But I might wind up on the northern edge of the Baltic in Luleå, or maybe even in Gothenburg again...anyway, I'll cross that bridge in due course.
 

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MDLzera
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Mountfield, of the Czech Republic? At least MLS clubs aren't the only ones with Anglo-poseur names.
 
My new year of commentary begins tomorrow with the first leg of the Champions Hockey League semifinal between Luleå and Frölunda, currently #1 and #2 in the Swedish league standings. First legs of two-legged matchups are always a bit awkward insofar as you know nothing will be decided on the night, and ideally I'd be calling games between teams of different countries, as that's what the CHL is all about. Those caveats aside, I couldn't be more excited about this matchup, as it's the best two teams from the best (non-KHL) league in Europe, and I really have no idea who is going to win. Plus, I'll only have the one highlight to voice over after I'm done, which means an early night and less work for the same fixed rate of pay, which is always good.

I did in fact drive down to Newcastle (1 hr 30 mins from home) to fly out today, and on Wednesday my flight from Vienna doesn't depart until 3 p.m., so I'll have a late morning with which to catch up on sleep before my all-nighter on Wednesday to Thursday: my second flight is due to arrive in Newcastle at 10 p.m., theoretically leaving me with plenty of time to drive down to Leeds for my 3 a.m. (GMT) commentary on the WTA tennis event in Shenzen. I see that none of the eight seeded players have lost their first-round matches yet, so I'm hopeful of having some decent quarterfinals to call; if the seedings hold up, we'd be looking at Bencic vs. Muguruza, Wang vs. Alexandrova, Mertens vs. Rybakina and Sabalenka vs. Zhang. Fingers crossed...

I've also been given two more Basketball Champions League commentary dates, on 21 and 28 January, which means that my next five Tuesdays are all accounted for: the two CHL semifinal legs, then the two BCL dates, and then the CHL Final. I might have another basketball game to call the day after the CHL Final, but that assumes it's held in a city with convenient air links back home, and I don't think my producer will hold the date for me as such, which is fair enough. (If I have to travel to Luleå, on the northern shore of the Baltic Sea, it'll probably take me three flights to get back to Scotland, which would obviously be a no-go.) I'm still in a situation where I just want to keep working as much as possible, so any and all assignments are greatly appreciated!
 

tmracht

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Whoa lets hope those brackets hold together for you in Shenzen!
 

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I just learned that EuroLeague Basketball is NOT the same thing as the Basketball Champions League, and the orgs running them have quite a rivalry going, with all sorts of wrestling over control and prestige.

I see DAZN has a lot of the broadcasting rights for the BCL, so I wish you luck there, I just hope your bosses don't end up too caught up in the politics of that, or that you'd get branded a renegade by one or the other. I'm sure you'd love to be doing EuroLeague too.
 
I just learned that EuroLeague Basketball is NOT the same thing as the Basketball Champions League, and the orgs running them have quite a rivalry going, with all sorts of wrestling over control and prestige.

I see DAZN has a lot of the broadcasting rights for the BCL, so I wish you luck there, I just hope your bosses don't end up too caught up in the politics of that, or that you'd get branded a renegade by one or the other. I'm sure you'd love to be doing EuroLeague too.
Funnily enough, my pro basketball commentary debut was a EuroCup game for Eurosport, EuroCup being the second-tier competition aligned with EuroLeague - in opposition to FIBA - and on a par with the BCL. When I was first considered for FIBA work thereafter, Agent Tim advised me not to broadcast that previous gig at all loudly. I'm sure I could make the switch back to EuroCup/League if I wanted to and had the contacts etc. to get such work, but I'm pretty sure I could never then go back to FIBA. It's all a bit bizarre, to be honest.

(Edit - typo)
 
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Ah yes, the old Churchill: Anyone can rat, but it takes a certain amount of ingenuity to re-rat.

Yep it's crazy. It's as if anyone who had anything to do with the Premier League was forever blacklisted from dealing with the Football League's divisions. Just bizarre. They sparred for 4 years, finally agreed to sanction EL as the top league and FIBA's leagues as below them... and then 11 years later FIBA tried to go back on it and subvert them (and got shut down hard, but went ahead with their rival league anyway). Threatened to suspend national basketball federations from international competition unless they leaned on their clubs, and everyone collectively said "actually, nah". I love everything about the entire story except the bind it may one day put you in.

Really reminds me of the shenanigans FIFA pulled that created the Soccer Wars in the USA and ultimately destroyed the popularity of the sport here for 60 years. All because some players discovered they could get paid more if they went to (less-mature but better-funded) clubs in the US, and FIFA was doing the bidding of european clubs in sowing discord. Except that this time around, the clubs and leagues have more power and just DGAF.
 
My CHL game tonight was full of incident, and just as in the quarterfinals, Frölunda will have to overcome a 3-2 first leg deficit if they want to advance beyond the semifinals. The worst incident from my perspective was one of my own doing, sort of: while I've been feeling OK of late, several members of my immediate family have been struggling with throat-related viruses, and I guess my own throat isn't quite 100%. Because in the first period, Frölunda had a good chance to score the opening goal, and after I made an emotive call of the shot and save, my voice just disappeared on me. Usually when I'm feeling sick I will rein myself in a bit, but I had thought I was fine...until I was suddenly gasping for air and leaving an uncomfortable silence for many painful seconds while I tried to gulp some water and do anything else I could think of to regain a full voice. (This in particular is where not having a color commentator alongside to potentially cover for me is quite unfortunate!) Luckily it was just that one incident that got to me, but that's as bad as I can remember myself sounding since I last got something lodged in my throat - more than a year ago, I think - and had my voice disappear in similar fashion.

That aside, I got to call this great opening goal by Luleå's Einar Emanuelsson...

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VnEQbpGVHZQ

...which helped Luleå led 2-0 after one period, but Frölunda scored twice in the second to tie things up, and then former Hobey Baker winner Jack Connolly got the winner for Luleå with less than seven minutes left. (Just before Connolly scored his goal, I had started talking about Frölunda's Rhett Rhakshani and realized that as a dual American and Iranian citizen, he'll be particularly worried about what's happening in the Middle East right now; that tangent segued directly into the brief build-up for the goal, and if it had carried on for five seconds longer, my call of the game-winner almost certainly would have sounded quite bizarre and borderline inappropriate; sometimes you have to be a little bit lucky!) That sets up a tasty second leg which I can only hope is as exciting as the second leg of Frölunda's quarterfinal this year against Biel-Bienne - or as the second leg of Frölunda's quarterfinal in 2015 against Luleå, for that matter, those being the two best second-leg knockout stage games I've commentated on in my six seasons of CHL work.

Anyway, here's hoping I get another eight hours or more of sleep tonight like I did last night ahead of my marathon day-and-a-half of travel and tennis. Both of the top two seeds (Bencic and Sabalenka) have been knocked out in Shenzen, so right now the confirmed quarterfinals are Mertens-Rybakina and Bondarenko-Pliskova (that's #66-ranked Kristyna Pliskova, not her #2-ranked twin sister Karolina), with the other two quarterfinals to be determined in the matches taking place tonight and/or early tomorrow morning; I should know my order of play before I leave for the airport, and there's at least a decent chance I'll get the two matches already known, given that they have an extra day of rest and can safely go off in the early session on Thursday. I'd probably take that, all things being considered!
 
Well, I've made it to Leeds - arriving on a cold and stormy night, four hours before my first match goes on court - after a pair of tiring flights, me doing research at various airports and on my lengthy flight from Vienna to Heathrow (I *love love love* that you can play around with the filters on a player's tennisabstract.com results page even without an active internet connection), and a longer-than-expected drive featuring two diversions for closed roads. Humorously, the Shenzhen organizers went the other way with tonight's/today's/tomorrow's - depending on your POV - order of play than what I'd expected, and I have Zarina Diyas vs. Garbine Muguruza followed by Qiang Wang vs. Ekaterina Alexandrova. Which I'm completely fine with: one match featuring a former Wimbledon and French Open champion, the other featuring the Chinese #1 and hopefully therefore at least a passionate-ish crowd. I'll take whatever I'm given, but hopefully either I get two very quick matches or two compelling ones, because I'm going to be properly exhausted even before I set out on my three-hour drive back to Scotland. (I'm tempted to try and grab a few hours' sleep on the floor in my commentary booth, which is very spacious and even has a small couch for me to lounge on, albeit not one suitable for sleeping on.)

Interestingly, all three WTA tournaments taking place this week - my event in Shenzhen as well as those in Auckland and Brisbane - are being commentated upon from the row of booths here in Leeds. And the world feed of the match in Auckland between Coco Gauff and Laura Siegemund is being called right now by Adam Fielder, next to whom I've worked in London on several of my ATP 1000 commentaries over the last few years. I peeked through the door of his booth and inadvertently caught his attention (his match happened to be in a changeover), so we had a few quick words and I invited him to pop round to my booth after his first match. He's got Serena Williams vs. Christina McHale coming up next as well, and the possibility of a Serena vs. Coco match tomorrow night; some guys get all the luck, although in fact he deserves it, as I do think he's rather good.

This being my first world feed tennis match, my rules of engagement are rather different relative to the ATP work I did last year. The basic changes are that a) I'm not to talk during changeovers (to let host broadcasters take ad breaks during them); b) I will have access to the local director's talkback feed in my headset, so I'll know exactly when we're going into and out of the ad breaks and the start/end of the match instead of having to just make it up as I go along; and c) there are specific times when I need to talk or not talk so that the WTA can edit the broadcast into highlight clips for social media use or different full match or extended highlight programs (etc.). But if you're interested in the nuts and bolts of this sort of thing, here is the "Match Etiquette" section from my WTA World Feed Commentary Guide, more or less in full:
Commentary for all World Feed matches should begin as the first player enters the stadium. This is a change from previous years. The line has to be short introduction and is specifically designed to be added in the edit. “Player X is entering the Quarter Final for the 3rd tournament running” A clear out should be made, the same has to be done for the second player. These are key for the short highlights edits and must be adhered to.

Commentary should cease when the Umpire starts talking to the players at the net and should remain quiet for the coin toss.
  • Once the players sit down at the end of warm up, a Match Ident graphic will be displayed. Take a pause (preferably 3 seconds) and begin with a clean introduction to the match. This is the start of the long edit. Preferably don’t start with “So…” as in the line “So, here we go” start with “Here we go.”
There is to be no commentary during sit downs as most broadcasters opt to go to break.
  • Commentary should pause within 10 seconds of the game point being won. You may have access to the Directors talkback in your headset. They will count to breaks. On a non-HB where there is no count, please take your own count of 3 seconds from when the player sits down.
  • Commentary will restart when ‘Time’ is called.
Replays should be talked over, but not back into the live action. The points with replays are put out on social media and they cut the clip before the replay wipe after a good point, so please make sure you have finished talking before then. If you are in conversation during a point, please be aware that when this highlight is played, the viewer has no reference to your previous chat, this does not sound good. The people producing this have no ability to edit your words. Please look at the WTA feed on Twitter for examples.

End Of Match Commentary for the match ends after you have spoken through the graphics on screen which detail the match stats and the tournament drawer as it stands. There could also be a ‘Race To Shenzhen’ graphic depending on the stage of the season. Following the graphics there should be a ‘Closer’ or match highlights. Please do not talk through these. If you do not have director’s talkback, please take the animation out of the last graphic as your cue to say goodbye.

Please note that we will be able to provide you with director talkback for all tournaments where WTA Media are the host broadcast. This will be a ‘listen only.’ You will hear the countdowns for the start of match graphics, the breaks and the end of match graphics.

Director talk back will NOT be provided for tournaments where WTA Media are not the host broadcaster.
 

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That's cool behind-the-scenes stuff there. Does this world-feed stuff bring with it a new production team that you don't usually work with? I hope, given the new audience and team, that you're in a position to hustle some producers and get remembered a little bit.

Bit of a bummer on the draw, though I'd watch Muguruza hit against a wall, she's got such easy power and grace. And yeah, getting the lesser Pliskova is a much bigger drop than getting the lesser Zverev, more like the lesser Radwanska. At least Jamie Murray has a legit doubles career that he's earned all on his own.
 
Does this world-feed stuff bring with it a new production team that you don't usually work with? I hope, given the new audience and team, that you're in a position to hustle some producers and get remembered a little bit.
Nah, not really - the production team is all DAZN now. My best case scenario is to emulate what Adam Fielder has done over time: start on the outside court coverage (as I did), work my way into consideration for remote world feed commentary (which I now have), then progress to being a traveling world feed commentator who gets to go to the tournaments (as Adam has), and then maybe get work with a network on the back of that. Still possible, but whether I ultimately want to be a traveling tennis minstrel remains to be seen.

Bit of a bummer on the draw, though I'd watch Muguruza hit against a wall, she's got such easy power and grace.
There wasn't a lot of power or grace from Muguruza today, but hey, she did pull out the win over Diyas - which is pronounced so close to "Diaz" that I had to remind myself from time to time that I wasn't commentating on another Hispanic player - in three scrappy sets, 6-4 2-6- 6-4. That took more than two hours, as did Alexandrova's slightly surprising defeat of Wang 3-6 6-4 6-3, in which the Russian basically chose to go for broke on every single ground stroke, a strategy which failed her repeatedly in the first set but which eventually did come good. The length of both matches meant it was nearly 8 a.m. before I signed off, and by the end I was close to dozing off multiple times; unlike my overnight Olympic hockey assignments two years ago, the problem with tennis is that there are many pauses in which fatigue can much more noticeably kick in. There was one moment at 4-2 of the third set in the Alexandrova-Wang match when what I thought was a butterfly or a white piece of paper/rubbish fluttered across the court during one of Wang's service points, and after I talked about how odd that was, I had to stop and ask myself whether I hadn't hallucinated that - but now, I've just viewed the replay on Amazon Prime, which has the WTA rights this year in the UK, and indeed I hadn't imagined anything. (On my drive home, for the first time in as long as I can remember I had to pull over into a service area and rest my eyes for an hour or so before continuing; I can't remember being so tired that I didn't feel I could safely drive a car.)

By the by, I didn't mention that I managed to find a shower room on my floor of the DAZN building and use it before my two matches, drying myself with just a spare and rather small golf towel I had in the trunk of my car, so that helped me feel a bit fresher for my commentary and for the drive home than I might have felt. Although in trying to retrieve my shampoo from my toiletries bag, I managed to scrape my left thumb across an uncovered razor and draw quite a bit of blood; luckily I had a few bandages on me, but that was another unanticipated hazard last night/this morning!

Anyway, the most interesting aspect of WTA commentating relative to ATP matches is that coaches can come onto the court during a match and get miked up as they talk with their players. Not that I could understand Conchita Martinez's talks with Muguruza, but Thomas Drouet had several fascinating conversations with Wang during her match, and although those talks always took place during the commercial breaks of the world feed coverage and I'd have to recap them somewhat to talk about them, in a way it was like temporarily having a color man next to me, someone to give me analysis I could pivot off of. Receiving fresh material at 6:30 in the morning that I didn't need to research myself is a wonderful thing!
 

tmracht

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From all my trips to Boston to Bangkok, getting access to the showers in Tokyo was a game changer so I can totally see how that would work for you as well, what I found helped immensely too in that case was a fresh set of undies after the quick rinse off. And yes, I too have sliced myself with my travel razor.
 

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Nah, not really - the production team is all DAZN now. My best case scenario is to emulate what Adam Fielder has done over time: start on the outside court coverage (as I did), work my way into consideration for remote world feed commentary (which I now have), then progress to being a traveling world feed commentator who gets to go to the tournaments (as Adam has), and then maybe get work with a network on the back of that. Still possible, but whether I ultimately want to be a traveling tennis minstrel remains to be seen.
So one thing that's been unclear to me throughout this thread is what the path is for someone to go from "clearly has experience and passion for commentating" to being one of the people on the networks doing big events. It's clearly not just being a former athlete trying to comment on your own sport. Just as clearly, agents matter, and their contacts matter. But where are the leverage points to meet the right people and make the right impression on them? I'm sure you've often asked yourself that same thing, just as often as "what is it I really want to be working on, other than the NFL?". And you've talked about what your value proposition is, an american accent with british cultural knowledge and sensibilities who can do just about any sport. But if you've studied, say, the top 20-30 commentators whose league you aspire to, and noted what their paths were, I'd be interested to learn what the trends or lessons were that you took from that.
 
I just realized that the WTA Twitter feed is full of highlights from my two matches yesterday which feature my commentary, which is pretty cool; I've retweeted all of them via my own account (@DKilfara), which is normally dormant, but here are two of them - end of the Muguruza match, end of the second set of the Alexandrova match - which I kinda like.

Oh, and also extended match highlights on the WTA's YouTube page! Nice...

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXd0rA8uVlk

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yD8CuOFcvDI
 
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So one thing that's been unclear to me throughout this thread is what the path is for someone to go from "clearly has experience and passion for commentating" to being one of the people on the networks doing big events. It's clearly not just being a former athlete trying to comment on your own sport. Just as clearly, agents matter, and their contacts matter. But where are the leverage points to meet the right people and make the right impression on them? I'm sure you've often asked yourself that same thing, just as often as "what is it I really want to be working on, other than the NFL?". And you've talked about what your value proposition is, an american accent with british cultural knowledge and sensibilities who can do just about any sport. But if you've studied, say, the top 20-30 commentators whose league you aspire to, and noted what their paths were, I'd be interested to learn what the trends or lessons were that you took from that.
If I knew the answer to any of these questions, this Diary thread probably wouldn't exist. :)

One thing I will say is that when I was a teenager and in my early 20s and pondered possibly becoming a sports commentator, the whole networking side of the business frightened the hell out of me, and really led me to abandon my dreams for the better part of two decades. I looked at a guy like Jim Nantz and thought, there's nothing he can do which I can't conceivably do or learn to do as a commentator, but he networked ferociously coming out of Houston and made the luck any commentator needs to make to become a titan in the business. I'm trying to sort of make up for lost time to whatever extent I can now, but really, I don't think I could have hacked it that way as a young man; it's only with age and experience of networking in other business contexts that I'm even remotely comfortable at it.
 
On my last day in Vienna this hockey season, I made a side trip to a boardgame store before heading up to the studio, and on my commute thereafter I dropped my backpack quite heavily on the floor of an underground station when changing lines at Stephansplatz. And when I got to my commentary booth and plugged in my laptop, there was no picture! Panic stations...long story short, it seems as though the cable connecting the main processor/etc. to the monitor of my laptop has come loose, and the techies here managed to round up a second monitor that I could use with my laptop (via an HDMI cable) during the game. Which actually worked out beautifully - two big screens is definitely better than one! - but it looks like I'll be going to a repair shop when I'm back in Scotland on Thursday.

One other curious technical note from my broadcast tonight: I've been working here for six full CHL seasons, and tonight is the first time someone told me that by twisting the microphone arm of my headset to a vertical position, pointing it straight up, that also mutes it. All this time I've been pressing the "Mute" button down manually, sometimes for minutes at a time while waiting for a cue to begin, and now I've discovered I just need to do that! I'm amazed at how this sort of detail can escape my detection for so long...I can almost literally say that nobody tells me anything in this job sometimes.

As for my game itself, Luleå scored first to take a two-goal aggregate lead - although on the replay, I've noticed that I said Frölunda scored before getting it right the second time (without realizing I'd screwed up the first time). I *hate* learning I've done something like that, although I think I did well in the rest of the broadcast, particularly in mixing the many other facts I'd prepared into the broadcast pretty seamlessly. Anyway, of course Frölunda rallied, because they always rally: they pulled one back in the second period before scoring twice in the third to win it, first on an amazing deflection out of the air by Joel Lundqvist (Henrik's twin brother) in what was his 1,000th senior club game (counting the SHL, NHL, AHL and CHL), and then the winner coming from Ryan Lasch, the Wayne Gretzky of the CHL who is going to win his second CHL MVP award this year. It's amazing: before tonight, no team had ever rallied from a first-leg semifinal deficit to reach a CHL Final, and Frölunda has now rallied from first-leg deficits in all three Knockout Stage rounds on their way to the Final. And now they, and I, will go on the road to the Czech Republic and the city of Hradec Kralove, as Mountfield HK defeated Djurgarden 6-1 on aggregate in the other semifinal. Hradec Kralove is about 90 minutes east of Prague; I'd rather have gone to Stockholm, but this probably beats having to go all the way to Luleå (three flights away and at the mercy of whatever Arctic weather the northern shores of the Baltic might throw at me). Mountfield was in the same group as Frölunda, with both teams each winning by a single goal, and although Frölunda will no doubt be favored, Mountfield will have the home crowd in their favor. So it should be a fun Final, one way or the other!
 
I'm back in commentary action tonight with my next Basketball Champions League game, which features the delightfully named Happy Casa Brindisi against PAOK from Thessaloniki in Greece. This one will be from my living room - I've got my remote commentary flypack all set up and ready to go (after a brief but frightful scare where I thought the power cable hadn't been included in the flypack when it was given to me), and I've spent the better part of two days researching both teams and their players. I was interrupted last night for more than three hours by the sudden disappearance of Bluetooth from my laptop, which apparently happens to Windows 10 PCs from time to time but could have come at a much more convenient moment for me.

One of the things I really appreciate when researching players on lesser known sports teams is that the process gives me a real sense of how athletes' life cycles work within a given sport. What happens to that decent-to-very good college basketball player after he graduates (edit - or leaves school before graduating)? Take PAOK's Antwaine Wiggins - cousin of Andrew Wiggins - who spent five years including his redshirt season at the College of Charleston and averaged 16.0 points per game his senior year in 2012. Where does someone like that go? He played in the G-League for a year with Toronto's farm club (and won the title with Raptors 905), but he's also bounced around the leagues in Brazil, Argentina and now Greece, where he was the Defensive Player of the Year in the GBL (Greek Basketball League) for Ifestos Limnou before transferring to PAOK. That's just one case, but in looking at the 11 American players between my two teams tonight, there are 11 fairly similar story arcs - most of these guys either did really well for a smaller school, or struggled at a major program, or sometimes both - e.g., Brindisi's Dominique Sutton played three years at Kansas State before transferring to North Carolina Central, where he was first team All-MEAC in 2012. Or Brindisi's Darius Thompson, who played a year at Tennessee, transferred to Virginia and played two years there (after a year on the sidelines), and then transferred again to Western Kentucky for his final year of eligibility in 2017-18; last year, after playing with Toronto in the Las Vegas Summer League, he was the MVP of the Dutch League and won the Dutch Cup with ZZ Leiden, earning him a transfer to a much higher-profile club in Italy where's he's averaging 12.7ppg in the BCL this year. It's hard not to think of these players' hopes and dreams as I research them, imagining how they must have dreamed of starring in the NBA and wondering how wistful, regretful or perhaps angry they are at falling as short of that dream as they have - or alternatively, how thankful they must feel for still having the chance to play basketball for a living and being able to travel the world. (It's pretty easy to draw parallels between those players and myself as a commentator, of course, if I'm in the mood to do so!) Many American players in particular seem to move from club to club and from country to country every year, or even more rapidly than that; I wonder how often those moves are by choice, whether because they want to travel or to move up the career ladder or because they've knocked someone up and want to get out of Dodge (etc.), and how often they are forced to move because they find themselves unwanted by their clubs for whatever reason. It's all really quite fascinating, and not a little bit poignant.

The particularly funny thing about the Americans in my game today is that quite a few of them share the same name with other famous people. PAOK has former NBA player Bobby Brown and a very good outside shooter named Adam Smith whose unofficial nickname to some teammates and journalists is "The Invisible Hand", which I love to death. Brindisi has Kelvin Martin, not the former Super Bowl winner with the Cowboys; they also have John Brown, a name shared by 155 people with Wikipedia entries. (How many of them can you name, I wonder?) And Brindisi also has a good scorer named Tyler Stone, which is apparently the name of a villainous corporation head in the Marvel comic universe - specifically, Spider-Man 2099; his mother is named Sharon, which in the context of everyone else is just delicious. I wonder how many of these facts I'll be able to shoehorn into the broadcast tonight?
 
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What a game I had tonight. PAOK took the lead at 3-2 and built it up to as many as 11 points on five different occasions in the first half, but Brindisi fought back and took the lead for the first time at 70-68, and they see-sawed back and forth thereafter right until the end of the game. With the score tied at 88-88. Adam Smith drilled a three with 24 seconds left to give PAOK the lead, but Brindisi got a couple of free throws, and after Bobby Brown missed two free throws of his own with 11 seconds left, Tyler Stone took the rebound for Brindisi, dribbled down the court and nailed a deep three with 1.6 seconds left to win the game for the Italians. (Brown had a final heave from halfcourt for PAOK that missed.) Definitely the best finish to a basketball game I've had, perhaps jointly with a FIBA Americas League game I called a few years ago which also featured a last-second winner, so that was delightful.

What wasn't delightful was the picture quality in my living room. I don't understand why I can get crystal clear pictures via a WiFi connection on Netflix but not from a satellite feed going straight through my router, but it was ridiculously, unacceptably bad tonight - pixellated images which made it virtually impossible to tell who had scored a basket until the cameras zoomed in on the scorer after the fact, and repeated drops of the picture, including one in the final 10 seconds which luckily came early enough not to impede with my call of the winning bucket. I'm rather caught in the middle on this one: really, if my bosses saw the picture quality I was receiving, they might stop me from calling games from home at all. So what I need to do is try to find a way to work with the technical people in the Netherlands to fix things without making my producers in England aware of the magnitude of the issue. Or I could just shut up and ensure I get my paychecks even if the quality of my work - which I definitely think is still as good as or better than the rest of FIBA's other play-by-play commentators - is suffering slightly. Tough one.
 
Highlights from my BCL game tonight between Falco Szombathely (HUN) and Happy Casa Brindisi (ITA):

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5aczofiTgwM

As I'd mentioned in the Kobe thread, there was a minute's silence before the game, which I preceded with a bit of a soliloquy about Bryant's legacy, including a reference to "the rape case" and the dark side of Kobe's past but also talking about who he had become, his Oscar win, his childhood in Italy, and so on; I think I went slightly further on the negative side than I was comfortable with, but probably in a good way. Then the game began, and after winning the opening tip Brindisi took a voluntary 24-second violation, followed by Falco with a voluntary 8-second backcourt violation; you can actually see those at the start of the highlights package. I stuttered slightly over the Gregg Popovich/Spurs reference as I tried to recall where it had happened first, but I was pleased to have been on the ball and in the know enough to add that sort of color.

It was a pretty incident-packed game after that: both teams had double-digit leads which disappeared in time for the scores to be even going into the fourth quarter, in which Falco had a terrible offensive possession in which they were forced to heave up a three-pointer at the shot clock buzzer that went in, prompting a "That's Trae Young country!" reference from that I just couldn't help but make. It was a physical game in which Brindisi's Dominique Sutton got ejected for a flagrant foul (well, a "disqualifying foul", although the American terminology sounds much better to me), and the referees started to lose control of proceedings...to the point at which Brindisi called a timeout and suddenly there were stewards remonstrating with Brindisi players, and fans getting dangerously close to the Brindisi bench, and one or two Brindisi players very close to breaching the lines of stewards and instigating contact with the fans, and suddenly I was making a "Malice at the Palace" reference. It's amazing when you're in that situation as a commentator, leaning on knowledge you absolutely think you know, at how easily you can doubt yourself: I went back to explain to anyone who might not remember it that the "Malice at the Palace" involved Ron Artest at a Pacers-Pistons game, and suddenly I wondered if it was the Pacers and the Pistons, and did Ron Artest play for the Pacers, and were Artest and Metta World Peace the same person, and thank goodness all of my doubts flooded in during a timeout in which the Brindisi bench was miked up and I didn't have to say anything.

I only had a three-minute halftime break today - which is all I'm supposed to get, because I'm supposed to talk through the first half highlights right into a "Top 10 Plays of the BCL Week" feature and then come straight out of that talking again. And while I did go to the bathroom during my break, by late in the third quarter I needed to go again. So when Szombathely took a timeout and their (foul-mouthed) coach was miked up, I hesitated briefly and made a quick dash out of my living room into the hallway toilet: I'd never have dreamed of doing that in a normal studio setting, let alone in an arena, but at home I was able to make it back with a good 5-10 seconds to spare - enough to be able comment on the coach's indecisiveness in setting assignments during his team's next defensive possession.

Anyway, Falco pulled away late to win by 10, but both clubs got knocked out of contention for the knockout stage because Besiktas won their game - I was giving score updates from Turkey constantly during my game, but that game hadn't quite ended when we went to the up-to-the-minute group standings at the end of the broadcast. I knew from my running order I had 5 seconds to sign off after the standings graphic disappeared from my screen, but the Hungarian director pulled the plug after what I'm sure was only 2-3 seconds, leaving me to fumble a goodbye over the outro graphics package - a sour end to what in general I thought was a very solid commentary performance.
 
Tomorrow I travel to the Czech Republic for the Champions Hockey League Final, which takes place on Tuesday night in Hradec Kralove between Mountfield HK (CZE) and Frölunda (SWE). This is the one event every year where I really feel like a top-level commentator - not just because I actually get to travel to the game instead of calling it off of a monitor, and because my favorite-ever broadcast I've done in any sport was last year's Final (partly because I was there in person)...

View: https://vimeo.com/316070408

...and because I'm paid a rate for my work which is much closer to what I imagined commentators were paid when I was younger, but also because I'm treated like a critical part of a big production. When I land in Prague tomorrow evening, a driver will be waiting to shuttle me to Hradec Kralove (c. 90 minutes away by car), and my hotel and press credentials have been sorted out for me, and I'll attend the morning skate for both teams and have a production meeting, and there will be quite a few people associated with the Final who will know who I am. Not just media contacts, either; I was actually really pleased last year in Gothenburg when both Frölunda's head coach (Roger Rönnberg) and star player (the American Ryan Lasch) greeted me with an air of familiarity. They've seen and talked to me at all three of the Finals they've won, so maybe that's why?

Strangely, instead of staying after the Final in the city of Hradec Kralove - population just under 100,000 - I'll be getting on a bus with a bunch of other CHL VIPs back to Prague to stay at a hotel in the capital. So I'm going to have to check out of my hotel on Tuesday morning and bring all of my stuff to the arena, which is a bit of a worry; at least it's only a 10-minute walk from the hotel, and I'm looking forward to having an unexpected morning to wander around Prague, insofar as I was expecting to wake up in Hradec Kralove on Wednesday and have to make my own way by train or bus back to the airport. Anyway, I'll have more to say about the Final and my trip in due course, I'm sure!
 

thehitcat

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That sounds like a fun trip. Hope you have a tight game and an excellent call. Can't wait to hear about it when you're back.
 

tmracht

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Wow congrats that seems like an amazing opportunity! I may have missed it is this being broadcast anywhere I could watch?
 
Wow congrats that seems like an amazing opportunity! I may have missed it is this being broadcast anywhere I could watch?
I believe my broadcast will be on the NHL Network (unless they use their own commentator instead of my world feed); it will definitely be on the page for the game on the official Champions Hockey League website, although that might be geo-blocked (but would definitely be accessible with a VPN). Opening faceoff is 1:45 p.m. ET, by the way.

Incidentally, this is now the fifth CHL Final I'm commentating on in person...which means yesterday was the fifth Super Bowl I struggled to watch live in real time. With most of them I've watched the first half, tried to get to sleep and figured out how to watch the rest the next day; famously, or infamously, I stayed up to watch Super Bowl LI and was so distressed by the Falcons collapse that I pulled an all-nighter and went straight to the airport around 5 in the morning. (Last night I managed to get some sleep and watch the second half on fast-forward before leaving for the airport this morning.) I'd really like to watch the whole game live, no matter what time, but duty calls!
 

tmracht

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Awesome I'll DVR the NHL Network broadcast just in case :D
 

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Could really hear the excitement in your voice throughout that highlights package, although I'm not sure how many viewers got the term "on the warpath" at 4:10 :)

It's also funny to see a Seidenberg playing defense again, even though it's Dennis' brother.
 

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Next up: talking about them "taking another scalp" after a win, or that a game where they got outworked around the ice that they were "sent on a deathmarch".

Your southerner is showing :p Won't get you in trouble in Europe, but over here that remark might well result in a forced apology. I hope for your sake a US-based producer doesn't hear it.

edit: and for the record I don't think it makes you a bad person.
 
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Next up: talking about them "taking another scalp" after a win, or that a game where they got outworked around the ice that they were "sent on a deathmarch".

Your southerner is showing :p Won't get you in trouble in Europe, but over here that remark might well result in a forced apology. I hope for your sake a US-based producer doesn't hear it.

edit: and for the record I don't think it makes you a bad person.
Well, as the Good Book says, all men have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God...

So, I've been mulling this over all evening, suddenly feeling rather queasy about what I'd thought was my finest commentary hour (or two-and-a-half hours, anyway). I've long felt jittery about Frölunda's nickname and especially logo, and I've posted to that effect before in this thread. But at this same time, I've always thought it natural to use positive descriptive language that links to any team's nickname when I can do so without sounding cheesy. Clearly "sent on a death march" would be way over the line of good taste, and of course many people feel the same way about the Washington "Redskins", but are there any phrases and imagery relating to Native Americans that wouldn't come across as offensive to someone? The obvious choice would be to take no chances and not go anywhere near there, and that's the choice I'm henceforth going to take, but "on the warpath" seems fairly anodyne to me in the context of a sports world in which two teams can "go to war" with one another.
 
Anyway, I'm at the arena now, fully 5 hours before going on the air, mainly because I've got nothing else to do and no hotel room to go back to. I went to the morning skate, got a bunch of interviews, wandered a bit around the park at the confluence of the Elbe and Orlice Rivers - if tonight goes badly, I might well say "Able was I, ere I saw Elbe" - and had lunch at the same restaurant at which I had dinner last night. The Old Town was nice to stroll around for a short while, but it's cold and gray and spitting with rain outside, so I've decided to just park myself here and start thinking about the game.

The Frölunda traveling party and the referees are staying at my hotel here in Hradec Kralove until tomorrow morning - I went back to pick up my suitcase from the hotel after lunch, and several of their players were milling around the lobby. It was not the most comfortable room I've ever stayed in; I couldn't figure out how to turn the heating off or down, and the bed I slept on was very hard (befitting the hotel's former life as a military barracks). It was quite weird being at breakfast and finding myself surrounded by players and coaches and trainers and other staff and basically nobody else! I didn't know anyone well enough to feel appropriate in saying hello, so I ate pretty quickly and got out of there.

For all of the research I did before today, I was embarrassed to discover that Mountfield has two coaches now, not the one coach I thought they had. Tomáš Martinec started the season as their head coach and has remained, but in November - unbeknownst to me - they hired none other than Boston Bruins cult hero Vladimir "Rosie" Růžička, who was with the B's when I arrived in Cambridge as a freshman back in 1992, as a second head coach. I tried to interview both coaches, but Růžička still speaks no English and Martinec speaks very little, so I spoke instead with their assistant coach Petr Svoboda. (Not the Petr Svoboda you're probably thinking of, but instead the Petr Svoboda who played 18 NHL games with the Maple Leafs in 2000-01 and retired not long thereafter.) He spoke very good English, at least.

The other particularly interesting interview I had was with Frölunda's Rhett Rakhshani, who I'd thought was a dual Iranian-American citizen - because that's how he's listed on eliteprospects.com - but who it turns out has an Iranian grandfather but not citizenship. At one point he was approached by the Iranian hockey federation about possibly playing for their national team (such as it is), and he looked into it but stopped as soon as he realized he'd need to get a passport. I love that both Rakhshani and his teammate Ryan Lasch, the CHL's two leading scorers this season, both asked me how I was doing and seemed to regard me as an actual human being, not just a member of the media; hockey players are pretty great that way, in my experience.
 
Oh, I should also note that my commentary position tonight is a bit weird. I'm at the back of the arena, close to center ice but beneath what passes for hospitality boxes within the ČPP Arena; if I sit down, behind a table which is at knee height when I'm sitting, a stanchion and another railing blocks my view of the goal to my left, whereas if I stand, I can't see the top of the scoreboard, and the monitor that's been set up for me will be at a horribly bad angle. I'll probably stand, flip the monitor on its side and look straight down at it, but I wish I were with Czech or Swedish TV, below me and with unobstructed sightlines. This is always the way, though...I tend to get the short end of the stick in this regard at the CHL Final.
 

tmracht

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Oh, I should also note that my commentary position tonight is a bit weird. I'm at the back of the arena, close to center ice but beneath what passes for hospitality boxes within the ČPP Arena; if I sit down, behind a table which is at knee height when I'm sitting, a stanchion and another railing blocks my view of the goal to my left, whereas if I stand, I can't see the top of the scoreboard, and the monitor that's been set up for me will be at a horribly bad angle. I'll probably stand, flip the monitor on its side and look straight down at it, but I wish I were with Czech or Swedish TV, below me and with unobstructed sightlines. This is always the way, though...I tend to get the short end of the stick in this regard at the CHL Final.
Oh man that sounds like a recipe for a sore neck tomorrow. Hope it's an entertaining game!
 
Some quick highlights from the Final:

View: https://youtu.be/oZjO_-2QV80


View: https://youtu.be/GiSuLxigs_w

All four goals scored in the first period - and for the second year in a row, Frolunda wins the final 3-1. Mountfield was just outclassed; it was *incredible* in the arena when they scored, but after that Frolunda just turned the screw until Mountfield collapsed under the pressure. A shame, really, but the crowd was great throughout.

I'm now on a very crowded VIP bus heading (very slowly) back to Prague. Gonna be a long night...I thought the broadcast was generally pretty good, with a few glitches but no huge slipups; I stayed on too long at the very end of the broadcast and leaked my signoff into the 3rd period highlights, but I'd be very surprised if any network was still carrying the feed at that point, so not a big deal. Not as good as last year's Final; but then, I didn't say "on the warpath" tonight, so that's a plus?