Anyone who tuned into KSTC's telecast of the Wild playoff game Monday night at Colorado likely came away believing Marc Joannette and Tim Peel are among the NHL's most incompetent referees.
How could viewers have any other impression after listening to Wild play-by-play man Dan Terhaar and analyst Mike Greenlay? The latter spent far too much time criticizing the officials and the former did nothing to rein him in during the Wild's 3-2 overtime victory.
Greenlay's criticism reached its peak in the second period. "The Wild are not getting calls in this game," he said four minutes in. "I guess home-ice advantage means more than just having fans yell for you."
When the Wild's Marian Gaborik was called for hooking at 5:31, Greenlay said: "It's like the referees can only see one team out there right now. ... There are two teams out there, and they are only calling it one way."
It didn't end there, although Greenlay did seem to let up a bit.
Nonetheless, from the tone of his comments you would have thought the Avalanche ended up with a significant advantage in power plays. The reality: The Avs had six power plays and the Wild four.
This was a game that needed Greenlay's analysis of the players, not the referees.
Unfortunately, disgust with the officiating didn't end after Game 3. During the Wild's 5-1 loss at Colorado on FSN North the following night, Terhaar got into the act after Aaron Voros received a well-deserved misconduct for trying to get involved in a fight between the Wild's Stephane Veilleux and the Avs' Ian Laperriere.
"I don't even get that one," Terhaar said.
Given that comment it wasn't surprising Terhaar and Greenlay steered clear of discussing how the Wild attempted to turn the third period into a goon show.
It would be unrealistic to think Terhaar and Greenlay aren't going to be pulling for the Wild -- they are paid by the team and are catering to an audience made up of Wild fans -- but spending time venting about the officiating doesn't strike at least one viewer as a quality use of playoff air time.
Television viewers largely ignored the woeful Timberwolves (22-60) this season.
According to preliminary numbers from Nielsen Media, KSTC finished with a 0.9 rating and 1.7 share for 34 telecasts -- down 61 percent from last season (2.3 and 4) -- and FSN North had a 0.9 rating and 1.5 share for 35 games -- down 36 percent (1.4 and 3) from 2006-07.
Translated into households, KSTC and FSN averaged 15,360 viewers for their Wolves telecasts. That is nearly 4,000 fewer than the listed capacity of Target Center.
The NBA as a whole continued to be a tough sell in this market. ESPN's regular-season telecasts finished with a 0.45 rating, placing the Twin Cities last of the 56 metered markets in the United States.
• It will be interesting to see if the Wolves remain with radio partner BOB 106 FM in 2008-09. The team also had its games added to KGBY (107.5 FM) this season in an attempt to increase its coverage area, but the three-year deal the franchise signed in June 2006 provides a window for it to opt out of the deal after each season.
• Leo Mazzone, the former pitching coach for the Atlanta Braves and Baltimore Orioles, will serve as an analyst for select Fox games this season, beginning with the Twins-Cleveland matchup at 2:55 p.m. Saturday. Matt Vasgersian will call the game, which will air on local Fox affiliate KMSP (Ch. 9).
• A legitimate gripe: Not only are the Wild's first-round games on Versus blacked out, but so is the high definition version of the telecast. This is especially frustrating to owners of HD sets when KSTC (Ch. 45) is carrying the games. The Hubbard-owned station doesn't have an HD channel but is hoping to have one launched by next fall.
• FSN's "Amazing Sports Stories" will feature the fascinating story on the life of Minneapolis heavyweight boxer Billy Miske at 8 p.m. Sunday.
• Former Baltimore coach and Vikings offensive coordinator Brian Billick will be part of the NFL Network's draft coverage. Billick is being considered for a game analyst job by Fox and CBS.