It's rare that the exit of a local broadcaster -- especially not a main play-by-play or color man -- sparks up controversy, but the Red Wings' regional television partner, Fox Sports Detroit, has done just that this weekend.
The Fox Sports affiliate fired analyst Larry Murphy last week. Murphy was used as a jack of all trades for the network's Red Wings coverage. He worked in the studio, as well as the "inside the glass" position, and he filled in for beloved color analyst Mickey Redmond on west coast road trips. He was about to work one such trip when he was told he was being fired, according to Ansar Khan of MLive.com's story.
"I was shocked, didn't see it coming,'' Murphy told MLive.com. "They said they just needed a change, ratings weren't what they were. That was basically it (for an explanation).
"I'm still trying to figure it out.''
Hammaren did not return a call from MLive.com seeking comment.
Murphy said he was scheduled to work the studio for the game at Calgary last Wednesday when he got a call "out of the blue'' from Hammaren the day before telling him he was terminated. He also had been slated to work in the broadcast booth during the four-game road trip that started Friday in Anaheim. But now Mickey Redmond is on the trip.
Certainly, the story seems fishy for a couple of reasons. One of the factors is that, no matter what is said here, broadcasters do not affect ratings in any way, shape or form on a local level. Perhaps on a national scale, where someone like Mike Milbury's opinions may force you to watch or compel you to not watch. But this is regional sports television. The ratings are dictated by how the team is doing and the fans' passion for the team.
Secondly, even if that were the case, wouldn't you fire Ken Daniels or Mickey Redmond, the two fine broadcasters who regularly work Red Wings telecasts? Why is Murphy, who had only a supporting role with FS Detroit, taking the blame for a "ratings" slip? It's all very fishy.
The Red Wings telecasts will apparently remain with Daniels and Redmond. FS Detroit also has former VERSUS commentator Darren Eliot on hand as a studio analyst.