I didn't watch the National Hockey League's annual awards show, broadcast live from Las Vegas, on Wednesday night. This is for two important reasons.
1. My eye sockets can only take so much gouging.
2. Awards shows are best viewed via Twitter snark.
You see, in this fancy modern age of social media and whatnots ("Whatnots," of course, being the new robots programmed to love and eventually kill us) you don't need to watch a bad, hacky awards show ever again. Simply follow a bunch of people in the know on Twitter, take a look at their tweets to see who won, and if anything actually notable happens (a rarity) you can just watch it on YouTube in a couple of hours.
Within an hour of their broadcast, I had already seen the only two portions of the show worth watching: Will Arnett's game roasting of Brendan Shanahan, and Tracy Morgan still managing to be funny despite sticking to a script (which you should never do with Tracy Morgan) in a "24/7" parody. Before they were even announced on television, I had found out who won any of the trophies I cared about. The rest of it ... well, the rest of the thing was just one disaster after another.
Aside from Ray Liotta getting in a jab at Tim Thomas, almost every presenter was wasted. Ridiculously funny human being and "Happy Endings" star Adam Pally, along with Charlie Conway himself -- Joshua Jackson -- were particularly hung out to dry by whomever wrote this. There was no host this year, which was fine, as Jay Mohr was never a world-beater and doesn't really know much about hockey anyway, and it's not as if were going back to Ron MacLean's cutesy one-liners from years ago.
We're left with an awards show that takes up two hours of our lives and isn't funny or surprising, and doesn't even seem to elicit any genuine emotion in its winners. Only Evgeni Malkin had an acceptance speech I would call sort of memorable. The players seem to be having fun, but they're out of their element. Vegas doesn't mesh with the typical hockey personality, and nobody watches to boot. Last year's ceremony drew 279,000 viewers. Forty-eight regular-season NHL games on NBC Sports Network this season drew higher audiences. And that was up 35 percent from the previous year! Hell, in Canada, due to time zone restrictions, CBC doesn't even air the ceremony live! In Canada!
The question we have to ask is: Why are we even bothering anymore? Every year, people get more and more cynical, and every year people suggest ways to fix the show. The NHL has tried year after year to improve things, to make it funnier, or at least more fun to watch. They've tried giving it glitz and glamour, and even a little bit of a party atmosphere. Nothing works. Sure, you could try and overhaul the NHL Awards, but why even waste your time?
Here's an idea: Just make the NHL Awards similar to the draft lottery or the trade deadline. Have an hour-long show, hosted by NBC Sports Network or TSN or some kind of split, and just announce the winners and do live, one-on-one interviews in lieu of acceptance speeches. James Duthie or Liam McHugh could probably get a better reaction out of an athlete in a studio than whomever the athletes are getting to write their acceptance speeches. You could have a little fun banter, show clips from the best moments of the year and, best of all, not embarrass any celebrities.
To maintain the event's status as a place for sponsors to hobnob, you hold parties in Toronto (where TSN is located) to let everyone rub elbows and network on the day (and night) of the taping. What you end up with is a more professionable, tolerable, manageable (seriously, two freaking hours?) awards "presentation." This is not an awards "show." You are not here to be entertained. Nickelback is not coming out to blow out your ear drums, yet somehow still bore you to tears. We are here to give athletes some trophies and rub elbows with rich people afterward. That's it. Let's go home.
Will this ever happen? Probably not. The NHL has signed a multi-year deal with the city of Las Vegas to keep the awards show there through 2014. You know the league likes having this -- along with the draft -- as a year-end celebration. But really, when no one watching can bear to say anything positive about the broadcast -- nor should they -- is this really worth it to the league, its fans or its players anymore? There's certainly a strong case on tape from Wednesday night that it isn't. Not that anyone would ever want to watch it again.