Sorry I'm a little late regarding this topic, but I did want to get your thoughts regarding last Thursday's telecast on Sportsouth (Thrashers vs New York Islanders). That night, Thrashers analyst Darren Eliot was stationed between the team benches instead of in his normal position, the broadcast booth.
The early feedback I received was very positive. The executives at Sportsouth, along with peers from around the league, thought it worked well. It was the first time Sportsouth had tried such a set up, even though teams from around the league have been experimenting with such a configuration since the lockout.
For me, as the play-by-play guy, not much really changes. I made a conscientious attempt to lay out a little more to offer Darren ample opportunity to jump in and out of the play with his excellent analysis. It's a little different compared to having both of us in the broadcast booth at the same time. The communication is much less visual for obvious reasons.
But I think the toughest job when doing a broadcast with the analyst between the benches lies with the analyst. Eliot's view of the play was much more restricted based on the angle that he witnessed the game unfold. When you call the game from "up top", you have the benefit of watching plays develop. That's not the case from between the benches. Plus, being on the opposite side of the cameras, Darren saw all replays from the opposite perspective, which must have taken time getting used to.
If you recall, I tried to ask Darren questions about the game that were related to his proximity to the ice. One time, I asked him about shooting lanes since he had a great look at the Thrashers left point in the offensive zone for two periods. When the Islanders took the 3-1 lead, I asked him about the mood on the Atlanta bench. These are all facets of the game you don't get when both announcers are sitting up in the booth. I thought it was critical for the two of us to take advantage of our access and bring it home to the viewers like yourself.
Having worked with Eliot full-time for four seasons and occasionally this season, I've learned he's one of the best in the business. He's one of a few in the sport that can explain why a play happened instead of just regurgitating a replay. In my opinion, I thought he was dead on the other night and never missed a beat.
So what did you think? Should Sportsouth do more games with Eliot between the benches? I'd love to hear what you think.