Marv Albert has done a few NHL All-Star Games -- tomorrow (1 p.m.) will be his third for NBC, then there's TV syndication and radio. And, quite frankly, he thinks it's time for a change, which, of course, is not in the league's vocabulary.
"Let's face it, hockey is a sport based on contact and aggressiveness and it's just not there in this game," says the "yesssss" man who has announced every sport but archery and cresta blanca since taking up residence in front of the microphone at age 8.
"Everybody enjoys seeing the Gretzkys and so on, both live and on TV, but I think they'd like it even more if there was a more competitive spirit included. Without the spirit, there's really no reason why one conference or the other would want to win. I mean, the players know fans aren't down at the corner drug store arguing which is better, the Wales or the Campbell Conference."
Albert would like to see the size of the squads increased to as many as five lines, asking, "What's the difference? Run guys in and out of there, cutting down the chance of injuries, and let the guys take the body. Just don't have it get to the point where guys begin fighting."
Back in the early days of the game and for several years (20), an all-star team used to be pitted against the defending Stanley Cup champion. "This put incentive into the game because the stars wanted to knock off the champions and, of course, the champs wanted to prove they were truly the best."
For the time being at least, the winning team will continue to score about nine goals, the loser seven and people will continue to wonder why defensemen and goalies bothered to show up.
* Hard to believe it was really a surprise Bill Walsh took the Stanford coaching job after he said he had talked to Denver Broncos backup quarterback Gary Kubiak about joining the Cardinal staff during the Broncos-Buffalo Bills AFC championship on NBC last Sunday.
* Here's a breakthrough. Sherry Ross, former hockey beat writer for a couple of papers, just took on the job of analyst on radio broadcasts of New Jersey Devils games. Meanwhile, the Yankees went the print media route, too, naming ex-baseball writer Michael Kay to replace Joe Angel in the booth next to John Sterling.
Meanwhile, a candidate for the Yankees job, Ernie Harwell, checks in at CBS Radio, handling the network's lead 26-game package the next two seasons.
* Well-conditioned fighters who know the whole game of boxing (defense, etc.) should make for an interesting evening of fisticuffs on HBO tomorrow (10 p.m.): Meldrick Taylor (28-1) puts his WBA welterweight title on the line against Glenwood Brown (34-2) and Pernell Whitaker (27-1) takes on Harold Brazier (78-10).
* Once I rushed past the big 5-O, barely stopping to notice, I became a fan of the old heads in the TV booth, the people with a practiced eye and invaluable experience. A couple of hours of Dick Button and Peggy Fleming, experting on figure skating for ABC, can put great strain on that position, however.
Unfortunately, Peggy, great lady that she is, hasn't said anything worth noting or repeating for at least 15 years. And Dick, he has spent the last several years raising being bitchy to an art form. "Ordinary, boring, slow, conservative and sedate" is the way Button described Christopher Bowman's efforts while he was winning the national championship.
* We haven't heard the term "Hoya Paranoia" in a while, but coach John Thompson confirms it exists and is flourishing at Georgetown. Thompson took the occasion, in a story on the death of popular Washington sportscaster Glenn Brenner, to
preach that Glenn's remarks were issued in a "humorous vein, unlike other reporters who feel that to be good they have to be critical." Good timing, John.
* Hopefully, Jeff "No Call" Rimer will take a step back and review his recent work as the voice of the Washington Capitals on Home Team Sports. His constant complaints about NHL officiating, especially as it pertains to alleged atrocities being perpetrated on the Caps with no resulting penalty calls, is sickening. It isn't long before analyst Craig Laughlin joins in leading the pair to be nicknamed "Moan and Groan."
* The way he has been kissing up to both radio and television lately, is there any doubt ol' Willie Boy (Gov. William Donald Schaefer) envisions a broadcast career down the road?
* SportsChannel America has the NHL "All-Star Friday" festivities from Philadelphia this evening (7). The old-timers' game pits the "Flyers Heroes" against the "NHL Heroes" and with Dave Schultz, Ed Hospodar, Moose DuPont and Bob Kelly skating for Philly, chances for some brawling are far from remote.
* Perhaps just as bad as the avalanche of Super Bowl hype perilously heading our way is the Joe Gibbs' Interstate battery commercial which, it seems, has been running non-stop for a month already.