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Fighting Through The Screen - OCT.29.07

Sunny Dhillon


<table><td><img src="http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/sunny_blog.jpg" align="left" hspace="4">I guess it turns out FOX was just ahead of its time.

In 1996, the network, which then carried NHL action in the US, introduced a glowing puck for its television broadcasts. Called “FoxTrax” by company executives and “What the hell is that?” by everyone else, the puck emitted a blue on-screen glow when it was controlled and a red streak when it was shot faster than 70 miles per hour.

The idea came about because the central complaint of American viewers, even more common than “There aren’t enough flaming car crashes in this sport,” was that the puck was too hard too follow. If it glowed, the argument went, more viewers would not only tune in, but more importantly, would stay tuned in.

Of course, FoxTrax was a terrific failure (think: Sega Dreamcast, the XFL, and Nick Carter’s solo career). While FOX received positive feedback from some new viewers, hockey purists denounced the dumbing down of the coolest game on earth. FoxTrax died in 1998.

<a href="http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/10/102607_caps08_b.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/10/102607_caps08_t.jpg" align="right" border="0" hspace="4" vspace="1"></a>

I myself didn’t really care for the feature. Which is why I find it extremely ironic that I’m now wishing someone would bring FoxTrax back.

You see, I, like many others out there, have been spoiled by high definition television. I simply can’t watch a TV program that isn’t in HD. I spend more time thinking about how bad the program looks than paying attention to what’s going on.

Take Friday night’s non-HD game in which the Canucks battled the Washington Capitals, for example.

I simply could not find the puck because it seemed like someone had smeared Vaseline onto my television screen. I felt like Roberto Luongo out there, ducking my head left and then right, trying to peek around the screen to see where the puck was. Non-HD TV was my Chris Clark.

The Canucks won the game 3-2, though I only know that because of Jim Hughson’s commentary. My own two eyes failed me. I think the Capitals put on a late charge and almost tied the game in the final minute, led by Alexander Ovechkin. But without HD, it’s hard to read the name on the back of the jersey. It might very well have been Dmitri Khristich wreaking havoc out there.

<a href="http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/10/102607_caps06_b.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/10/102607_caps06_t.jpg" align="left" border="0" hspace="4" vspace="1"></a>

I envy those who’ve never seen a game in HD. I wish I could go back to the days when my simple little analog television was all I needed to enjoy 60 minutes of hard-hitting action.

But high definition has ruined me. It’s left me completely unable to follow the action in a non-HD game. I need FoxTrax just so I can again figure out what’s happening on the ice.

Bring back FoxTrax.




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