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Duff Has Tools To Inherit Lorentz’s Long-Vacant Role

02/25/12
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Color man, host, AND interview skills? Photo credit: Buffalo Sabres

Since Jim Lorentz’ retirement during the summer of 2007, the Buffalo Sabres have struggled to find a suitable replacement for the role of color commentator. Harry Neale is clearly at the tail end of his career, Mike Robitaille is better suited for Don Cherry-minus-offensiveness rants (even if he only did a few games at most), and Danny Gare is a cross between a Boston or Pittsburgh broadcaster and one of Dave Seville’s chipmunks. I think Paul Hamilton maybe did a game or two – he should stick to doing post-game reports. Enter the man who resembles a real-world Guy Smiley – Brian Duff.


(tl;dnr version – Neale is old, Gare is an embarrassing homer, Roby and Hamilton had short stints for a reason, Duff is awesome)

For those of you unfamiliar with Brian Duff, his NHL Network biography:

Duff has been involved in sports broadcasting for more than 15 years, with a strong focus on hockey. The veteran broadcaster can be seen nightly during the NHL season on NHL On The Fly.

Prior to joining NHL Network, Duff spent six years as the pre- and post-game host for Toronto Maple Leafs hockey on Leafs TV. His extensive hockey broadcasting career also includes stints as the radio host for pre- and post-game coverage of the Ottawa Senators and Edmonton Oilers and radio game analyst for the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers.

In addition, Duff worked at The Score as an anchor and reporter and provided play-by-play for Ottawa Rebel lacrosse and the Mann Cup. Duff has also freelanced for key U.S.-based media outlets including ESPN and Associated Press.

Duff, who grew up in Whitby, Ont., holds a Broadcasting Diploma from Mount Royal College in Calgary.

What isn’t included is his short stint as Versus’ play-by-play man for NLL lacrosse and his current jack-of-all-trades gig with the Sabres, or that he’s on Twitter as @dufferNHLN.

Now, why is Brian Duff the heir apparent to Jim Lorentz’s color commentator crown? Because with Neale on his way out seemingly soon and Gare exhibiting all the objectiveness of a Steigerwald, Brickley, or Laughlin, Duff has the professionalism and knowledge to play sidekick to whoever the Sabres anoint as Rick Jeanneret’s replacement. His random and timely statbits during action and analysis of plays are sharp, and he doesn’t squeal or grunt when things go against the Sabres. Criticized by some fans as boring (which I can certainly see. He may not be everyone’s cup of tea), he’s the perfect straight man in a broadcasting duo to the excitable play-by-play guy.

It’s not out of the question to question Jeanneret and Neale’s longevity and the current 2nd stringers (Kevin Sylvester and Gare) are not exactly securing their roles as the next generation. It’s just wishful thinking on the part of your humble author, but Brian Duff would be an awesome full-time replacement for Harry Neale and the best to handle the job since Lorentz left the job to go on all the fishing trips.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. 02/26/12 12:12 PM

    By ‘some,’ you mean me, haha. I think Duff could fit in with the right group, but yes, I do find him boring and completely devoid of personality. He’s the kind of guy I’d like to see as part of a national broadcast team, not a local one.

    I do agree on Gare though, he is pretty awful. It seems like he starts talking a lot without a full idea of what he wants to say, and others he just interjects random words.

    I really like Sylvester though, he has an oddball sense of humor that really appeals to me even if he does occasionally have the homerism of some schmuck in the 300s eight beers in.

  2. rexachss permalink
    02/27/12 6:59 AM

    I wanted to post about Gare during the Rangers game echoing the statements made in this article…loved him as a player…lost as an analysts …not even close …sorry Danny!

  3. Alison permalink
    02/03/13 4:58 PM

    Couldn’t disagree more. Kevin Sylvester was fine in the position and I bet if you asked most fans they would agree. Heard Duff for the first time last week and after 5 minutes asked my dad “Who is this d#ck?”. That he worked for Versus says it all. All of they’re commentators, on-air personalities were garbage and couldn’t call a hockey game if it was pre-recorded and given to them for practice. Since Kevin Sylvester was around for 7 years obviously he did a fine job. Wonder who Mr. Duff knows or is married to to get this job with the Sabres?

    • 02/03/13 5:48 PM

      The issue with your comment is a fundamental lack of understanding the difference between play by play, which Kevin Sylvester has filled in at, and color commentary, which Sylvester has not. Also, Brian Duff has not worked for Versus, but a dearth of reading comprehension would explain that error.

    • David permalink
      02/03/13 5:48 PM

      As Alison says, “Take that tootoo!”

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