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