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Top 10 | Descriptor-analyst duos on TV

by archysport

Let us say at the outset that the vast majority of descriptors and analysts on the small screen do a good job, whether in Quebec or elsewhere. I have a lot of admiration for the people who do this job and who are able to react so quickly to what is happening in front of them by finding the right words. Not easy… Since I have always watched sports on TV in both English and French, I cut the pear in half by opting for five French-speaking duets and five English-speaking ones. So here is my top 10 descriptor-analyst duos on television.


Miguel Bujold

Miguel Bujold
The press

10. Jacques Doucet and Rodger Brulotte (TVA Sports)

PHOTO ROBERT MAILLOUX, ARCHIVES THE PRESS

Jacques Doucet and Rodger Brulotte, in July 1988

Impossible to draw up such a ranking without these two legendary voices from Quebec. At the time, some Expos games weren’t televised. When they were in a championship race (before crashing from mid-August most of the time …), I listened to Expos matches on the radio. Jacques Doucet was the descriptor. What great memories, even if the Expos have so often disappointed us in the home stretch. I’ve had the good fortune to run into Rodger Brulotte a few times over the years, and he’s just as likable in person as he is on screen. These two men are major baseball encyclopedias and national treasures.

9. Chris Cuthbert et Craig Simpson (Sportsnet)

PHOTO PROVIDED BY SPORTSNET

Chris Cuthbert et Craig Simpson

Chris Cuthbert has long been a major descriptor of the Canadian Football League (CFL) on TSN. He joined the Sportsnet team last year because he wanted to cover a Stanley Cup final at least once in his career. Cuthbert’s voice is peculiar and there is no better descriptor than him in English Canada, if you ask me. Craig Simpson isn’t the most colorful analyst, but he’s very consistent from match to match and always very objective, which not all analysts are – far from it. Without being flamboyant, this combination is solid for National Hockey League (NHL) games, whether it’s Saturday night during the season or during the playoffs.

8. Joe Buck et John Smoltz (FOX)

PHOTO PROVIDED BY FOX

Joe Buck et John Smoltz

Joe Buck is one of the few descriptors who excel in more than one sport, describing Major League Baseball and National Football League (NFL) games for the FOX Network. Another descriptor that stands out for its versatility is the excellent Denis Casavant from TVA Sports. Who says versatility does not necessarily mean generalist, nuance … Buck and Casavant do not only describe the action, they master their sports. There is always a quiet intensity in October baseball, and Buck and former Atlanta Braves ace John Smoltz manage to convey that to their audience well.

7. Jack Edwards et Andy Brickley (NESN)

PHOTO PROVIDED BY NESN

Jack Edwards et Andy Brickley

Either we love Jack Edwards and Andy Brickley, or we just can’t hurt them. Both men are so objective when they comment on Boston Bruins games that it is downright funny. The Sportsnet network regularly broadcasts Bruins games and most of the time it is the NESN story that is featured. Over time, I’ve grown to appreciate Edwards and Brickley’s style, although their Bruins-themed petticoats don’t just hang out, they touch the ground. You never get bored with them.

6. Frédéric Lord and Vincent Destouches (TVA Sports)

PHOTO PROVIDED BY TVA SPORTS

Frédéric Lord and Vincent Destouches

Once every two years, I stuff myself with soccer for a month. I watch the Euro and the World Cup, you guessed it. Last summer, it was the turn of the Euro, and I was very impressed by the work (and endurance …) of Frédéric Lord and Vincent Destouches who, if I am not mistaken, described and commented all matches in the tournament, from first to last. Their passion for the round ball, their knowledge of soccer in general, as well as their ability to avoid clichés, made their reports more enjoyable to listen to.

5. Pierre Houde and Marc Denis (RDS)

PHOTO BERNARD BRAULT, PRESS ARCHIVES

Pierre Houde and Marc Denis

Pierre Houde has of course been the voice of CH on television for decades and continues to stand out for his knowledge of the NHL, the quality of his French and his emotion, always well balanced. As for him, Marc Denis was already good when he arrived at the Sports Network, to such an extent that I suspect he was practicing commenting on hockey games since childhood … Not only the two men form the best duo in Quebec, they are as good as any other in North America when it comes to the NHL.

4. David Arsenault and Pierre Vercheval (RDS)

PHOTO PROVIDED BY RDS

David Arsenault and Pierre Vercheval

I hesitated between the Arsenault-Vercheval combination and that of Houde-Denis, but I decided to preach for my parish … But since I am often present at the stadium during Alouettes games and I watch the NFL a lot on American channels, must I admit, I can only see the work of the RDS team as often as I would like. That being said, David Arsenault is more and more comfortable with description and has an almost sickly rigor, while Pierre Vercheval is always interesting and relevant. In fact, the whole RDS football team is solid thanks to this duo, Matthieu Proulx, Bruno Heppel, Didier Orméjuste, Danny Desriveaux and Mathieu Jolivet, in particular.

3. Yvan Ponton and Hélène Pelletier (RDS)

PHOTO PROVIDED BY RDS

Yvan Ponton and Hélène Pelletier

The Arsenault-Vercheval and Houde-Denis duos are very good, but in my opinion, the best in the Sports Network and in Quebec is the one formed by Yvan Ponton and Hélène Pelletier. And God knows they work, hours, over the course of a year, those two! Passion, knowledge of tennis, quality of French, interesting observations, complicity between them and pleasant voices to hear, this is an excellent recipe to please the audience. When you watch sports on TV almost daily, it’s great to hear a duo like Ponton and Pelletier. It rests the ears a bit.

2. Joe Buck et Troy Aikman (FOX)

PHOTO PROVIDED BY FOX

Joe Buck et Troy Aikman

I really enjoy hockey, tennis, baseball, soccer, basketball and other sports. But my favorite is of course football, and the NFL in particular. I am blessed because the quality of the football match coverage is second to none, in my opinion. It took me a while to decide between the FOX A team (Buck and Aikman) and the NBC team (Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth). Buck is the only one whose name appears twice in my top 10, and it is fully deserved. He’s never stopped improving and has found the right tone for the past five or six years. He sees everything that is going on and his touches of humor are a delight. Aikman is the kind of guy you want to talk about football with over a few drinks. Over the years, he has gained confidence behind the microphone and expresses his opinions more. And unlike another former Dallas Cowboys quarterback turned analyst, Aikman remains objective. Is it me, or does it always feel like Tony Romo wants one or the other team to win when he analyzes a match?

1. Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth (NBC)

PHOTO PROVIDED BY NBC

Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth

Joe Buck is as good as Michaels, but the latter remains the godfather of descriptors. There is no weakness in the work of Michaels, who is very familiar with football, baseball and hockey in particular. Michaels always made his analysts look good, including Collinsworth, who had the difficult task of replacing the legendary John Madden. Collinsworth did it handily. The rare times the Sunday night clash isn’t promising in the NFL, I’m still happy to be reunited with the NBC Network team to wrap up the weekend. Michaels’ studio host and reservist Mike Tirico is also very good, and there is a great dynamic within the squad, which has been counting on more and more members, including Drew Brees since this season.

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