On Thursday night, the eighth-seeded Los Angeles Kings put the Phoenix Coyotes on the brink of elimination, while moving one step closer to their first Stanley Cup Finals appearance in twenty years, winning their first home game in the Western Conference Finals series, 2-1. And what should have been an easy task of delivering good news to viewers ended up being marred by several errors. Not just your common player name mispronunciations, but blacking out on the actual logistics of the game of hockey itself.
The bad bearer of news would be Liz Habib of KTTV/Fox 11, the Fox owned and operated station in Los Angeles. She’s officially listed on the station’s website as a news anchor, but she doubles as the de facto sports anchor at the station. (Remember, we’re in an era where the sports anchor on the local news is all but a thing of the past.) And while we can’t take those two Emmys away from her, one must wonder what was on her mind when she surprisingly struggled through this update.
She started by calling the Kings “the hottest team is L.A.,” which wasn’t just your garden variety eighth-seed hyperbole – both NBA teams were down 0-2 in their respective series at the time of the update (the Dodgers are currently leading their division, but we won’t hold that against her). After a seven-second shot of actress Alyssa Milano at the Staples Center – apparently, things like that are high priority in L.A. sports updates – the highlights begin. (The first goal of the game by the Coyotes’ Daymond Langkow doesn’t qualify as a highlight on Fox 11’s air, it seems.) Down 1-0, Habib narrates the game-tying goal by a player who spent his entire career thus far with the Kings, Anže Kopitar. Either Habib does not follow Kings hockey, or she apparently missed that Kopitar was playing professional sports in L.A. since 2004 – the very year that Habib began working at KTTV.
“There’s Anze Kopidor, and he — Kopitar — he scores.”
“Kopidor”? Really? Granted, it’s not a name that easily rolls off the tongue, but surely, you must be at least a little familiar with someone who’s spent as much time in L.A. as you have, Liz.
As Fox 11 cuts to the next highlight from the third period, Habib sets it up – horribly – or shall I say, Kopidorribly: “The Kings have the ball — the ball.. the puck… Did I say that? The Kings have the puck and Dwight King scores!”
“The Kings have the ball?” Forget what I said about Habib possibly not following Kings hockey. Maybe she has no idea what hockey is. There is just no excuse to make a brutal mistake like that. Unless she thought she was still calling Lakers highlights, or maybe the person working the TelePrompTer pulled a Ron Burgundy and messed around with her.
Habib’s station bio states that she grew up in Pittsburgh, a huge hockey town, and prior to joining KTTV, she worked at a station in, ironically, Phoenix, home of the Coyotes. (The station’s calls are KTVK, while Fox 11 has them down as “KTTK” – yeah, you might want to update that.) I’m sure she has to have common knowledge of how hockey works. It’s virtually the only major sport where there are no balls involved. In other words, it’s not hockeyball. Sure, just as in basketball, you can take shots in hockey. And both sports catch the scores through nets. But that’s about where the similarities end. (Unless someone can channel George Carlin.)
And you can clearly hear Fox 11 anchor James Koh giggling through Habib’s account of the Kings’ possession of “the ball,” and he sounded as if he showed no shame in doing so. And of course, because Habib was so flustered over this gaffe, by the time she informed viewers that “Dwight King scores,” they had already seen King score the go-ahead goal. She then sucks it up and takes a good self-deprecating stab at herself. “He got a touchdown,” she said through feigned excitement. Then she followed it up with this painful admission:
“That’s just terrible.”
Hey, Habib is a Fox employee. Maybe for her benefit, they can bring back the glowing puck that the network used back when they had NHL broadcast rights.
There were but fifteen seconds left in the update, and Habib makes one more faux pas, this time involving another Kings player, Drew Doughty. Like Kopidor, er, Kopitar, his young career has been exclusively in Los Angeles, though for half as long as Kopitar.
Still, it’s an error far more inexcusable than the previous two, because not only did she mangle Doughty’s last name (think: “Doughty is rowdy“), but for good measure, she even manages to address him by a different first name, as well.
“Moments later, Shane Doan trying to tie it up for Phoenix, but watch Brad Doty. He says, not tonight…”
Maybe Habib thought former NBA player and current ESPN personality Brad Daugherty was on the ice.
Later that night, she tweeted to a viewer that she “didn’t get anything right with the Kings tonight!” Though the next day, she defended her allegiance to her local NHL franchise by telling a viewer: “I am a Kings fan – I have a Gretzky jersey – I never get Doughty’s name right – it’s DOUBT-Y!” However, she has yet to explain her bizarre mispronunciation of the name of Doughty’s teammate, or how the Kings “had the ball” during the game.
With highlights of the Kings victory comes, mercifully, the end of the sports segment – which was signaled by the display of a defunct NHL logo… Has KTTV really been using it in their sports highlight packages this long? Come on now.
Anyhow, the end of the sports segment on Thursday night couldn’t come any sooner for Liz Habib, who instructed her colleague: “James, save me from myself!”
Hey, Liz? You might want to ask YouTube to save you from yourself. It was that bad.
Or she might ask to be saved from the Photoshops that are making the rounds on the Internets in Habib’s honor.
By the way: hat tip (or “stick tap,” if you prefer) to the “Puck Daddy” himself, Greg Wyshynski, for this gem – though I take to task his citing the source of the segment as “Fox News,” a politically-oriented cable news network that is a far cry from the news department of a Fox O&O in L.A.
But as Wysh says to me, “Me thinks we are fair and balanced when it comes to descriptors.”
Hey, who am I to argue with “Puck Daddy,” right?