For those of us who love language as well as hockey, the Stanley Cup playoffs bring a tricky question: Can we overlook the rampant abuse of words that goes on every spring?
I’m not talking about how foreign-born players mangle English (or, occasionally, French). Alex Kovalev’s English is far better than my Russian. I’m talking about broadcasters who are paid serious amounts of money, not just for their knowledge of the sport, but for their ability to talk.
Pierre McGuire, for instance. As a former coach, he has a keen eye for the contributions that coaches make during a game. On TSN last week, he got so excited about a decision by the coach of the Colorado Avalanche that he blurted out: “Joel Quenneville impacted this game huge!”
I’m not thrilled about the growth of “impact” as a verb, but I suspect it’s here to stay. My real issue with McGuire is his use of the adjective “huge” as though it were an adverb.
Sports commentators in general seem less and less willing to give an adverb its customary “-ly” ending. Is it felt to sound too effete, too unmanly? Maybe the teenage boys and young men who form the core audience for hockey telecasts prefer words that rush at them like a series of punches. Or maybe that’s just what the broadcasters think.