Yes, WFAN ignores hockey and especially the Devils. Fat Mike Francesa, the egomaniac, knows nothing about hockey, and he hates it. So we get basketball up the wazoo.
What Mushnick says below about Art Rust Jr is SO true, and so funny. All Rust knew was baseball and boxing!
SEE NO DEVIL . . . SPEAK NO DEVIL
by Phil Mushnick
June 3, 2001 -- TWENTY years ago, when Art Rust Jr. on WABC held a virtual ear-lock on sports talk radio in this town, we would be served a nightly portion of platitudes, all you could eat.
Arthur George Rust Jr. had a nasty, egocentric habit of being unable to say, "I don't know," thus he'd answer questions with plausible nonsense.
"Art, whattya think of St. John's chances in the Big East, this season?"
"Let me tell you something, my friend. When the bell rings, Little Looie will have his guys ready . . . Sal from Rockaway Beach. What's on your mind, Salvatore?"
"Art, there's a lot of hype about the Rangers' first two draft picks. You think either has a chance of starting the season here?"
"They're good, my man; they can skate. But you've gotta understand something about hockey at the NHL level: If you don't smack that black disc against that twine; if you don't light up that red bulb, you're not gonna win a lot of games."
And so it would go, night after night.
Gratefully, the introduction of WFAN, 14 years ago this July, mostly put an end to such thin radio sports talk here. Mostly. Every year, during the Stanley Cup playoffs, the majority of WFAN hosts show up painfully deficient in hockey knowledge, unless knowing that John Vanbiesbrouck's nickname is "Beezer" counts.
And this deficiency is magnified when a local team reaches the Stanley Cup Finals. The Devils last night played Game 4 of the NHL's championship series, although you'd hardly know it from listening to WFAN.
Oh, we've heard detailed analysis and opinions about the Sixers-Bucks NBA semifinal. Donne Wall's value as a reliever continues to be explored in depth. And Chris Russo always keeps at least one eye on the San Francisco Giants. Even in December.
But a local team playing in the Stanley Cup Finals - and looking to repeat as NHL champs, for crying out loud - hardly makes a sound. It's mostly dealt with in obligatory fashion within "20-20" updates.
Then again, as Abe Lincoln suggested, perhaps it's better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt.
On the few occasions when the Devils-Avalanche series has been addressed, it generally hasn't been worth the time to listen. There has been a Rustian flavor to the sounds, as if we can't tell that they don't know.
For example, after Game 1, when the Devils lost, 5-0, Suzyn Waldman, rarely moved to unilaterally address ice hockey, made with the following overview: "That's not the Devils' team we've watched all year."
Could she have been any more vague? And if she watched Devils games all year, why was she rarely, if ever, moved to discuss what she saw?
Fact is, if she watched even a few Devils games, this season, or even earlier round playoff games over the last six weeks, she'd have known that this was precisely the Devils' team we'd watched all year. This team beat the Penguins, in Pittsburgh, 9-0, then went 0-3-1 against them the rest of the season. Then they beat them, 5-0, in Pittsburgh, in the playoffs.
These Devils have been downright fascinating, if one has bothered to pay slightly more than minimal attention. They're deep and versatile. They're rough, but not always ready. When they lose concentration, they do so in unison. And they get drummed. Then they re-focus as one, and become so invincible that you can see the futility on their opponents' faces.
That's why there was little panic among the Devils after they were blasted in Game 1, that's why there was little surprise that they won Game 2, in Colorado, and why there was little surprise that they lost Game 3, in the Meadowlands.
While FAN can identify the problem with the Broncos' long snapper, there's little evidence that its weekday hosts recognize that for a second consecutive season the Devils have a line that rivals the Rangers' GAG line ("Goal-A-Game" line of Jean Ratelle centering for Rod Gilbert and Vic Hadfield) of more than 30 years ago.
The line of Jason Arnott, Patrik Elias and Petr Sykora - all in their prime - should be celebrated almost daily on WFAN for their brilliant, telepathic passing, especially from in deep, where it gets crowded. WFAN hosts, had they paid some attention, might have even encouraged non-hockey fans to take a peek at them.
But for the most part on WFAN, the Devils play in Beloit, Wisconsin.
Steve Somers talks a lot of hockey but has never provided audio proof that he knows the game beyond whether the Rangers won last night. His hockey expertise seems to lie in pressing the buttons of assorted Islanders' and Devils' yahoos and slap-heads. Richard Neer knows some hockey, but he's a weekend guy.
On the other hand, Chicago-based Sporting News Radio, 620 AM here, has been talking Devils and Avalanche - genuine hockey talk - for more than a week.
This time of year, every year - provided a local NHL team is alive - WFAN mostly gives the Stanley Cup playoffs the Art Rust Jr. treatment. "The team with the hot goalie should win." There, that should do it. Now back to Hour 3 of "Paul O'Neill Gets Dropped To Sixth In the Batting Order."