If the kids at ESPN and Fox have their way, you won't just be able to see the Stanley Cup finals, which open tomorrow (8 p.m., Channel 45), you'll feel them.
Among animated robots, extra microphones, miles of audio and video cable and additional tape machines, the two networks will throw just about every piece of technological wizardry possible at viewers for the championship round, pitting Western champ Detroit against Eastern winner New Jersey.
"We've done a great job at making the game more TV-friendly. You're able to feel the speed and follow the puck more easily," said producer Tom McNeely, who will head up ESPN's operation, which includes 21 cameras, 10 tape machines and at least 10 microphones at ice-level, with one in each net.
The big news at Fox is that it will continue its use of a robotic "Hot Head" camera, mounted on an 11-foot high tripod that allows the viewer to see over the glass at mid-ice and at the goal judge booths. Lead director Sandy Grossman, who is also Fox's chief football director, has been using the camera not only for replays, but for live action.
"I'm very excited about it," said Grossman, who will have eight tape machines and 12 cameras. "I give them [the viewers] the best seats on both ends. You find you're following the puck a lot closer than you ever could before."
For Fox's prime-time coverage -- believed to be the first such production in more than 20 years and the first network presentation of a Stanley Cup final game since CBS carried Game 6 of the 1980 series between Philadelphia and the New York Islanders -- lead announcers Mike Emrick and John Davidson will anchor coverage. James Brown and Dave Maloney will do the studio show from the arenas.
ESPN, which gets Games 2, 3, 5 and 6, will have Gary Thorne and Bill Clement on the game call, with John Saunders anchoring the studio show on site with analysts Mike Milbury, Barry Melrose and Darren Pang and sideline reporters Steve Levy and Al Morganti.
CFL on the radio
The second season of Baltimore Football Club CFL broadcasts kicks off with tomorrow night's exhibition with Ottawa from Memorial Stadium with a simulcast on WJFK (1300 AM) and WGRX (100.7 FM) at 7:30. Bruce Cunningham and Joe Washington return as the announce crew.
For this season, the pre- and post-game shows have been expanded to an hour each, and Cunningham will do daily updates on WJFK.
Cunningham will be the host of a weekly two-hour call-in show at 11 a.m., and coach Don Matthews will have a Monday program from Flutie Garcia's restaurant in Towson at 7 p.m. each week. Both shows will air on WGRX.
* CBS (Channel 13) fills its golfing void this weekend with boxing and auto racing. Tomorrow at 4 p.m., the "CBS Sports Show," presents a World Boxing Organization junior lightweight title bout from New Orleans between current champ and Dutch native Regilio Tuur and challenger Peter Taliaferro. On Sunday at 1 p.m., it's the Michigan 400 NASCAR race, followed at 4 p.m. by a second fight from the Crescent City, as U.S. Boxing Association light heavyweight titlist James Toney takes on Freddie Delgado.
* Speaking of boxing, former heavyweight champ Riddick Bowe takes another step toward trying to regain the title with a 12-round fight with unbeaten Jorge Luis Gonzalez from Las Vegas on HBO tomorrow night at 10.
* Finally, ABC (Channel 2) carries two days of action from the U.S. Outdoor Track and Field Championships from Sacramento, Calif., tomorrow at 4:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. After track Sunday, ABC will have a soccer match from RFK Stadium in Washington, pitting the U.S. men's national team against Mexico.