Judging by the audio, strange things are afoot at ice level.
The NHL previously announced that the games would be broadcast on delay to allow censoring of any salty language on the ice. Of course, the league didn’t say how exactly they would be censoring that audio.
It appears they’ve opted to do a bit of backwards masking on the ice-level mics – a similar approach to what radio stations have used to censor songs. As strange as it may sound in the context of a hockey game, the bigger problem is that they’re inadvertently censoring the officials’ on-ice announcements the same way.
Not all games or all were impacted, with some clearly audible. Other games have opted to omit the ref announcements altogether, with no ice-level audio for the announcements.
Another minor change is that the referees are no longer wearing mic packs. The league has mounted a fixed microphone along the boards near the officials’ crease to pick up the calls. Perhaps their concern is that the mic is picking up other commentary as well.
Here’s hoping the NHL and its broadcast partners can retool the setup to allow the officials to once again announce calls. Wes McCauley is counting on it.
UPDATE: The games played on Thursday, July 30, were free of this effect for the officials’ announcements, so it looks like that’s been straightened out. Nice work, NHL AV Club!