With only a few weeks to go before training camps open, it seems like an odd time to have so many vacant broadcast jobs out there, but that is the case. Even more surprising is that the Toronto Maple Leafs are now on that list. As I mentioned yesterday, it appears that Dennis Beyak is on his way to Winnipeg. Even more interesting is that Leafs radio analyst Jim Ralph may also be on the way out. The Toronto Sports Media Blog is reporting that and they are usually right on when it comes to anything that they report.
So where does this leave the Leafs? For Beyak, the decision to leave made plenty of sense for multiple reasons. He was always playing second fiddle to lead man Joe Bowen. Even with that, being on Leafs broadcasts is one of the top gigs in hockey media and it will be attractive to many people. TSM speculates that Dan Dunleavy would make a good choice to replace Beyak. I’ve brought up Dunleavy’s name on multiple occasions on this blog before as he always seems to come up as a candidate for open jobs. Marlies broadcaster John Bartlett would’ve been an obvious choice but he just left the team to go to Montreal.
As far as replacements for Ralph, it’s probably too early to even speculate much on that. There hasn’t been any confirmation that Ralph is out. For that matter, the whole Winnipeg broadcasting rights haven’t even been confirmed yet although everything points to TSN, Bell and Beyak being involved. TSM also mentions former Leafs GM and current Fan 590 personality Gord Stellick and Anaheim Ducks voice John Ahlers, as he has ties to Leafs General Manager Brian Burke, as possible replacements for Beyak and Ralph. It’s always possible that someone will be promoted from Leafs TV as there’s plenty of possibilities there.
There’s something else that may interfere with Dunleavy or anyone else that takes the Leafs jobs. The Leafs radio rights are up after this season and very few people believe that Corus Entertainment’s AM 640 will hold onto the broadcasts. Depending on who wins the rights, they may want to make some radical changes to the broadcasts with the announcers at the top of the list. In Dunleavy’s case, he works for Rogers and Fan 590 and is the lead radio announcer for the World Junior Hockey Championships. Would Dunleavy risk his current job for only a one year gig as a secondary announcer with the Leafs? That’s an interesting risk and it’s possible that TSN would bring in their own people if they win the rights so that may not bode well for whom ever becomes Beyak’s replacement. Rogers and TSN are expected to go toe to toe for the rights and it’s sure to be an expensive win for whomever comes out on top. Either way, the Leafs broadcast silly season will actually extend well after whomever the Leafs announce as calling games during this season and it’s sure to be a wild ride when the bidding starts for the radio rights.