Here’s some random thoughts about some events that have gone on over the past few days.
First off, we have the chaos at CBC and Hockey Night in Canada. The departure of Scott Morrison is the latest in an apparent upheaval at the network. This upheaval wasn’t planned and now CBC will have to make some changes. There is some good news for CBC as they are virtually guaranteed in getting the next two Olympics after forming a partnership with Bell Media. But with Jeff Marek, Morrison and Pierre Lebrun all gone, that leaves the network’s weak talent roster even weaker. CBC struggles compared to TSN in the talent department and these losses don’t help.
The Hotstove has struggled ever since John Davidson departed. The decision to bring everyone in studio has hurt the segment. Instead of getting true league insiders, we’re forced with talking heads that spout more opinion than anything. Lebrun was the exception. Elliotte Friedman has done a good job when he fills in and there’s no reason for him to go to the studio for the segment as they did in the past. Make him a regular and let him report from arenas. Dump Glenn Healy from the segment as he’s too biased and bitter. There’s no need for Eric Francis to fly into Toronto once a week either for a six minute segment. Let Francis report by satellite or dump him as he rarely breaks any news or offers much insight. Mike Milbury is a loose cannon and while I don’t need him as a regular on the segment, I’d like to see him stay as part of the segment to make sporadic appearances. CBC is wasting their online reporter Tim Wharnsby. He should be a Hotstove regular just as the painfully underused Morrison should’ve been. The old Satellite Hotstove segment worked great. It wasn’t broken and didn’t need fixing. It used to be must-see TV and my fear is that it will continue to get more irrelevant. A few changes will bring it back to prominence once again.
CBC also has to figure out who will call Jets games for them. Since they lack any real depth, this will be an interesting decision. Bruce Rainnie isn’t ready yet although that didn’t stop Mark Lee from becoming a HNIC regular. Here’s an idea, get Curt Keilback to call the games. Winnipeg fans would love that and he’s better than many of CBC’s current play by play men. I’m not sure who would make a great analyst for them. Brad May is a possibility but he’s pretty green. Maybe they will move P.J. Stock out of the bubble as he’s largely useless in his current role. Whatever happens, let’s hope that CBC can get back to being the top hockey broadcaster in the world as they were for so many years. Now, it’s somewhat debatable.
MORE THOUGHTS ON NHL NETWORK
Maybe I should just do a weekly segment on NHL Network and their bizarre actions. It’s great that they aired some of the Traverse City Prospects Tournament. I commend them for that although they did air virtually all of it just a few years ago. For whatever reason, that was a one off and now NHLN just borrows other people’s feeds when available. On that note, NHLN really mailed it in during this year’s tourney. First off, they truly did simulcast the MSG feed as they even ran MSG’s advertisements and promos. The only thing that varied was that NHLN was using its own ticker. Outside of that, it was like you were watching MSG. To top it all off, on Saturday, most of the ads had zero audio. Obviously there was some production snafu as the sound was fine on MSG. Same ads, no audio on NHLN.
The good news is that an improved NHLN should be right around the corner. Rich Chere reports that On the Fly will be rebranded and Zach Parise recently filmed promos for OTF and NHLN. He reports that the show will have a new slogan, “Where hockey gets hockey” although that could also stand for the entire network. I did spot Kathryn Tappen doing some interviews during NHL Media days so I look forward to seeing her presence regularly on NHLN. Hopefully, she will become an anchor for the network. One thing to note is that NHL Live is once again moving to a new timelot. It returns September 19th, with a new slot of 5-7 PM Eastern. It will be interesting to see what else is planned for the new season as NHL officials have been rather tight lipped about NHLN’s future.