For so many years, the Canadian media has given the Toronto Maple Leafs preferential treatment when it comes to headline stories and news coverage. CBC, for decades, would overly praise the team, while almost ignoring the other Canadian teams; Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg.
After Rogers inked a 12-year, $5.2 billion deal with the NHL, President Scott Moore promised there would be more national coverage for all seven teams. It seemed as though Rogers would treat every team equally…only now, after being subjected to the same old status quo, it looks like they were just empty promises. The same airhead comments and bias remarks towards Toronto are imminent in the Rogers broadcasts, and their preferential treatment is glaring in their game scheduling decisions on Saturday nights.
Taking over from CBC this season, many would have thought that the whole Hockey Night in Canada crew, loathed by the masses, would be changed, but our loud-mouth friends P.J. Stock and Glenn Healy are still there, Bob Cole, who has no idea what is going on, still lethargically calls the games (“and the knowledgeable Habs fans know that icing on a penalty kill is good”), and to make matters worse, Rogers has decided to keep their uneducated analysts in Nick Kypreos and Doug MacLean.
The overall product of the broadcast is terrible, and it comes to no surprise that their numbers are down. Moore is in shock, and blames the company that keeps viewer audience statistics for their drop in numbers. Seriously? You can’t just realize who’s making the errors (you) and fix it?
The lowest of lows came this weekend. Rogers Hometown Hockey visitied Dollard-Des-Ormeaux, Quebec, a suburb on the West Island of Montreal. Vincent Lecavalier, Jonathan Drouin, Mark Barbiero, Alex Killorn, Anthony Duclair, and Louis Domingue are just a few NHLers who have played in DDO, for the Lac St. Louis Lions Midget AAA team. Being from Dollard, I made my way to the Hometown Hockey festivities at the Civic Center, where P.J. Stock, Patrice Brisebois, and Hall of Famer Guy Lafleur were all part of a panel, discussing their careers.
At one point, each of them were talking about their role models. Stock interrupted someone, as usual, to say something irrelevant and pointless…one of the most idiotic lines I’ve heard, in fact; “Well Guy, you’re the Jean Beliveau of today”.
Taking insult to that comment, Lafleur, a five-time Stanley Cup winner, turned to Stock, a zero-time Stanley Cup winner, and said “No. There’s only one Jean Beliveau”.
Now, just imagine if this was on national television. Stock would be under intense scrutiny, but luckily for him, it was in front of only 50 or so people. Stock showed an incredible amount of disrespect to the late, great, Jean Beliveau. If Stock was watching the ceremonies and tribute paid to Mr. Beliveau following his passing on December 2, 2014, Stock would know that no man could ever be compared to our beloved late captain.
The Habs aren’t the only victims of Rogers’ ignorance. As of today, four out of the seven Canadian teams hold a playoff spot. That’s impressive in itself, as the Montreal was the only Canadian team to make the playoffs last year, and now, Vancouver holds a third-place spot in the Pacific Division, while Winnipeg and Calgary are one-two in the Western wild card spots. You won’t hear much about that on Rogers.
Having missed the playoffs for five straight seasons, the Calgary Flames were, at times, one of the hottest teams in the league this season, and they’re currently playing some fantastic hockey. Johnny Gaudreau is a headline stealer, but of course, Rogers worries more about what Phil Kessel did in practice.
The Winnipeg Jets, quite frankly, are one of the least covered teams in Canada. Rogers has no rights to their regional games, and the Jets hold no place in their panel discussions. Paul Maurice is doing a fantastic job in Manitoba, in an extremely tough division, while his rookie-phenom goaltender, Michael Hutchinson, is holding down the fort pretty well, but again, little to no mention of the team during the panel discussions.
Vancouver is fighting hard in the West, after a disappointing season a year ago. But where is the coverage of the Sedins, the Canucks defence, Ryan Miller‘s first year in Vancouver, or a look at how things are different under Willie Desjardins instead of John Tortorella?
Don’t even get started on Don Cherry. The pro-Canadian, anti-European, old-time-hockey guy is overstaying his welcome. He’s up to his same old antics and comments that are the polar-opposite to what virtually any normal hockey analyst would say. He often needs to ask Ron MacLean for stat-checks, and at this point, is just making a fool out of himself. Half the time, he doesn’t even talk about hockey, opting instead to repeat “my boy” ad nauseum, and keeps asking about the time, as he is down to five minutes, instead of his old seven.
Its great that Rogers shows all these teams on one of their various channels, and we applaud that change in coverage. Is it too much to ask though that the pregame show, and the intermission coverage be Hockey Night in Canada, instead of Hockey Night in Toronto? I’m not saying to ignore the Leafs, but do they have to be such a focus. Sometimes it feels like its Toronto and everyone else.
In the age of the internet, it’s easy for a fan to turn off the television and watch their team’s games via live streaming on other team’s broadcasts. If Rogers doesn’t get their act together soon, and fix this lingering problem, fans tuning into their opponent’s broadcasts will become the new norm.
Its time for Rogers to look in the mirror when they talk about sinking ratings for their coverage, and maybe, just maybe, try something that will work coast-to-coast.
Thanks for reading! Please take a moment to follow me on Twitter @LWOSNick. Support LWOS by following us on Twitter – @LastWordOnSport – and “liking” our Facebook page.
Have you tuned into Last Word On Sports Radio? LWOS is pleased to bring you 24/7 sports radio to your PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone. What are you waiting for?
Interested in writing for us? Find out more by visiting our “Write for Us” page.