Monday Morning Commentator: September 5

It is now Labour Day Monday here in Canada. That can only mean one thing, lots of football. In this week’s edition of Monday Morning Commentator I delve into the CFL’s choices for the Labour Day Classics this year, as well as the hottest sports broadcasting issues. Have a good Labour Day everyone.

  • I’ll start with some news that somehow managed to slip under the radar, until TSN’s Gord Miller and Bob McKenzie Tweeted about it on the weekend. Former Stars coach and Hockey Night in Canada analyst Marc Crawford has joined the NHL on TSN. Crawford will be a studio analyst this season, working alongside James Duthie, Aaron Ward and Bob McKenzie. McKenzie’s Tweet seemed to imply that these four will be TSN’s regular studio panel. Pierre Lebrun and Darren Dreger will be along with insider information. You can follow Crawford on Twitter here.
  • I know a lot of people get on Crawford for having an annoying voice, but in my opinion that doesn’t really detract from him being one of the best analysts in the business (much like my stance on Pierre McGuire). I really enjoyed Crawford’s work with CBC; plus, working with Mark Lee can make any analyst sound bad. I think Crawford is a great replacement for Craig MacTavish.
  • The question of who will be TSN’s replacement for Pierre McGuire still hasn’t been answered, but two names thrown about can now be knocked off the list. One is obviously Crawford. The other is Mike Johnson, who was announced to be one of TSN’s Jets analysts earlier this week. TSN has also told to me that Johnson will return to his role as Montreal Canadiens analyst, which seemingly rules him out of working nationally broadcast games for TSN. My money is still on Darren Eliot. There should be an official announcement within the next couple weeks on both Crawford and Pierre’s replacement.
  • TSN will also release their Montreal Canadiens schedule sometime this week, either Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. I can’t say for certain which one yet. I expect that TSN-Habs will show 30-35 games, complementing 28 on CBC, 15 on TSN and 3 on Sportsnet East (which will be Senators broadcasts). That means that at least 76 Canadiens games will be shown on English-language TV this year. It is an outside possibility that all 82 will be.
  • With the announcement of the local TV schedules for each Canadian team, I will have a special post recapping the schedules for all 7 teams later this week. It will feature a Excel file with the full broadcast schedule for each team.
  • This next item was asked about by someone who commented on a Bruce Dowbiggin article at I figure I might as well discuss it here, even though I believe I already may have. The question was in regard to who will call CFL games on TSN during the Olympics. First off, it appears Chris Cuthbert will stay behind to call CFL games on TSN. Gord Miller won’t have to be in London until Monday July 31, at the earliest, as athletics doesn’t begin until Friday August 3. So, Miller and Cuthbert can call two CFL games a piece the weekend of July 28. Then the CFL can schedule bye weeks of August 4 and 11, with Cuthbert calling both games each week. Former Canadian Football network host Dave Hodge will likely be the studio host. That seems to solve the conflict, unless CTV decides to use Miller on a sport like judo or canoe/kayak slalom.
  • All 3 members of CTV’s athletics commentary team were in Daegu, Korea this week at the World Championships to prepare for the Olympics. Play-by-play commentator Gord Miller was there as a spectator, while CTV’s two analysts worked teh competition for two different networks. Michael Smith was an analyst for CBC, while Dave Moorcroft was an analyst for Channel 4 in the United Kingdom.
  • The CFL’s scheduling of the Labour Day Classics is a mystery to many. The traditional Tiger Cats-Argonauts Labour Day game has been put on hold this year, with the Cats instead hosting the Montreal Alouettes. The Cats and Argos have hooked up 42 times on Labour Day. The CFL’s reason for breaking up the tradition for this year was scheduling conflicts involving the Argonauts. The Blue Jays have priority at the Rogers Centre, and they play host to the Red Sox on Monday afternoon. The Blue Jays have also prevented the Argos from playing home games on a number of weekends this year.
  • I think the CFL could have re-scheduled the Labour Day Weekend to include all three traditional rivalries, even if they aren’t played on the traditional days, this weekend. Hamilton @ Toronto should have been played on Friday Night at 7:30pm ET, as part of Friday Night Football, with Montreal @ BC following at 10:30pm ET. That way the CFL avoids a busy weekend in sports on Saturday and Sunday, and gets some strong ratings with two games on its traditional game night. If the CFL would prefer to play Lions and Alouettes on Saturday (or to have the game in Montreal), then a Saturday 3pm ET start would make sense. Then on Monday, Blue Bombers @ Roughriders (who have met 47 times on Labour Day weekend) could be a 3pm ET start, with Eskimos @ Stampeders at 6:30pm ET. It makes sense to me, but maybe not the CFL I guess?
  • College football fans have been left in the dark by the Canadian networks this weekend. Sportsnet One was originally slated to show four games this weekend, which should be applauded. However, for some reason only two of those games aired. The Thursday night season opener between Mississippi State and Memphis was removed from the schedule at the last minute, in favour of an encore of the Veulta a Espana from earlier in the day. Then the Sunday night game between Southern Methodist and Texas A&M was removed late in the week, with a 40 year old movie, Brian’s Song, airing instead. The omission of both games is puzzling to me. I have reached out to Rogers Sportsnet about both, and as of late Sunday night I haven’t received a response. I encourage all readers to reach out to Sportsnet about this, and if you get a response, let me know. I was very excited, and hopeful, about Sportsnet’s college football coverage when the schedule was released a couple weeks ago; it is hard to be so hopeful now.
  • Meanwhile those with the Super Sports Pak on providers like Rogers and Cogeco were confused as well. The Super Sports Pak usually shows all of the big games that aren’t shown on TSN2 and theScore. However, this past Saturday night the game between #19 Georgia and #5 Boise State wasn’t (legally) available to Canadians at all this past Saturday night. TSN owns rights to the game, but they couldn’t show it because of contractual obligations with the US Open and NASCAR.
  • This conflict will also happen next weekend, when ESPN’s primetime game is the first night game at Michigan Stadium when the Wolverines host the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. It is quite likely that this game won’t be on Canadian TV either, despite the fact that it is between two of the most popular college football programs in Canada. In the past TSN sold all games they couldn’t show to theScore or the Super Sports Pak, this doesn’t seem to be the case this season for some reason.
  • The good news for Canadian college football fans is that I don’t see any conflicts on TSN2 on Saturday nights after next weekend. This should mean that the rest of the ESPN Saturday primetime games should be shown on TSN2. College Gameday will also air on TSN2 from 10am-noon ET on Saturday mornings beginning September 17. TSN2 had a conflict with a Canadian basketball game this past Saturday, and has a conflict with the Premier League next Saturday. Again, the good news is that there are no conflicts with the Premier League until a Manchester United game on November 26.
  • I know that many are wondering how college football TV contracts work in Canada. I’ll admit that it isn’t even 100% clear to myself. I believe that each conference sells worldwide TV rights to a US broadcaster; in turn, that broadcaster can sell rights outside of the US to whoever they want. ESPN obviously gives rights to their games to TSN, who in turn sub-lease some games to theScore and the rest to premium providers like the Super Sports Pak. Fox sells the rights to all of their games (from FSN, FX and Fox itself) to Rogers, who puts them on Sportsnet One. The only thing sold separately to the highest Canadian bidder are the 5 BCS games.
  • One last point on college football, I know fans of the sport are frustrated, especially those will pay $30 a month for the Super Sports Pak, but do understand that TSN has rights agreements with the USTA and NASCAR that we don’t really know the details to. Most of these deals require TSN to show all of their events, if possible. This is especially true for NASCAR, where TSN (not TSN2) had to show the 2010 Daytona 500 even though the Olympics were ongoing that day. NASCAR and tennis are also more popular than college football in Canada.
  • And finally, a couple of notes on the blog. Canadian Sports Media Blog now has RSS feeds; see the link on the right hand sidebar to subscribe. I’ll also be bringing back my weekly college football rankings. The first edition has already been posted. I don’t care if nobody else cares, because I enjoy doing them. I won’t always agree with the AP and Coaches polls, but my rankings are usually similar. Weekly NFL schedules will be coming here, usually on Tuesday or Wednesday, beginning this week. I will post the weekly schedule for CTV, TSN/TSN2 and Sportsnet/Citytv. I’ll also post links to J.P. Kirby’s maps for CBS and Fox.

23 thoughts on “Monday Morning Commentator: September 5

  1. I wonder if CTV might use commentators in Toronto to call some games off TV screens during the Olympics. If they are in the cost cutting mood they might try and do that for the lesser viewed sports. They already confirmed some programming like Olympic Morning on TSN is being anchored from Toronto. Nothing screams ‘London Olympics’ like people hosting in Scarborough.

    • Considering how much money was lost with the Games being in the country last time, I’d imagine CTV will try to cut as many corners as possible.

    • CBC did that with some commentators in 2008 (soccer, wrestling, weightlifting, field hockey were all off monitor IIRC).

      CBC also had Brian Williams in Toronto for Olympic Primetime in 2006.

  2. The Argos-Ti-Cats Labour Day game is traditionally in Hamilton. If the Argos were scheduled on the road this week, they would have had three road games in a row (for the second time this season), and gone more than a month between home games (Aug. 18 to Sep. 24). I think that made the normal matchup undesirable for the Argos, but I’m sure the Ti-Cats didn’t want to give up the Labour Day home date. That’s why Montreal is there this week.

    Also, the Saskatchewan-Winnipeg “Labour Day” Classic has been on Sunday for as long as I can remember. I don’t think the Riders would want to change it to Monday, because it’s easier for Winnipeg fans to make the trip when they have a travel day after the game.

  3. Have you considered calling Sportsnet Josh? I will give them a call tomorrow if I’m not too busy. The fact that Sportsnet says they are going to air four games on Sportsnet One this weekend and they only air two of them is pathetic really. Also more inexcusable was the fact that Boise State vs Georgia was made unavailable on the Super Sports Pak. If Notre Dame @ Michigan is unavailable (legally) to Canadians next weekend, there will be a LOT of angry college football fans here.

    Also, I fear that College Gameday might be unwatchable up here this year due to TSN2 blocking out the ESPN ticker. Unless, they happen to show all of the college football games playing each Saturday on TSN’s ticker. For these reasons, I have always maintained that the ESPN Networks and other popular American networks should be made available here in Canada (even if the cable and satellite companies charge $20 a month for such a package). Sadly, that is a dream as the CRTC dictators are looking out for the industry and not the general public.

    • Its not the crtc are beeing dictators even if they said ok we will permit us networks in i can’t see studios and leagues beeing happy aboout that as they would lose a massive amount of money in terms of international sales etc.Another key thing is this is not a canada only thing this happens in most countrys take the states there are alot of americans that would love to have tsn would it be nice if we could get every channel thats in the states sure and it would be nice for americans to get channels such as tsn.By the way if that did ever happen it would be alot more then $20 more of the lines of $120.

      • Here’s an idea for thought: maybe there could be a compromise agreement put in place to allow the ESPN Networks here in Canada. In turn, TSN & TSN2 could be made available in the United States. Can something like this ever be worked out? Or is this another dream?

        • Something like that i think could be possible tsn could hold the rigghts to nhl and world juniors/cfl while espn would have the right to baseball/ncaa sports etc.

        • It wouldn’t happen. Virtually everything wouldn’t be available to US viewers on TSN, except curling. Most events are simulcasted from a US network, and would be blacked out. Even CFL rights are owned by ESPN and NFL Network, so they would be blacked out.

          There is a precedent for competition of sports networks from one country in another. All of the British channels (including BBC, ITV, Sky Sports and ESPN) are available in Ireland. They compete directly with Irish channels like Setanta Sports and RTE. However, as I understand it, many people watch the Irish channels for most events because their coverage has an Irish flavour to it. The exception is Sky and ESPN’s Premier League games, which are exclusive to those channels in Ireland.

          So, using that as an example, I think that allowing US sports channels into Canada could work. It would just force Canadian nets to do their own coverage. CBC Sports, TSN and Sportsnet would probably be fine, but TSN2, Sportsnet One and theScore probably wouldn’t be.

          • My idea could be to start an “ESPN Canada”. Put all the ESPN US programs there, clear the college football, basketball, LLWS, whatever that doesn’t air here already, and air TSN filler on off nights and during the day for CanCon.

          • If tsn and espn had a agreement i do think it could work it may not be perfect but i think its a idea that should be looked at.As for usa nets comming in the only way i think that could work is if they bid for the canadian rights and won the canadian rights then that might just work.

            • I had a question for you guys, if The Score no longer exists at some point during the new year, does anyone see ESPNEWS being allowed here in Canada? Maybe if TSN & TSN2 are allowed in the United States then maybe this could happen here?

  4. I like how you have said that the Habs regional schedule will be out this week and then list all 4 possible days. It should be this week then, LOL. It will be interesting to see if the all their games will be televised in english. There is a good chance for that since it does say on the TSN Habs page at least 30 games for the next 2 seasons. I think you meant to say 30 to 36 games. If it’s 35 as you said, then there would be one game missing. Great idea and looking forward to the excel page with all the teams regional games.

  5. O/T – Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks will have a Rookie Game on SNET.

  6. Any update on Notre Dame – Michigan? Would really like to see this game at home Saturday night.

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