SportsCentre anchors Darren Dutchyshen and Kate Beirness led off last night’s 11:30pm ET broadcast with what they described as a sad Canadian hockey story to begin the New Year. Watching, you could tell they were sad just by their facial expressions. I had a hard time feeling sad about the lose, considering I know there aren’t many in Russia who watched the game and cared that they beat Canada. This wasn’t like the 2006 Olympic hockey quarterfinal loss to Russia, or even the back-to-back losses to Russia in the 2008 and 2009 World Hockey Championship finals. The TV reaction was sure the same as that 2006 game, mostly because it was such a shock to TSN, who count on a Canada final every year for ratings. Canada had made ten straight finals, dating back to 2002. Since 1991, when TSN began broadcasting the tournament, Canada had made the final 17 of 21 times.
I think that Canada’s loss was a great thing for hockey. The main reason is the tournament needs credibility in Europe. Russia and Sweden are two traditional hockey powers. After Canada, most top NHL draft picks have come from those countries. Their round robin game on New Year’s Eve, which decided the winner of Group A, was a 4-3 overtime result for Sweden. The 2013 World Junior Championship is in Ufa, Russia. The 2014 World Junior Championship is on Malmö, Sweden. Surely people in Russia and Sweden, and maybe throughout Europe, will watch this game. A Canada vs. Sweden final wouldn’t have had any interested in Russia.
TSN, who promote the tournament as a source of Canadian pride, will surely take a hit in the ratings Thursday evening because of this though. An average of 6.9 million Canadians tuned in to watch last year’s final, where Canada lost to Russia in a third period collapse. I think TSN can draw in the 2 to 3 million range for a final without Canada, which is still great compared to the NHL on TSN’s regular season ratings, but is not what advertisers expect.
Order of Canada… Is anyone in sports broadcasting more deserving of the Order of Canada than Brian Williams? Williams, who has covered almost every Olympic Games since 1976 in Montreal, is the most recognizable face in Canadian sports broadcasting. Then there was this classic 2000 Air Farce sketch that featured Williams (you need Real Player to watch it). Congratulations to Mr. Williams from me; I have many great Olympic memories with him at the helm.
2012 Winter Classic… NBC’s ratings for the 2012 Winter Classic were slightly down based on previous years; however, the number of people watching was up from the last Winter Classic played in the afternoon in 2010. CBC hasn’t made their Winter Classic ratings public yet.
2013 Winter Classic… For years Canadians have complained about not hosting a Winter Classic. Canada won’t get to host next year’s either, Detroit is the front-runner. However, the Maple Leafs are a possible choice as the Red Wings opponents. This would give CBC a major ratings boost, plus it would keep Canadian fans happy. Other possible opponents next year include Colorado, San Jose, Los Angeles and St. Louis. It seems that Washington is the favourite for the 2014 Classic, while New York’s Yankee Stadium is the favourite for the 2015 edition. Remember with the Winter Classic, it is driven by US TV.
Did he really say that?… I don’t know what was better about Monday night’s Fiesta Bowl, the actual game (an OT thriller between Stanford and Oklahoma State) or ESPN analyst Matt Millen. His analysis on NFL #1 draft pick-in waiting Andrew Luck: “He bores you with completions, he bores you with efficiency.” Millen also took John Madden’s “a hat on a hat” into a new era with “a guy on a guy” and offered this gem that would leave you wondering if you are watching football or a gay porno: “When he gets inside of a guy and bends his hips, he’s pretty good”. For more quotes, check out Awful Announcing.
Paul Romanuk… He is known to many Canadians as the voice of the World Juniors in the 90s. Now he lives in Europe and commentates on the Spengler Cup instead of the Juniors for TSN. With next year’s Juniors in Russia, TSN should use Romanuk in some capacity.