Bob McKenzie summed up the 2012 NHL trade deadline day as well as anyone. “Busy day. Maybe not for fans expecting trade action but chasing ghosts all day is hard work. Ha ha.” he commented on Twitter after Monday’s deadline passed. There were 15 trades involving 32 players and 11 draft picks yesterday. Only one 1st round picked was moved, as Nashville dealt theirs for Paul Gaustad and a 4th round pick. The biggest stars to move were former Canadian World Junior players Cody Hodgson and Zack Kassian, who switched teams. Yes, this year’s deadline, like others recently, lacked the big names moving that originally resulted in 10 hours of coverage from TSN and Sportsnet.
Many moments ranged from dull to awkward in the 20 hours of coverage between TSN and Sportsnet. Nominees for the worst moments include James Duthie’s use of a laugh track, which only made awkward jokes from other panel members more unbearable. Or maybe Alyonka Larionov reading Tweets on air, something that isn’t (and probably never will be) a good idea. Another that ranked near the top was Hazel Mae wearing sunglasses in the Sportsnet newsroom. There were others I missed, I’m sure.
By my count Sportsnet broke the most trades. Nick Kyproes was on the ball, breaking many trades while TSN was at commercial break or reading Tweets. Kyper, who has been brushed off as not a real insider in the past, led the way breaking three trades. Bob McKenzie broke two trades. Mark Spector, Pierre Lebrun, Darren Dreger, Bruce Garroich, Scott Morrison, Gord Miller and Renaud Lavoie all broke one each. By my count, that’s a total of six for Sportsnet, five for TSN and one for RDS.
Sportsnet also had the one panel that I thought was worth watching, their “strategy room”, which featured former general managers Pat Quinn, Neil Smith, Doug MacLean and Brian Lawton. The four of them, and host Jeff Marek, were the best at breaking down trades. They also had the best filler, as Smith and Quinn remembered making trades that helped put their respective teams (the Rangers and Canucks) into the 1994 Stanley Cup Final. It was great TV, and unlike the reading of Tweets on air, a welcome innovation on trade deadline day.
Neither of the main panels were particularly inspiring. Marty McSorely and Billy Jaffe were okay, as well Mike Johnson and Aaron Ward. Neither panel offered groundbreaking analysis, but then again there wasn’t a lot to analyze.
Johnson offered up one of the few good soundbites before noon when he said the Predators would be big buyers just seven minutes into TSN’s broadcast. Nashville then went on to make two of the biggest trades of the day.
The ratings reflected Sportsnet’s improved broadcast. TSN still won the day with an average of 259, 000 viewers tuning in (using BBM overnight numbers). That number is down from last year’s overnight number of 268, 000. Sportsnet made big gains though, with an approximate average of 98, 000. That number is up from an overnight average of 72, 000 last year.
Evidently Sportsnet’s improved coverage worked, kind of. Offseason additions Morrison, Marek and Chris Simpson were key to Sportsnet’s broadcast. Sportsnet’s best bet to improve their ratings again is to keep most of their features, while maybe changing a couple of analysts.
TSN, however, will have to make a few changes to keep pace with Sportsnet, as far as content goes at least. After Sportsnet introduced a western panel in past seasons, TSN followed suit this year. Now they will have to add a GM panel. Use Steve Kouleas and Craig Button, then add in a couple of others, and TSN would have a panel that could at least compete with Sportsnet’s.
With overall ratings up, coverage almost certainly won’t be reduced next season.
People watch curling… This year’s Scotties Tournament of Hearts once again proved that the common myth that nobody watches curling is wrong. An average of 1 million watched the final between BC’s Kelly Scott and Alberta’s Heather Nedohin. 633, 000 watched a meaningless 3rd place game between Manitoba and Quebec. That number is slightly down from 1.08 million for last year’s final.
Oilers fans miss out… Due to TSN’s Wednesday night NHL exclusive window, Edmonton Oilers fans will miss out on the first 20 minutes of the Blues-Oilers game on Wednesday. Many are blaming Sportsnet, who certainly are not at fault as their hands are tied. You could blame TSN for not picking the game up, but why would they want to show a game where they’d have to air the first period on TSN2? They only get 10 Oilers games a year. The Oilers scheduled the game as late as they felt comfortable, 8pm local. The Toronto-Chicago game, which is on TSN, starts at 7pm Central/8pm Eastern. The NHL should have forced that game to begin at 6:30pm CT, which would allow Sportsnet to show the entire Oilers game.