Major Changes at Hockey Night in Canada

B.C. Lions radio play-by-play Rick Ball is the new voice of CBC's late Saturday games

B.C. Lions radio play-by-play Rick Ball is the new voice of CBC’s late Saturday games

Hockey Night in Canada is finally getting a much-needed makeover. Rick Ball and Kelly Hrudey will takeover calling the main 7:00pm Pacific/10:00pm Eastern game on many weeks this season. Scott Oake will continue to report rinkside and host After Hours for the second game of CBC’s doubleheader. Jim Hughson, Craig Simpson and Glenn Healy will continue to call the 7:00pm Eastern Toronto Maple Leafs broadcast most weeks. Bob Cole and Garry Galley will mostly do Canadiens and Senators games. CBC has demoted Mark Lee to Winnipeg Jets regional broadcasts, where he will work with Greg Millen. Dean Brown also remains with CBC to call selected games. CBC will only have four games twice this season, however, on Hockey Day in Canada and again on April 6. Kevin Weekes will also stay with Hockey Night in a new role.

In my opinion, it’s about time CBC made a change. Lee really brought down the quality of CBC’s western broadcasts. I’m not too familiar with Ball; however, I’ve heard good things about him from those in British Columbia. Hrudey’s new role will allow him to stay closer to home (he lives in Calgary). Usually during the playoffs Hrudey spends most of April and May in Toronto, away from his family.

I wonder if this might be the opportune time for CBC to move Bob Cole further aside. I’m a big a fan of Cole as anyone, I grew up with him, but if CBC really wants to promote Ball and Hrudey as the team of the future they should call a Conference Final. I don’t know if it will happen this year, but it seems that Ball is CBC’s secondary play-by-play commentator of the future.

CBC’s rinkside reporters will largely stay the same. Andi Petrillo, Elliotte Friedman, Scott Oake, David Amber and Cassie Campbell all return.

EDIT (1/17):  CBC has made all of this official now. Kevin Weekes is taking Kelly Hrudey’s old spot in CBC’s studio. Elliotte Friedman is now part of the main studio panel, while Andi Petrillo takes over the iDesk. Don Cherry will do Coach’s Corner at the end of the 1st intermission of both the early and late games.

CBC has also confirmed that Cole, Brown, Galley and Millen will split up regional games in the east, while Lee and Millen will do regional Jets games.

I’m not sure exactly what motivated CBC to switch Weekes and Hrudey; however, it is worth noting Weekes lives in Toronto and Hrudey lives in Calgary. Instead of having both travel across the country weekly, this makes more sense.

30 thoughts on “Major Changes at Hockey Night in Canada

  1. Great news. Although I’m disappointed Mark Lee will be calling my beloved Jets games. Still, Rick Ball is a solid announcer. I hope he does get a conference final as well. I wish TSN would loan out Dennis Beyak to CBC so he can call Jets games to HNIC but I know that won’t happen, but I can dream.

    • At least the Jets don’t have many games on CBC this year, I guess. I’m betting Lee won’t do all Jets games anyway. For example I’d think he’ll do EDM-DET on Hockey Day and Hughson’s crew might well get the two Friday games.

  2. Agreed that it was much needed. I’m curious to see Ball, I’m not familiar with him at all.

    And yeah, it’s time for them to move Cole aside a little more. Maybe next season, they’ll give him Dean Brown’s role.

    • I think they’ll leave him on Canadiens games until he retires because at the end of the day a regional game is a regional game and Brown covers the Senators everyday anyway (and lives in Ottawa).

  3. Ugh. Send Jim Hughson back to cover his beloved Canucks and away from his obviously detested Leafs. Bob Cole is still the best around. I also hope Andi Petrillo will get a more defined/expanded role in the future as she’s been largely wasted. Kevin Weekes has improved greatly since his inauspicious debut, here’s to his new role being a useful one instead of the 2am eastern after-hours show.

    • Honestly CBC has so many rinkside reporters that its hard to make them all useful. Andi Petrillo did host a one hour afternoon show last year. I haven’t heard if it is coming back or not.

      I’m neither a Leafs or a Canucks fan and I’ve never really found Hughson to be anti-Leafs.

    • What i find with many Leaf fans is they only want broadcasters that will speak kind of there team if anyone questions them they should not be broadcasting the Leafs.

  4. Bob Cole is still the voice of Saturday night hockey for me. He has that “big game” voice that I love. Wish CBC would still have him on the Leafs games.

  5. I didn’t like Mark Lee but the last thing CBC needs is another repugnant BC homer in Mark Ball calling the games. Listening to Hughson is enough torture.

  6. I guess this means that Daryl Reaugh won’t be needed this season at HNIC.
    Looking at the schedule, I have Hughson/Simpson/Healy calling the majority of the Maple Leafs games, except for 2 or 3 games (Bob Cole and Garry Galley will likely call those).

  7. I’m not too familiar with Ball’s work either aside from flipping in and out of the few Winnipeg games on CBC he did last year, but just about anybody would seem to be a step up from Mark Lee. Mark Lee and Cassie Campbell in the booth together was possibly one of the most painful duos I’ve ever heard. Say what you want about Bob Cole, but as a Montreal fan I’d much rather hear him calling most of our CBC games than Lee. Somehow I have a feeling Lee will end up on the Montreal games when Cole does finally call it quits. Of course CBC could be out of NHL hockey after next year anyway…

  8. Though I am a fan of Mark Lee’s work, both NHL and when he did CFL, putting Rick Ball in this position gives the CBC a chance to see whether he can handle the #2 crew at some point. They know what they have in Dean Brown and Mark Lee; they need to see what Ball can do. I also think Hrudey and Weekes will excel in their new positions more than where they were.

  9. just wanted to share that only 2 blackhawks games will be on WGN this year: Apr 20 vs Phoenix and Apr 27 at St. Louis

    • Wow, that’s really unfortunate. When nothing else was on in previous seasons, I was always happy to see a Blackhawks game on WGN.

  10. Bring back Dave Hodge and Brian McFarlane, HNIC hasn’t been the same since they left.

  11. The announcing teams should be assigned based on the top team doing the biggest game, and not the top team doing the Leafs just because Metro Toronto is home to one-fourth of Canada’s population.

    • I guess that depends on how you define the biggest game. If its the one most people will watch (which is how every sports network decides it), then the top crew usually does the #1 game (which sometimes is the Canucks). CBC makes up their assignments before the season. Kind of hard to predict what games will be big in April anyway, if judging by the standings.

  12. Please, CBC – encourage Bob Cole to retire NOW. He can’t keep up with the play, doesn’t know the players and his ‘story telling’ method is way too outdated for the pace of today’s play. It was great watching the Leafs/Canadians tonight.

  13. If CBC keeps “Hockey Night In Canada” past 2014, I wonder if they will try to poach Mike Emrick away from NBC and make him the number-one play-by-play man.

    Yes, he’s American, but he might just be the best play-by-play hockey announcer in the English-speaking world today.

    • Won’t happen. Emrick has a contract with NBC and there’s not a chance CBC would replace Jim Hughson, who they spent lots of money on, with someone ten years older than him. There’s really no reason for CBC to go after Emrick. And, as Pierre McGuire and Mike Milbury show, NBC will pay as much (or more) than the Canadian networks.

  14. I will never watch Bob Cole again. He’s slow, behind each play and completely out of it. I do not understand how he’s still sitting in the booth.

  15. Bring back Bob Cole to announce the Toronto Maple Leafs Hockey Games, he is the best. You know your watching hockey on Saturday night when he announces the game……Shame on CBC for trying to shake things up.

  16. Dean Brown is a famous commentator. I like him so much. His voice is so attractive. Best of luck.

  17. CBC hockey announcers are amateurs. They are bias and unprofessional from Hughson on down. Terrible the garbage they spew, especially if the Leafs are one of the teams they are commenting on.
    CBC is supposed to be an national network NOT a local TV station cheering on the hometown team.
    These so called hockey experts sound like some guys they picked up at a sports bar cheering on their favorite team.
    I often wonder if CBC has guide lines these clowns must follow. They certainly have no personal pride in their work!

  18. The CBC and Hockey Night In Canada needs to start acting like a national broadcast team instead of mainly focusing on the Leafs.
    Saturdays night broadcast from Vancouver was the worst I’ve ever seen, it was like Vancouver was the visitor and weren’t even on the ice.
    The commentators totally ignored Lupul trying to kill Sedin with a wild elbow leaving his feet in the process and to add insult to injury no comment from the league officials.
    Check this out.

  19. I have watched HNIC for over 40 years. I have tried to put up with Hughson, Simpson and Healey, but I can do it no longer.They are getting worse as time goes by.
    There is no commentary, no insightful information, just non-stop ‘noise’ The ‘noise’ is so distracting
    How on earth do viewers continue to tune in?
    Please provide the commentary the rest of the broadcast deserves

  20. To me the best colour man is Garry Galley, hands down, being wasted with Cole, I would replace glen Heally with Galley….

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