When the Planes Don’t Fly

The plane tickets and boarding passed began to accumulate like the snow by mid-morning

The plane tickets and boarding passed began to accumulate like the snow by mid-morning (credit: @cctsn)

Ever had a tough day at work? Maybe a flight to a meeting was cancelled causing havoc in your day? That’s what happened at TSN on Friday in a situation that rarely occurs in sports broadcasting. Sure there are difficulties getting commentators to assignments at times. However, it is quite odd for broadcasters to not make it to the game they are working on time. It does sometimes happen though, apparently.

Chris Cuthbert and Ray Ferraro were in Boston last Thursday night to call a game between the Maple Leafs and the Bruins. They were scheduled to fly out of Boston and make the short trip to New York on Friday morning. It’s far from unusual for commentators to work games on back-to-back nights. It has happened seven times in the first three months this season on Canadian national TV alone. Ferraro was working games on three straight nights last week. However, a winter storm in the northeastern United States delayed Cuthbert and Ferraro’s trip to New York.

At first morning flights were delayed until noon. Then that flight was cancelled, followed by the 2pm flight as well. When trying to re-book they found out LaGuardia Airport had shut down for four hours. Around the same time, about 3:00pm Eastern, Aaron Ward and Gord Miller found out they might have to step in for Cuthbert and Ferraro should they not make it to New York in time for puckdrop, which was just seven hours away. Ward was preparing for the studio show, Miller was at home. Under four hours is not a lot of time to prepare to do play-by-play and colour commentary.

Ward preparing hard to fill-in for Ferraro. (credit: @GMillerTSN)

Ward preparing hard to fill-in for Ferraro (credit: @GMillerTSN)

Back in Boston the decision was made to make the two-hour drive to New Haven, Connecticut. Once there the plan was to catch a train to New York City, which could have got them to Manhattan up to an hour before puckdrop. But all the trains to New York City were sold out. So the drive to New York City, about 90 minutes from New Haven, continued. With a couple of hours until the start of the game, there was still a chance to make it to MSG on time. That chance ended when the driver missed the turn on to the George Washington Bridge and they ended up in New Jersey. Once in New York City traffic held them up for another 15 minutes, but ten hours later they were finally at MSG.

They arrived just as Patrick Wiercioch scored to make it 2-0 for Ottawa in the middle of the first period. They had a few minutes to prepare while they waited for the next commercial break. In the final minutes of the first period they took over for Miller and Ward who were calling the game off a monitor in Toronto. Almost everyone has a crazy travel story, but it’s hard to top what Cuthbert and Ferraro went through while on the short trip from Boston to New York last Friday.

Beirness… Kate Beirness hosting the NHL on TSN studio show would usually qualify as big news. Beirness joins the few women who have worked in the studio on national hockey broadcasts in Canada – Andi Petrillo was the first in Hockey Night in Canada‘s sixty year history earlier this year. For those wondering, James Duthie was on assignment. And it was Beirness’ birthday. She is also hosting TSN’s March Madness coverage starting next week.

McKenzie the Second… Those in Winnipeg may have noticed Shawn McKenzie is Sportsnet’s new Jets reporter. The McKenzie name is could well known in hockey broadcasting. To answer the question everyone’s probably asking. yes he is Bob’s son. So now he’s working for the competition of the network his dad works for. Wouldn’t it be crazy if he out-scooped Bob for a Jets trade when the trade deadline comes around in a few weeks?

Figure Skating Worlds… CBC Sports is in London, ON for the World Figure Skating Championships. Coverage begins tonight at 9:00pm local. Scott Russell will host the broadcasts, with Brenda Irving, Kurt Browning and Tracy Wilson in the broadcast booth. I would think CBC will use the same broadcast crew for Olympic figure skating next year.

9 thoughts on “When the Planes Don’t Fly

  1. I knew something was up when I was watching the broadcast. Thanks for filling us in.

  2. I thought TSN would’ve just waited until the start of the 2nd period for them to take over the commentary considering there was only about 2 and 1/2 minutes to go in the first. It looked like they pretty much went straight for the “booth” area as they were shown on screen still wearing their street clothes rather than suits.

    You mention Miller and Ward didn’t have much prep time but hats off as well to Cuthbert and Ferraro. I’m sure they didn’t get to prepare much either while sorting out travel arrangements and riding in a car to NY.

    • Yeah I agree, would have given them about 20 more minutes to prepare.

      And agreed on the last point as well. Probably one of the craziest work days of their lives, then they had to step in on national TV having not even seen most of the 1st period. Cuthbert told me nothing like that’s happened to him in his 30 years in the business. I just thought of this though, Cuthbert got his start by having to fill-in doing play-by-play during the ’88 playoffs when there was the power outage in the BOS-MTL series.

  3. Blatant hometown shout out to Aaron Ward: Blackburn Hamlet represent!

  4. Isn’t Mark Lee usually in the booth for figure skating? If so I would imagine that he would call it for the Olympics

  5. You’d think that perhaps there was a chance that someone in the resource department would have looked at a weather forecast a day in advance and worked on various travel scenarios to get the guys traveling ahead of a storm.

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