Details of Sportsnet’s New NHL Broadcast Agreement

Sportsnet officially announced their new broadcast contract with the National Hockey League this morning. And the scope of the new deal is much wider than I could have imagined when news of it first broke 12 hours ago. Sportsnet has bought rights to all nationally-broadcast NHL games for 12 seasons beginning next fall. Sportsnet also picks up rights to the NHL All Star Game and Entry Draft. Rogers will also take over operation of NHL Centre Ice and GameCentre Live in Canada. Rogers is paying $5.2 billion for rights to every game for 12 seasons. The NHL will receive approximately $300 million next season, with fees raising to $500 million by the end of the contract.

Coverage on Saturdays and Sundays will begin at 4pm Eastern. Sportsnet has exclusive national coverage on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays. Sportsnet will also launch a new studio that will host all NHL on Sportsnet and Hockey Night in Canada broadcasts. As part of the deal Rogers will sub-license some Saturday night coverage to the CBC. Two games every Saturday will air on CBC, with the rest airing on Citytv and Sportsnet. This eliminates the need for regional broadcasting. Sportsnet will assume complete creative control over all Hockey Night in Canada broadcasts. This means the future for CBC’s hockey talent is uncertain. It also means that Sportsnet will have the pick of all on-air personalities at TSN and CBC for their new broadcasts. Games will air on CBC, Sportsnet, SN1, SN360, TVA, TVA Sports, TVA Sports 2, as well as other potential channels on Saturday nights.

Keith Pelley, who was key in the plans for how Sportsnet will cover the NHL, was also the head of the Olympic Broadcast Consortium’s Vancouver 2010 coverage. Sportsnet will aim to offer Hockey Night in Canada in a similar fashion with all networks pooling resources and cross-promoting. Pelley set a new standard for Olympic broadcasting in Canada and is looking to do the same for hockey. Since the Sportsnet deal with CBC only came together in the past few days the broadcasters haven’t decided which CBC on-air personalities will transfer over to Sportsnet.

Sportsnet will get to show 30 Leafs games nationally (some could air on CBC) as part of the new agreement. Sportsnet will retain 26 for regional consumption beginning in 2016, with the other 26 airing on TSN regionally.  Since TSN has regional rights to 60 Jets games, the Jets will appear on Sportsnet a maximum of 22 times. It is unclear how many games for each of Canada’s other five teams will air on Sportsnet. TVA will pick up rights to 22 Montreal Canadiens games, most of which will air on their over-the-air channel on Saturday nights.

The sub-licensing deal with the CBC is one of the most intriguing aspects of the deal. The CBC will have around 320 hours of primetime hockey. That probably equates to around 50 regular season games and 50 playoff games. There is no word yet on how CBC and Sportsnet will split-up the playoffs, except that the Stanley Cup Final will air on CBC. The sub-license will last for four years; however, in a news conference Rogers Media President Keith Pelley said that he hopes the deal with CBC can extend beyond four years. The CBC and Sportsnet will also work together to acquire and broadcast other major sports properties. Sub-licensing deals are already in place for the two networks to split the Grand Slam of Curling and 2014 FIFA World Cup.

In a letter to CBC employees President Hubert Lacroix outlined what the four-year deal means for the public broadcaster. CBC will no longer assume any control over production or content, although Sportsnet will consult with them. CBC also will not make any advertising revenue from the broadcasts; however, they also are not paying Rogers or the NHL a cent to show the games. Lacroix also notes that the loss of advertising revenue will mean job losses at the CBC. These additional cuts come on the heels of CBC Sports cutting costs just two years ago due to a lack of funding.

This is a very complex deal and there are many questions that still need asked and answered. It is a complete game-changer in Canadian sports broadcasting and will result in many changes at CBC and TSN. I’ll leave the speculation, and there is lots of it, for a later date (and the comments section). I do plan to look into the effects this deal will have on all networks, but especially the CBC, in the coming weeks.

Canadian Sports Ratings Update: February 12

Here are the latest sports ratings for the first third of February.

NFL
Kickoff Show, Feb 3, CTV: 3.196 million
SF-BAL, Feb 3, CTV: 6.447 million (+ 750, 000 on RDS)

Also worth noting that the postgame SportsCentre that aired on TSN, remember CTV didn’t really have a postgame show, averaged around a million viewers from 11pm-midnight on TSN. That is almost better than Motive, which had 1.23 million viewers on CTV.

NHL
MTL-OTT, Jan 30, RDS: 696, 000
BUF-MTL, Feb 2, RDS: 811, 000
BOS-TOR, Feb 2, CBC: 2.189 million
OTT-MTL, Feb 3, RDS: 1.052 million
CAR-TOR, Feb 4, SNO: 784, 000
BOS-MTL, Feb 6, RDS: 887, 000
WPG-OTT/EDM-DET, Feb 9, CBC: 1.054 million
TOR-MTL, Feb 9, CBC: 2.408 million
CGY-VAN, Feb 9, CBC: 1.473 million

NBA
MEM-OKC, Jan 31, TSN: 76, 000
DAL-GS, Jan 31, TSN: 26, 000
LAC-TOR, Feb 1, TSN: 309, 000
BOS-TOR, Feb 6, SN: 141, 000

All numbers are BBM 2+ average minute audiences. Thanks to Bill Brioux and Whitey Fisk.

HNIC ratings have evened out after their above-average start. The Winnipeg-Ottawa game was down close to half a million viewers compared to their encounter on opening day. Toronto-Montreal was down almost a million. After a dip to under 2 million viewers on January 26, the Prime East game has now hit the 2 million mark three times in the first four weeks of the season. The Prime West game has also drawn at least a million viewers all but once.

But, as I said, audiences have leveled out. This year’s average Hockey Day ratings for the three games are even with last season’s numbers at 1.6 million. So, in English Canada at least, the post-lockout fad has gone back to the usual ratings. No word yet on how the rest of the CBC’s daylong celebration of hockey did.

Meanwhile a revitalized Canadiens team is great news for RDS in Quebec. Canadiens ratings are surging giving RDS multiple spots in the Quebec top 30 every week so far. Through February 6 (or 8 games), the Canadiens are averaging over 900, 000 viewers on RDS. Montreal’s numbers in Quebec (on RDS) are better than the Leafs in Ontario (on Sportsnet) so far. Of course Sportsnet has shown a very limited number of Leafs games so far.

The “New” HNIC Needs a Few More Adjustments

CBC is under-using Andi Petrillo in her new role at the "iDesk"

CBC is under-using Andi Petrillo in her new role at the “iDesk”

CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada began its 60th season on Saturday with record ratings. There were a number of changes to CBC’s broadcasts, especially to the studio programming and the “Prime West” game. While some of CBC’s changes were effective, others need tweaking. And still others made no sense whatsoever. And, of course, it wouldn’t be the first weekend of a new NHL season without Don Cherry analysis on the Brian Burke firing (remember when Burke tried to have Cherry fired?).

I’ll start with the good. I think Kevin Weekes and Glenn Healy are both far more effective in studio than they are on game broadcasts. Weekes is especially good as the slower pace of studio talk fits his delivery better. Healy’s better if only because I’d rather hear him for 10 minutes than 60+. In fact I actually thought he was kind of funny Saturday night, more like his pre-NHLPA self. I also think CBC giving Rick Ball the “Prime West” game was a great choice. He isn’t Cuthbert or Hughson, but he is far better than Lee and should grow into the spot fine. He is also a great candidate to lead CBC’s CFL coverage, should they ever get those broadcast rights again.

The only problem about Weekes and Healy in the studio is that Kelly Hrudey is also a better studio analyst. He really seemed out of his element doing colour commentary on Saturday night. He constantly stumbled over sentences and was just too slow to keep up with the pace of the game. Hrudey is at his best when he’s in the studio with a telestrator breaking down plays. This presents the obvious problem for CBC, they have too many goalies who all excel at the same thing.

So how do they fix that problem? Well most importantly there’s still plenty of time for Hrudey to adjust to his new role. If he doesn’t, I’d suggest moving him back to the studio with Weekes. CBC could also try putting Hrudey between the benches.If all else fails, then I’d love to see Daryl Reaugh back at CBC working the late game with Ball. Of course that would also depend on Reaugh’s commitment to do local Dallas Stars game on Fox Sports.

Luckily for Hrudey, it isn’t him everyone will remember Saturday HNIC season opener for. PJ Stock drew the ire of most of Twitter on Saturday night for his studio analysis. The “best” of Stock’s lines? “Take option ‘A’ or option ‘B’. [Toronto] didn’t beat Jack the Giant Killer in Montreal.” If you can figure that one out, then good on ya. And yes, I realize it’s a metaphor to the story, but it’s also a metaphor that makes little sense.

Stock also talked in circles during the Hotstove when he got confused about P.K. Subban’s contract negotiations. Or as Stock put it, “With him in the lineup they finished 15th, without him they can’t finish any worse.”  Well, duh, unless the NHL adds a 16th team to the Eastern Conference the Habs could skate a team of any 18 guys they like and not finish any worse. Stock also said he sells, which is great, but it’s not like this is Nashville or Phoenix. The Canadiens selling tickets and merchandise isn’t dependent on P.K. Subban. For CBC’s studio programming to improve, Stock needs to go.

Ron MacLean, Kevin Weekes and Elliotte Friedman followed up Stock’s “analysis” with some insight, rebuttal and facts, which I thought was great. Healy also put Stock in his place on the NHL lockout, where Stock thought the players did good to get to 50% HRR. Did anyone really believe the players would get less than a 50/50 split on HRR? Stock went on to talk over Healy.

Getting rid of Stock would also help improve CBC’s Hotstove, which was once the best sports studio programming on TV anywhere in North America. Of course that was also before the Twitter age (Satellite Hotstove, anyone?) when Saturday night was the time to get the latest trade rumours. The Hotstove, as it originally was, may not work anymore because of Twitter and 24/7 insider coverage on TSN with McKenzie and Dreger. But regardless, I’m not alone (see other media writers). If CBC is insistent on using the current format, then removing Stock and replacing him with Tim Wharnsby would probably do it for me. At least Weekes and Healy have their facts straight. Friedman needs more speaking time.

And then there were two things that were just odd about CBC’s broadcast on Saturday. The first was Andi Petrillo. Despite hosting the “iDesk” segment, there was no desk whatsoever. And the camera angles the CBC choose to use didn’t really help their case. Like her predecessors at the iDesk (Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek), CBC is wasting her talent on a useless segment. There is nothing worse than reading Tweets on-air, and it is becoming more common on every network. CBC should use her as the rinkside reporter for the afternoon game (when there is one). That would account for about 1/3 of their broadcasts this season. It’s great that she’s the first female studio host for HNIC, but what’s not great is the way they are using her.

The other oddity of CBC’s coverage was the second Don Cherry segment, at the first intermission of the Ducks @ Canucks game. It seems CBC has removed Cherry’s post-Leafs game segment for this one, which is odd in itself. What is even more odd is the arrangement. Ron MacLean sits down, while Don Cherry stands up awkwardly towering over MacLean. It was nice to see Cherry talk about teams outside the Northeast Division for once though.

Hockey Night in Canada will originate live from Calgary next Saturday. MacLean and Cherry will both be there. I’m not sure about the rest of CBC’s studio crew. Hockey Night will visit all seven Canadian cities this season.

Fact Checking… I thought Cherry was mostly on point with his Brian Burke analysis. Usually his line “Instead of getting Canadians he got US college guys and Finns and Swedes” would draw a lot of attention. Not so because of the rest of CBC’s studio programming. Anyone want to guess how many “Finns and Swedes” the Leafs have? Two, one from each country. They also have a, dare I say it, Russian.

HockeyCentral… Speaking of studio programming, Sportsnet’s HockeyCentral needs more Jeff Marek and Billy Jaffe. They two hosted the first HockeyCentral Tonight of the season on Monday and were excellent together. Jaffe never played in the NHL, he played college hockey at Michigan, but he sees the game brilliantly. His comparison of Patrick Kane’s goal on Saturday and Kyle Turris’ goal last night was great insight.

Sportsnet Scorebug… Sportsnet’s new hockey scorebug is a huge upgrade over their old one. It is very similar to the one Leafs TV used last season and it is designed by a Canadian.

2013 Hockey Night in Canada Schedule

Defending Norris winner Erik Karlsson and the Ottawa Senators open the 2013 season in Winnipeg on CBC next Saturday

Defending Norris winner Erik Karlsson and the Ottawa Senators open the 2013 season in Winnipeg on CBC next Saturday

CBC is usually broadcasting hockey games on Saturday nights in January, not announcing which games they will broadcast. Everything will return to normal in one week. CBC will broadcast games on 15 Saturday nights this season with limited regional action (at most there are two-way splits at 7pm). CBC will also broadcast six Saturday afternoon games in five windows, including the season-opener between the Senators and Jets next weekend. Another matinee will air on Super Bowl Sunday. Three more games will air on Thursday and Friday nights. And lost in all of the lockout talk is the fact that this is the 60th season of Hockey Night in Canada.

CBC’s schedule is highlighted by 18 all-Canadian matchups and ten Original Six games. The Canadiens lead the way with 16 games on CBC; the Leafs follow with 14 (March 2 is the only Saturday they don’t play). Ottawa and Vancouver has eight appearances each, while Winnipeg, Edmonton and Calgary all have seven.

Hockey Day in Canada is February 9. Winnipeg-Ottawa, Edmonton-Detroit, Toronto-Montreal and Calgary-Vancouver highlight more than 12 hours of hockey programming on CBC. Peterborough, Ontario will host Hockey Day this year. Lloydminster was originally schedule to host; however, it cancelled activities due to the chance the lockout would cancel the season. Lloydminster will host Hockey Day in 2014.

CBC will announce more information on the 60th season of Hockey Night in Canada later this week. For now, here is the broadcast schedule in PDF format. And here is CBC’s full press release.

No Hockey Hurts CBC More Than Most Others

Chances are both professional hockey players and the NHL’s 30 owners will come out of the lockout just fine. As the argument goes, it’s a battle of millionaires against billionaires. Sure neither is making money now, but both will be (if a fair, sensible CBA is agreed upon), sometime within the next year. Looking past the players and owners, and even the fans who will have to find something else to do on cold evenings during Canadian winter, there are many who are truly hurt by this lockout. Those who work at NHL offices (which are affected by cuts already), undoubtably the teams themselves will make cuts too, those who work at the arenas that are now empty for weeks at a time in some cases. And I’m sure there are countless others.

But, considering the focus of this blog, it seems only right to focus on the members of the media. TSN and Sportsnet will have no problem keeping their hockey personalities busy between retro games with new studio shows (on TSN), AHL/CHL games (on Sportsnet) and countless segments on every second of Donald Fehr’s life on the highlight and talk shows. There’s little doubt that these jobs are in jeopardy. However, the freelancers who work behind the scenes are left scrambling. Sure some will find work on those AHL and CHL games (and other events too), but some won’t.

And then there’s the CBC. The public broadcaster relies on NHL hockey, which is consistently its top-rated weekly program, to generate revenue to help finance other CBC programs. The government recently cut funding to CBC, including CBC Sports. Now not only does CBC have to find replacement programming for four hours a week (taking out three hours for a classic game), but they also have to find other streams of revenue in the face of cuts and a loss of expected revenue from hockey.

Last time Gary Bettman announced the NHL would lose a full season, news soon followed that Chris Cuthbert had been cut by the CBC. Even though he expected to become Hockey Night in Canada‘s primary play-by-play commentator, CBC couldn’t commit to paying his salary with taxpayer dollars (among other things, I should point out) when there were no hockey games for him to call. I’m not saying that CBC will cut Jim Hughson, Mark Lee, or anyone else this time, but they ware in a better economic position eight years ago. If they had to cut HNIC spending then, it would be reasonable to assume they might now too.

CBC will need to find work for high-profile Hockey Night personalities during the lockout. Sports Weekend returns from its summer hiatus in two weeks. Sports featured this winter include figure skating, alpine skiing, speed skating, bobsleigh and curling. Mark Lee has experience calling figure skating. I’d recommend using Scott Oake on ski racing, where excelled during CBC’s 2002 and 2006 Olympic coverage. Of course using HNIC personalities on Sports Weekend could prevent CBC’a amateur sports regulars, like Brenda Irving and Steve Armitage, from getting assignments.

Ron MacLean will host CBC’s classic broadcasts on Saturday nights, a similar role to his hosting of Movie Night in Canada in 2004.

Quebec vs. Montreal… It’s a rivalry that hasn’t happened in the NHL in over 15 years. NHLPA players have organized a series of charity games between teams featuring NHL players from Quebec City and Montreal. The players will compete for their city. With the Canadiens opening game for Thursday cancelled, RDS has elected to show one of these games instead. It will air on RDS INFO, while RDS has baseball and RDS2 has NFL.

Sportsnet not showing A’s-Tigers… No doubt viewers across Canada were as confused as I was when a classic 1979 MLB game (clearly from MLB Network) showed up on TV screens nationwide Sunday afternoon. Sportsnet missed he first inning of the Athletics @ Tigers game before restoring the correct MLB Network feed. Word from Sportsnet is MLB Network initially set them the wrong feed. They then had to get in contact with MLB Network to get the other feed (that the game was on) approved.

Jamie Campbell initially laid the blame on MLB Network. Turns out that was a bit rash, but he was probably as confused as the viewers, to be fair.

Costas on MLB Network... Bob Costas will return to calling postseason baseball for the first time since the 2000 ALCS. Costas will call the Cardinals @ Nationals game with Jim Kaat tomorrow afternoon for MLB Network (1:00pm, Sportsnet). Costas has called regular season baseball on MLB Network for the past couple seasons; however, these games are usually not available on Canadian television.

Other baseball playoff games tomorrow are Giants @ Reds (4:00pm, Sportsnet; if necessary), Orioles @ Yankees (7:30pm, Sportsnet) and Tigers @ Athletics (9:30pm, SN1; if necessary). If the Reds and Tigers win tonight, the Orioles @ Yankees game will move to 8:30pm.

9.79*… ESPN’s 30 for 30 is back for a second season (or third, depending on how you count). The first of the new docs to air in Canada is “9.79*”, the story of Ben Johnson, Carl Lewis and the men’s 100m final at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul. Most are familiar with the story. Johnson, a Canadian, won the race. He was later banned because he tested positive for steroids. As a result Lewis, who is arguably the best Olympian ever, moved up from silver to gold.

The film recently premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. You can see the TIFF trailer here. It will air Thursday night at 8:30pm ET on TSN. The second season of 30 for 30 will continue on Thursdays over much of October, November and December.

Shaw Direct simsubs… I tend not to complain about simsubs. They support the Canadian broadcast industry. However, sometimes things go too far and consumers have the right to know more. Shaw Direct recently began carrying Citytv HD Toronto. That’s all fine; however, shows on that channel are now simsubbed over the American channels everywhere in Canada. Even here in Atlantic Canada, where the closest Citytv affiliate is in Toronto, we have to watch Citytv.

I never received any simsubs on Shaw Direct until they bought Global, at which point they started simsubbing Global HD nationwide. Personally, I didn’t really have a problem with this. At least when Shaw bought Global they also added Global Saint John to the Shaw Direct line-up and launched a New Brunswick specific newscast (the only one by a private broadcaster). It was easily visible how this simsubbing revenue was having a positive impact on local television here in New Brunswick. I’m not so okay with having to watch Citytv when Rogers has no local programming (let alone a channel) in the Maritimes and for that matter, they don’t have very much original programming whatsoever.

NCAA FB games… Usually when there is a major college football game on an American cable channel, Canadian fans get the shaft as it rarely airs here. That’s not the case this Saturday when #3 South Carolina travel to Death Valley to face #9 LSU on ESPN (airs at 8pm ET on TSN2 in Canada). Fans have two selections at 12:00pm as #6 Kansas States faces Iowa State on SN1 and Iowa travels to Michigan State on TSN2.

Check back later in the week for CFL weekend ratings (as well as baseball playoffs, maybe), this weekend’s NFL games on Canadian TV, some Engraved on a Nation news, and an update on the World Cup Qualifying games that will air this weekend.

5toWatch:

  • MLB: There is potential quadruple header postseason baseball both Wednesday and Thursday (as of writing this the Giants and Reds are tied 1-1 in the 9th). Games are tentatively scheduled for 1:00, 4:00, 7:30 and 9:30 both nights. All on Sportsnet or Sportsnet One. Get watching!
  • FIFA WC Qualifying: As an Ireland supported, I can’t even begin to express my excitement that Irish home matches aren’t on PPV now. Ireland’s new World Cup qualifying home campaign begins Friday against Germany at the Aviva (2:30pm, GolTV). Among other key games, next Tuesday (October 16) Canada will travel to Honduras to play our final game in the current stage of CONCACAF qualifying (4:00pm, Sportsnet). The Canadian team will likely need at least a point to advance to the next round.
  • College Football: There are plenty of big college football games this weekend, including four that pit two top-25 teams against each other. My best bets are #13 Oklahoma vs. #15 Texas at the Cotton Bowl (12:00pm, ABC), #17 Stanford @ #7 Notre Dame (3:30pm, NBC), and #3 South Carolina @ #9 LSU (8:00pm, TSN2).
  • Alouettes-Argonauts:  Who would have thought that Toronto would could overtake Montreal in the standings on a Sunday afternoon in October (1:00pm, TSN). Well, they do. A slightly mediocre (by their standards) Alouettes season and a surprisingly good campaign for the Argos have led to this.
  • NFL: There are only two games this week that match-up two teams with winning records, and they both air in the late timeslot Sunday afternoon. The Patriots and Seahawks are both 3-2 heading into their game at Qwest Field (4:05pm, CBS). Viewers who receive CBS from Seattle, Boston or Detroit will get this game. The 3-2 Giants also travel to the Bay Area to face the 4-1 49ers (4:25pm, FOX). This game will air on pretty much every FOX station available in Canada, except FOX Seattle.

Stanley Cup Final 2012: Starts Wednesday on CBC, NBC and RDS

The 2012 Stanley Cup Final begins Wednesday May 30 in Newark, New Jersey. CBC and RDS will show all 7 games in Canada, while NBC will broadcast games 1 & 2 and 4 through 7. Here is CBC’s press release, then the schedule, followed by the NBC and RDS press releases after the break.

After three grueling playoff rounds comprised of 80 games in 45 days, 14 teams have been sent home empty handed. The Eastern Conference Champion New Jersey Devils and the Western Conference Champion Los Angeles Kings remain to do battle for hockey’s biggest prize in the 2012 Stanley Cup Final, exclusively on CBC’S HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA. Live coverage of the entire best-of-seven series is available on CBC-TV and streaming live at CBCSports.ca.

“The last month and a half of Stanley Cup Playoff action has been filled with unscripted drama and excitement and with the Kings and Devils facing off in the Final, we don’t expect that to change,” said Julie Bristow, CBC’s Executive Director of Studio and Unscripted Programming. “This is what hockey fans across Canada have been waiting for all year, the two best teams in this year’s playoffs going head to head for the Stanley Cup on hockey’s biggest stage – CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada.”

The action gets underway on CBC’S HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA with Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday, May 30 at 8 p.m. ET when Jonathan Quick, Dustin Brown and the rest of the Kings visit the Prudential Center to take on Martin Brodeur, Zach Parise and the Devils. Jim Hughson provides play-by-play for the Final alongside analyst Craig Simpson who joins him in the broadcast booth, while Glenn Healy provides additional analysis from between the benches with Scott Oake and Elliotte Friedman reporting from rinkside.

Ron MacLean hosts CBC’S HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA’s coverage of the 2012 Stanley Cup Final along with Kelly Hrudey and P.J. Stock, providing insight and analysis for each game. Don Cherry and Coach’s Corner returns in the first intermission while the second intermission features the Hot Stove and Andi Petrillo at the Chevrolet I-Desk. Scotiabank Hockey Tonight precedes Games 1 and 2 and Games 5 through 7 if necessary.

“The Stanley Cup Final on Hockey Night in Canada is a tradition that has been bringing Canadians together for the last 59 years,” said Trevor Pilling, Head of Programming, CBC Sports and Hockey Night in Canada. “We pride ourselves on bringing the fans closer to the action and deeper into the stories every night as we live the excitement of the game together from across the country.”

On Sunday, June 3 at 9 p.m. local (9:30 p.m. NDT), CBC will air a behind-the-scenes look at this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs with Inside the Cup. The special is an authentic behind the scenes look into what the two conference champions have endured on the road to the cup and features commentary captured by microphones worn by players during the first three rounds of the Playoffs. Inside the Cup offers a unique look into the passion and intensity players feel as they battle for a chance to raise the Stanley Cup.

With every game broadcast also streaming live online at cbcsports.ca, viewers on the go can remain connected to the action. Download the Hockey Night in Canada mobile app for instant access to news, analysis and game highlights and enjoy the ultimate “second screen” experience, Hockey Night Playoff Pulse, as it captures the heartbeat of a nation through in-game polls, pools and near-live access to the best three minutes from every game.

Hockey Night in Canada Radio on SiriusXM hosted Gord Stellick continues Monday through Friday from 3-6 p.m. ET on channel 157. Show podcasts are also available for download from the iTunes Store.

Hockey Night in Canada Punjabi presented by Chevrolet continues with Harnarayan Singh handling play-by-play duties for the Stanley Cup Final. The Punjabi broadcasts will be available on Rogers Cable channel 799, Shaw Digital TV channel 328, Shaw Direct classic channel 480 and advanced channel 429, TELUS Optik TV channel 131 and on Bell TV and FIBE TV channel 232 and will also be streamed live and on-demand on CBCSports.ca.

Here is the 2012 Stanley Cup Final schedule. All times are Eastern.

(E6) New Jersey Devils vs. (W8) Los Angeles Kings
Game 1 – Wednesday 5/30 at 8:00pm ET on CBC*, NBC, RDS
Game 2 – Saturday 6/2 at 8:00pm ET on CBC*, NBC, RDS
Game 3 – Monday 6/4 at 8:00pm ET on CBC, RDS
Game 4 – Wednesday 6/6 at 8:00pm ET on CBC, RDS
Game 5 – Saturday 6/9 at 8:00pm ET on CBC*, NBC, RDS
Game 6 – Monday 6/11 at 8:00pm ET on CBC*, NBC, RDS
Game 7 – Wednesday 6/13 at 8:00pm ET on CBC*, NBC, RDS

*A 30 minute Hockey Tonight pregame show will air at 7:3opm ET on CBC before these games.

TSN will also show a 1-hour edition of That’s Hockey before all weekday Stanley Cup Final games. That’s Hockey 2 Nite will follow every game on TSN2.

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A Busy Weekend in Sports Ahead

Is there any better weekend for sports than U.S. Memorial Day weekend? Sure, we had our long weekend last week, but nothing can compare to the sports events in America (and around the world) this weekend. Here are some quick thoughts/reminders on what’s on.

  • Bigger than anything else, for me at least, is the Memorial Cup. The local Saint John Sea Dogs are playing hosts Shawinigan in the semifinal tonight (7pm ET, Sportsnet). The winner gets a birth in the final Sunday night against London (also 7pm ET, Sportsnet). The Sea Dogs are the defending champions, while the Knights are of the most decorated franchises in CHL history. I’ve really enjoyed Sportsnet’s rejuvenated coverage of junior hockey this season. The weekly Friday Night Hockey broadcast has a 90s-esque Hockey Night in Canada feel. It is THE place to see junior hockey on a weekly basis, much like Hockey Night was for the NHL before TSN and Sportsnet began showing games every night. I’ll have more on this next week.
  • While I prefer the Memorial Cup, the highest ratings earner this weekend will surely be game 6 (and possibly 7) of the Eastern Conference Final between New Jersey and the Rangers. Game 6 goes tonight (8pm ET, CBC). I haven’t seen ratings for game 5 yet, but game 4 hit 1.42 million viewers Monday night. Season finales (House, Dancing with the Stars and American Idol this week) and the lack of Canadian teams have resulted in low Conference Finals ratings for CBC. Game 5 of the East Final last year (Boston vs. Tampa Bay) averaged 2.29 million viewers on CBC.
  • FOX’s Saturday Baseball heads to primetime for the second straight week this Saturday. Sportsnet One will show Tampa Bay @ Boston (commentators: Dick Stockton and Brian Anderson). This game is also on many of the Eastern Fox stations available in Canada, including Boston, Buffalo and Rochester. Those with FOX stations from Seattle and Spokane will get Anaheim @ Seattle (commentators: Victor Rojas and Eric Byrnes). I like Fox showing primetime Saturday baseball in May and June. It coincides nicely with the end of Saturday night NHL hockey.
  • Going head-to-head with FOX baseball on Saturday night is ABC’s coverage of game 7 of an NBA playoff series between the Celtics and 76ers (8pm, ABC). The NBA’s Conference Finals begin on Sunday as the Thunder visit the Spurs (8:30pm, TSN).
  • The Roland Garros Tournament starts Sunday on TSN2. The men’s final will air on CTV Two to protect the start of the Canadian Grand Prix on TSN. TSN will use a mix of ESPN, international feed and NBC coverage.
  • A big weekend in racing. The crown jewel of Formula 1, the Monaco Grand Prix starts off a long Sunday for race fans (7:55am ET, TSN); then its the 96th running of the Indianapolis 500, which will feature tributes to Dan Wheldon (11am, ABC); as usual, NASCAR’s longest race, The Coca-Cola 600 caps off the evening from Charlotte (5:30pm ET, FOX).
  • The Indian Premier League championship match is Sunday morning (10am, Sportsnet) as Kolkata faces Chennai. While the league’s world television ratings have fallen in 2012, coverage in Canada has increased vastly. Just last season the final was only available on PPV. I am interested to see if the league, which goes against all traditions of cricket, is sustainable long-term. Especially now that it has competition from other countries, such as Australia’s Big Bash League. There is also talk of a potential American league, which could start as early as next year. Many in traditional cricket markets think Twenty20 is perfect for American television, due to its similarities to baseball.
  • Golf even has a couple of big events this weekend. In Europe there is the British PGA Championship, the second largest event on the continent (after the Open Championship). England’s James Morrison is the surprise leader through two rounds (-12). Luke Donald, Alvaro Quiros and Juston Rose aren’t far behind though. Golf Channel has the final two rounds on Saturday and Sunday. This side of the Atlantic there is the Senior PGA Championship. I’d argue that outside of the majors and the very top PGA Tour events, the Senior majors still have the most attraction to the average sports fan.

Ron MacLean Compares 9/11 and Hockey; Apologizes

“It’s New York and Washington. The economic and political engines of America. United in the birth of the country; they were also linked in tragedy. They were the twin targets of the coordinated attacks on 9/11 and it’s crazy to compare what the emergency responders did during that time, but a spirit has to start somewhere… You can’t help but be struck by the players and how they’ve played these games. They are like police officers, they are like firefighters. You can’t fight fire with ego.”

Those were the words Ron MacLean presented as Hockey Night in Canada came on the air for game 6 last night in Washington. My only question is, why? Why even bring up 9/11. We all know what happened 11 years ago, but it really has no relevance for the hockey game. And comparing 40 hockey players to those who risked (and in some cases gave) their lives to save others just seems stupid and pointless.

I think the bigger problem for MacLean is he tries too hard. It seems he’s always trying to come up with the big pun. Or the big opening for the big game. How about a couple stats on the series? Maybe some history from the last time New York was up 3-2 on the Caps in the playoffs? If he didn’t try so hard for the big comparisons and the big puns he would be a better host.

Usually it is MacLean’s Coach’s Corner sidekick Don Cherry who has to issue apologies. Today it was MacLean and the CBC Communications team who had to. Here is their release.

As Hockey Night In Canada went to air for last night’s game between Washington and New York, in his opening remarks, Ron MacLean described the on-going battle between the two teams and made reference to the respective cities, both of which were 9/11 targets.

Ron and CBC would like to clarify what may have been misunderstood by his comments.

“Washington and New York. The two cities united by the tragedy of 9/11. I, like everyone on the planet in his or her lifetime, saw beyond the horror, the single greatest testament to the strength of the human spirit in the efforts of the first responders”, says Ron Maclean.

“We never know if we’ll have that spirit. The bravery, the resilience. As I made clear, the hockey games in no way compare. However Sports has proven a worthy training ground in nurturing the qualities which beget that spirit. To say he plays like a firefighter or a policeman would instantly conjure the traits an athlete most desires, especially in New York and Washington. There could be no higher praise of a player, no greater choice of a role model .

But as I said of first responders, ‘Our worst day is their everyday’. They stand alone.”

NHL Playoff Coverage Up in Round 1; Under the Radar in Round 2

2012 might be one of the most Jekyll and Hyde playoffs in the NHL’s history. Especially in terms of television coverage and ratings. Round one was great. It grabbed all the headlines. There were three seven game series. CBC averaged over a million viewers for three of the four series that Hockey Night in Canada broadcast. TSN averaged almost 1.5 million for Penguins vs. Flyers, a record for a 1st round series on the network that didn’t feature a Canadian team

In all TSN averaged 927, 000 viewers over 21 games. A 41% increase over last season. According to BBM numbers (however accurate they are), 42% of Canadians watched at least a minute on TSN’s first round coverage. CBC averaged about 1.7 million viewers, or almost double TSN. That’s not surprising, of course, considering they had 12 games featuring Canadian teams. CBC also boasted that about half of Canadians tuned into their coverage. Obviously there is overlap in viewers between both networks.

With the Senators and Canucks flaming out in the first round, and teams like Phoenix, Nashville, Philadelphia, Washington and St. Louis advancing to the second round over more popular teams such as Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Boston and San Jose, the second round ratings have fallen. Dramatically. CBC’s highest rating in the first week of the second round was 1.6 million for the OT game between the Rangers and Capitals. CBC has yet to release any ratings this week.

You’d think TSN were guarding the secret to the Holy Grail (and I don’t mean the Stanley Cup) the way they’ve kept quiet about second round ratings. TSN’s PR department has only released one number so far, 1.2 million for game one of the Kings-Blues series. I think its safe to say every game since has averaged under a million viewers.

Oh Baby… I’ve read lots of comments this year about the quality, or lack-there-of, of CBC’s legendary broadcaster Bob Cole. Cole takes the heat for hid downhill slide, he is 78 years old now, every spring. This year more have spoken up though. Many viewers are upset with CBC using Cole instead of Mark Lee or Dean Brown. Many cite his inability to follow the play and identify players as reasons the public broadcaster should remove him from action.

I’ve always loved Cole, his voice is one of the best. He gives every playoff game a “big game” feel. Mike Emrick and Chris Cuthbert are really the only others who do that for me. However, his time to step aside as CBC’s #2 commentator is coming soon. He should continue doing regional games and even a first round playoff series. However, I think Mark Lee has improved enough to become CBC’s number two. I’d also consider using Dean Brown and Garry Galley as the #3 team, if I was CBC. Dropping Cole and Millen to #4.

It is worth remembering that HNIC doesn’t always give into public pressure. Case in point: Don Cherry.

As far as Cole and Garry getting the nod over Lee and Weekes, it is almost certainly contractual. So unless CBC wants to fire Cole, they are probably stuck with the current arrangement. I would like to see Weeks move into Glenn Healy’s position though. Healy fits better in any role where Canadians don’t actually have to hear him say “Karlsson is the straw that stirs the Senators drink” week after week.

Other commentators… Of course Cole isn’t the only one taking flack online. It seems every commentator has their haters, as is the nature of the job, I guess. In the comment section of a recent The Globe article every commentator from Chris Cuthbert to Mike Emrick to Pierre McGuire gets bashed by at least one reader. The shit these guys have to put up with in the 21st century with social media is amazing. Especially considering they are (mostly) all great professionals, great guys and the best at what they do. Everyone has their likes and dislikes, but before you send them a Twitter comment, remember that.

Studio analysts… Kudos to CBC for bringing in NHL head coaches Bruce Boudreau and Kirk Muller as guest studio analysts. Boudreau in particular is a breath of fresh air to CBC’s stale studio show. Nobody knows the Capitals players like he does. I’ll admit to not watching every Coach’s Corner so far, but from what I’ve seen Don Cherry has been right more often than not. I can’t believe I’m actually saying that. CBC should also strongly consider using Tim Wharnsby on The Hotstove next season. He made a guest appearance on Sunday and was, well, better than Healy or Francis.

NHL Conference Finals… TSN will most certainly show games 1-3 of the Western Conference Final. When it begins is still to-be-confirmed. The general sense is if both eastern series wrap up by tomorrow night, it will start Friday, with HNIC getting game 1 of the East Final on Saturday. If not, it might wait until Sunday. CBC will almost certainly either have a game 7 or game 1 on Saturday night though.

If the Kings, Lakers and Clippers continue to play well, the scheduling committees at their respective leagues are going to have headaches. During the scheduled time of the Stanley Cup Final, and NBA Conference Finals, Val Halen, LMAFO and Nickelback are all scheduled to play Staples Center. Yikes.

NBA playoffs… Speaking of under-the-radar, you’d seek out NBA highlights to find them on TSN or Sportsnet. As least with TSN down to only 3 NHL games left, many NBA games will air on TSN, not TSN2, now.

Manchester Derby… Yes it was over a week ago, but ESPN’s coverage of the Manchester Derby was fantastic. Ian Darke proved he is one of the best soccer commentators in the world and Steve McManaman hid any anti-Manchester United bias well. Certainly better than ex-Manchester City player Niall Quinn did on Sky. ESPN’s soccer coverage is among the best things they do.

EURO 2012… No word yet on what commentary feed TSN will use for EURO 2012. I’m hoping for ESPN, who are using Darke, former Champions League/current Scottish Premier League commentator Derek Rae and MLS commentator Adrian Healey. There isn’t a better line-up of commentators in the world for this event, including BBC and ITV in Britain.

Premier League week 38…. I’ve heard a lot of complaints that TSN and Sportsnet are only showing four live Premiership matches this Sunday. Most in Britain would love to have four games on live. I’ll have more on the final day of the Premier League, La Liga and Serie A seasons later this week.

2012 NHL Conference Semifinals Schedule

Here is the 2012 NHL conference semifinals schedule. First is a night-by-night look, then continue after the break for a series-by-series breakdown.

Friday April 27
9:00pm, Nashville Predators @ Phoenix Coyotes (g1) – TSN, RDS

Saturday April 28
3:00pm, Washington Capitals @ New York Rangers (g1) – CBC, NBC, RDS
7:30pm, Los Angeles Kings @ St. Louis Blues (g1) – TSN, RDS

Sunday April 29
3:00pm, New Jersey Devils @ Philadelphia Flyers (g1) – CBC, NBC, RDS
8:00pm, Nashville Predators @ Phoenix Coyotes (g2) – TSN, RDS

Monday April 30
7:30pm, Washington Capitals @ New York Rangers (g2) – CBC, RDS
9:00pm, Los Angeles Kings @ St. Louis Blues (g2) – TSN, RDS INFO

Tuesday May 1
7:30pm, New Jersey Devils @ Philadelphia Flyers (g2) – CBC, RDS

Wednesday May 2
7:30pm, New York Rangers @ Washington Capitals (g3) – CBC, RDS
9:00pm, Phoenix Coyotes @ Nashville Predators (g3) – TSN, RDS INFO

Thursday May 3
7:30pm, Philadelphia Flyers @ New Jersey Devils (g3) – CBC, RDS
10:00pm, St. Louis Blues @ Los Angeles Kings (g3) – TSN, RDS

Friday May 4
7:30pm, Phoenix Coyotes @ Nashville Predators (g4) – TSN, RDS

Saturday May 5
12:30pm, New York Rangers @ Washington Capitals (g4) – CBC, NBC, RDS

Sunday May 6
3:00pm, St. Louis Blues @ Los Angeles Kings (g4) – TSN, NBC, RDS
7:30pm, Philadelphia Flyers @ New Jersey Devils (g4) – CBC, RDS

Monday May 7
7:30pm, Washington Capitals @ New York Rangers (g5) – CBC, RDS
10:00pm, Nashville Predators @ Phoenix Coyotes (g5) – TSN, RDS

Tuesday May 8
TBA, New Jersey Devils @ Philadelphia Flyers (g5) – CBC, RDS
TBA, Los Angeles Kings @ St. Louis Blues (g5) – TSN, RDS INFO

Wednesday May 9
TBA, New York Rangers @ Washington Capitals (g6) – CBC, RDS
TBA, Phoenix Coyotes @ Nashville Predators (g6) – TSN, RDS INFO

Thursday May 10
TBA, Philadelphia Flyers @ New Jersey Devils (g6) – CBC, RDS
TBA, St. Louis Blues @ Los Angeles Kings (g6) – TSN, RDS

Friday May 11
TBA, Nashville Predators @ Phoenix Coyotes (g7) – TSN, RDS

Saturday May 12
TBA, Los Angeles Kings @ St. Louis Blues (g7) – TSN, RDS
TBA, New Jersey Devils @ Philadelphia Flyers (g7) – CBC, RDS
TBA, Washington Capitals @ New York Rangers (g7) – CBC, RDS

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2012 NHL Playoff Ratings: Update #4

There was lots of hockey on TV this past weekend. Multiple games averaged over a million viewers, including some in the afternoon. The Canucks set a new record for the 2012 playoffs, as their game on Sunday is the only one so far to average over 3 million viewers. Here are some NHL playoff ratings for April 20-22.

Friday April 20
7:30pm, PHI-PIT (g5), TSN: 1.878 million (479, 000 more on RDS)
8:00pm, DET-NSH (g5), CBC: 1.2 million

Saturday April 21
3:00pm, WSH-BOS (g5), CBC: 1.304 million*
7:00pm, OTT-NYR (g5), CBC: 2.3 million
7:30pm, SJ-STL (g5), TSN: 451, 000
10:00pm, CHI-PHX (g5), TSN: 919, 000

Sunday April 22
12:00pm, PIT-PHI (g6), TSN: 1.026 million*
3:00pm, BOS-WSH (g6, CBC: 1.4 million* (458, 000 more on RDS)
8:00pm, LA-VAN (g5), CBC: 3.34 million

* These games were also on NBC; those viewers are not counted.

The Kings vs. Canucks series is the highest rated so far, averaging 2.4 million. Flyers vs. Penguins averaged 1.42 million on TSN, which is great for an all-American series on a cable network. In contrast, Red Wings vs. Predators averaged half a million less at 911, 000 on CBC.

Check back on Wednesday evening for a complete report of the last week’s ratings, including more NHL and the Jays. At the end of the week I will post the rest of the 1st round ratings.

You can see the updated NHL playoff ratings database here. For the most up-to-date NHL playoff broadcasting news, including ratings, follow me on Twitter.

NHL Playoff TV Guide: April 23-24

There is an update to TSN’s commentators tonight, so here is an updated version of the NHL Playoff TV Guide for the next two days. I won’t have a chance to post tomorrow’s schedule tomorrow, so here it is today. These are all confirmed.

Monday April 23
7:00pm, New York Rangers @ Ottawa Senators – CBC, RDS
CBC: Bob Cole, Garry Galley & Glenn Healy (reporter: Cassie Campbell)
RDS: Pierre Houde & Marc Denis

9:00pm, Phoenix Coyotes @ Chicago Blackhawks – TSN*, RDS INFO
Chris Cuthbert & Mike Johnson (reporter: Sara Orlesky)

Tuesday April 24
7:30pm, Florida Panthers @ New Jersey Devils – TSN, RDS
Gord Miller & Ray Ferraro (reporter: Katherine Dolan)

* A 30 minute pre-game show will air before this game.

I will post the schedule for Wednesday and Thursday on Wednesday afternoon. Also, look for some ratings for the weekend later today.

2012 NHL Playoff Ratings: Update #3

The 2012 NHL playoffs are more than a week old now. Three series have moved ahead of the pack as the three most viewed. Last night all three collided as they were the only games on TV. Here are the ratings for what Monday April 16 through Wednesday April 18. Note that the ratings for Monday’s Blues @ Sharks game are unavailable.

Monday April 16
7:30pm, NYR-OTT (g3), CBC: 2.25 million

Tuesday April 17
7:00pm, FLA-NJ (g3), TSN: 500, 000
7:30pm, NSH-DET (g3), CBC: 1 million
9:00pm, CHI-PHX (g3), TSN: 730, 000

Wednesday April 18
7:30pm, PIT-PHI (g3), TSN: 1.412 million
7:30pm, NYR-OTT (g4), CBC: 1.405 million
10:00pm, VAN-LA (g3), CBC: 2.34 million

All ratings are BBM 2+ AMA.

So far the Canucks are winning the ratings battle with an average of 2.15 million Canadians tuning into their first four games. The Senators are a close second with an average of 1.84 million viewing their first four games. The Flyers-Penguins series comes solidly in 3rd averaging 1.41 million.

Those were the first three picks, and rightly so, by CBC and TSN. They are the only three series averaging over a million viewers per game. Two series do come in at just under a million though. Predators-Red Wings is averaging just over 800, 000. Coyotes-Blackhawks is averaging just over 750, 000 on TSN.

You can see the updated NHL playoff ratings database here. For the most up-to-date NHL playoff broadcasting news, including ratings, follow me on Twitter.

Canadian Sports Ratings Update: April 18, 2012

As expected, the ratings over the past week have been dominated by the NHL playoffs; however, the Blue Jays have held their ground as well. Here are your sports ratings for April 9-15, 2012. As always, thanks to TV Feeds My Family for posting these.

Stanley Cup Playoffs
PHI-PIT (g1), Apr 11, TSN: 1.49 million
DET-NSH (g1), Apr 11, CBC: 993, 000
LA-VAN (g1), Apr 11, CBC: 2.041 million
OTT-NYR (g1), Apr 12, CBC: 1.565 million
SJ-STL (g1), Apr 12, TSN: 592, 000
CHI-PHX (g1), Apr 12, TSN: 674, 000
DET-NSH (g2), Apr 13, CBC: 692, 000
LA-VAN (g2), Apr 13, CBC: 2.048 million
PHI-PIT (g2), Apr 13, TSN: 1.442 million
WSH-BOS (g2), Apr 14, CBC: 1.038 million
OTT-NYR (g2), Apr 14, CBC: 2.146 million
SJ-STL (g2), Apr 14, TSN: 352, 000
CHI-PHX (g2), Apr 14, TSN: 928, 000
NSH-DET (g3), Apr 15, CBC: 990, 000
PIT-PHI (g3), Apr 15, TSN: 1.299 million
NJ-FLA (g2), Apr 15, TSN: 1.137 million
VAN-LA (g3), Apr 15, CBC: 2.199 million

MLB
BOS-TOR, Apr 9, SN: 1.325 million (923, 000 were on SNO)
BOS-TOR, Apr 10, SN: 959, 000
BOS-TOR, Apr 11, SN: 443, 000
BAL-TOR, Apr 13, SN: 665, 000
BAL-TOR, Apr 14, SN: 796, 000
BAL-TOR, Apr 15, SN: 611, 000

Note: All numbers are BBM 2+ overnight AMA.

I also have a few more numbers. Game 3 of the Rangers @ Senators series on Monday averaged 2.25 million viewers, the highest of the playoffs so far.

Last night, without competition from the Flyers vs. Penguins, Predators @ Red Wings cracked a 1 million average on CBC.

Despite a thrilling game, Panthers @ Devils didn’t do so well last night. Only just over 500, 000 tuned in on TSN. Overtime certainly didn’t hurt the Coyotes @ Blackhawks game, as about 730, 000 watched that one on TSN.

You can see the updated NHL playoff ratings database here. For the most up-to-date NHL playoff broadcasting news, including ratings, follow me on Twitter.

CBC Releases NHL Conference Quarterfinal Broadcast Information

Here is what to expect on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada over the next couple of weeks.

The road to the Stanley Cup begins Wednesday, April 11 and CBC’S HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA is the exclusive home of both Canadian playoff teams as they begin their quests for hockey’s biggest prize. Along with Canada’s Stanley Cup hopefuls, CBC’S HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA has two more marquee 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs matchups featuring some of the game’s brightest stars, all in High-Definition and available live online at cbcsports.ca.

“Watching the Stanley Cup Playoffs on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada is a Canadian tradition for everyone from dedicated hockey fans to casual viewers,” said Julie Bristow, CBC’s Executive Director of Studio and Unscripted Programming. “With 50 days and nights of coverage from the drop of the first puck to the final horn in the Stanley Cup Final, we’re proud to continue the great tradition of providing viewers with innovative world class coverage and analysis that is second to none.”

The 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs on CBC’S HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA features a host of innovative social media applications that will make every game an interactive experience for viewers across the country. One such feature is the Hockey Night Playoff Pulse, which invites fans to engage online with cbcsports.ca through the ultimate “second screen” experience with in-game polls and pools where fans can challenge each other through Facebook and Twitter, plus live updated leader boards.

“Stanley Cup Playoff hockey is part of the Canadian fabric and, as the exciting action gets underway on Wednesday, we know millions of fans will be following closely to see who gets to hoist the Cup in June,” said NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly.

CBC’S HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA NHL playoff broadcast coverage kicks off with the Stanley Cup Countdown on Tuesday, April 10 at 8 p.m. local (8:30pm NT), in front of a live studio audience. Host Ron MacLean and analysts Kelly Hrudey and P.J. Stock will breakdown all eight first-round series and analyze the chances of the 16 teams vying for the Stanley Cup. Elliotte Freidman will also have breaking news from around the league.

The puck officially drops Wednesday, April 11 as CBC’S HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA kicks off its schedule with a must-see doubleheader. Ron MacLean hosts the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs along with Kelly Hrudey and P.J. Stock as coverage gets underway at 8 p.m. ET when Pavel Datsyuk and the Detroit Red Wings visit Shea Weber and the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena. The broadcast team for this Western Conference Quarterfinal includes play-by-play commentator Mark Lee and analyst Kevin Weekes (please see below for complete first round broadcast schedule and distribution).

Following the Detroit/Nashville game on Wednesday night, CBC’S HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA heads to Rogers Arena in Vancouver at 10:30 p.m. ET as Henrik Sedin and the Canucks square off against Jonathan Quick and the Los Angeles Kings. This Western Conference Quarterfinal best-of-seven showdown will be called by play-by-play commentator Jim Hughson, analyst Craig Simpson and reporter Scott Oake.

The excitement continues on Thursday, April 12 with another two games, beginning at 7 p.m. ET with Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers hosting Daniel Alfredsson and the Ottawa Senators at Madison Square Garden. The legendary Don Cherry and Coach’s Corner make their playoff debut during the first intermission, while play-by-play duties will be handled by Bob Cole who will be joined in the booth by analyst Garry Galley, with Glenn Healy providing analysis from between the benches and Cassie Campbell-Pascall reporting from rinkside.

Just after the puck drops in New York on the main CBC-TV network, CHEX has live coverage as Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals take on Zdeno Chara and the Boston Bruins at TD Garden at 7:30 p.m. ET. Dean Brown will call the series alongside analyst Greg Millen supported by rinkside reporter Andi Petrillo.

On Saturday, April 14 at 6:30 p.m. ET, CBC’S HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA sets the stage with Scotiabank Hockey Tonight, the pre-game show, followed by game two of the Ottawa/New York series.

The Vancouver/Los Angeles series will be featured on Hockey Night in Canada Punjabi presented by Chevrolet with Harnarayan Singh handling play-by-play duties. The Punjabi broadcasts will be available on Rogers Cable channel 799, Shaw Digital TV channel 328, Shaw Direct (channel TBD), TELUS Optik TV channel 131 and on Bell TV and FIBE TV channel 232 and will also be streamed live and on-demand on CBCSports.ca.

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