breaking news

James Duthie, Bob McKenzie & Darren Dreger Stay At TSN

December 5th, 2013 | by torontosportsmedia

By TSM

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quick hit as I am on the run.

Multiple sources have told me today that a part of the Rogers master plan was to have James Duthie be the face of it’s new Hockey Empire. Significant overtures were made to lure Duthie away from TSN but he has decided, along with Mckenzie and Dreger to stay at TSN.

What’s most telling me to is what this would have meant for the current hosts at Rogers and CBC. Specifically, Ron Maclean and Darren Millard.

I know Bob McCown said the other day that he didn’t think the discussions or plans around talent had begun, apparently they have and in a big way.

What Rogers does now, What the rest of the TSN crew does, all banger for later.

TSM

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40 Comments

  1. Poker Guy says:

    If true, this says a lot of what Rogers thinks of Mallard, MacLean, and Nik (those fuckers over at TSN) Kypreos.
    I think it’s widely thought that the TSN hockey panel is far superior of the Sportsnet panel, obviously Rogers did too. Score one for TSN..

  2. Ryan says:

    Wonder what Rogers will do without the heavy hitters (DD & MacKenzie). There’s no way Kypreos and MacLean can become anything but bit players now that Rogers owns it all.

  3. Raptors Devotee says:

    I don’t follow hockey that closely, and even I can see the difference between TSN and Sportsnet’s hockey coverage. This is a huge hit for Sportsnet, not to be able to poach TSN’s top talent, and speaks volumes for how dedicated and loyal they are to TSN. It is not like TSN won’t cover hockey, between the World Juniors and other NHL analysis, the audience won’t completely vanish, as long as they stick together, which appears to be the case, at least with the top level guys.

    Millard is a joke, and Ron Maclean is too joined at the hip to Cherry, and I can guarantee you Rogers will keep on looking to upgrade their talent level, as they should.

  4. mike (in boston) says:

    this is really interesting. I’m not a hockey fan — i’ll follow the Leafs if given a reason to do so — so i don’t watch or listen to the endless hours of programming devoted to hockey discussion. That said, there seems to be some consensus that TSN’s experts are in general better than SN’s. CBC should probably be in there too, but i don’t have a strong sense of how people feel about their experts.
    .

    I imagine there are lousy people on all 3 networks, but i’d be interested to hear who among the current talking heads people actually like watching/listening to the most.

    I presume no one likes MacLean, but does anyone like Kypreos? In terms of exposure, he’s made quite the career for himself post the “passed out on the ice” phase of his life.

  5. Steve Clark says:

    Mike (in Boston). I will be honest with you. I could listen to Doug MacLean all day long. He is not afraid to give opinion, or even parody his own past as a Coach/GM.

    As for Kypreous, seems to me he might have lost a bit of an edge. He used to be a lot more loose and funny when he interracted with Stellick and Landry, and when they played the greek music when he came on The Fan 590. He has become very serious. That said, he is a very good insider and seems to have a solid network of sources.

    I will disagree with the one who said that Ron and Don are joined at the hip. Maclean has done plenty of non-Cherry stuff with Battle of the Blades, Olympics, and hosting the NHL Awards Show (that one was not so good :-) )

    Other guys I like are Glenn Healy- when he remembers he has a sense of humour

    Kevin Weekes- great potential but very new in TV

    Kelly Hrudey- has become a surprisingly good colour analyst

    Don’t listen to many of the other Sportsnet guys enough to form an opinion.

  6. mario says:

    That’s not a surprise to me. Having said that it is very early in the process, there is still along way to go.Are they locked up long term? OR will here not be enough hockey at TSN were they will be happy?

  7. Jason says:

    That is a mild surprise but they do like TSN. I thought at least Dreger would of been a target for NBC but they will probably go after Gord Miller.

  8. kyle says:

    IMO, the big difference between the coverage provided by TSN and Sportsnet is that the two lead guys at TSN (Dreger and McKenzie) are journalists by trade who have spent many years in and around the hockey world, while at Sportsnet it’s two hockey guys (MacLean and Kypreos) who have fallen into the world of media.

  9. Mike V says:

    While this seems like a big deal now, I can easily see that this becomes another hockey song “coup” for TSN: A lot of chest thumping and boasting at the start but after a few years it seems totally pointless to get worked up over.

    I know that the TSN panel is seen as far superior to the Sportsnet one but honestly, I feel the perception is that the two are farther apart than they really are. Plus, content is king not the pundits in between the periods. And with that content now in the hands of Rogers, that perception will naturally start to change. TSN can’t use the national Wednesday night game and the playoffs to help keep its image anymore.

    Also, in a hockey mad country these aren’t the only three guys (really two, Dreger can be sent to cover the Siberia league for all I care) who can break stories or fill 10 minutes of airtime. So you don’t get a ten – Duthie – go find an 8 and let him grow. James is now signed on to be a host without a show, I can bet five years from now he won’t still be considered the best studio man in Canada.

    Finally, if Bell had put so much effort into keeping the actual games that they apparently did into keeping the talking heads then likely they wouldn’t have been in this place to begin with.

  10. Daniel says:

    Like a lot of the other commenters, I’m not much of a hockey fan. But Duthie does seem to be excellent. I also find Dreger to be very douchey, but I guess he gets a lot of scoops.

    Perhaps Rogers will go with Ron Maclean as their main NHL host? He’s older and not funny like Duthie, but he’s got some pretty major star power in this country as far as sports broadcasting goes.

  11. Sam says:

    Mike V said: “…content is king not the pundits in between the periods.”

    This is an interesting argument… kind of reminds me of the following argument that Bob trots out oh every week or so, that coaches/managers (is it just in baseball?) don’t matter.

    One thing to remember is (at least for me) I typically see the SN guys in the long-form (Hockeycentral) where as TSN its much more short form (in-between periods). I think the SN guys would have to be more focused to the extent there are shorter hits and be no nonsense.

    Having said that, I hope the SN guys keep their egos in check for the time being, as they mostly have, because most certainly none of them are untouchable.

    Aside: one of my favourite sports media moments was when Dreger started at TSN and McKenzie made a point to refer to him as the “junior insider”. McKenzie and Dreger don’t belong in the same sentence.

  12. Sam says:

    On the specific topic of whether Ron McLean or Millard should be the new host… obviously McLean could do it but I can imagine Rogers would be looking for a fresh face. I don’t think Millard is a bad guy but it would be unfortunate (for us) for him to be in that position. It would be like a decision to put Cybulski on drive-time radio head-to-head with McCow…. oh never mind.

  13. Mike says:

    This is at minimum a token pushback on Rogers, which has been pounding its chest for the past week about how it now owns the hockey world. Certainly, the rumours were that Rogers would essentially pick away at any talent it wanted. Not so fast, responds TSN, and that’s a good thing. TSN’s in-studio hockey team is miles ahead of Sportsnet’s in credibility . . . and, at least for now, will remain that way.

  14. Mike says:

    Speaking of Rogers, can anyone explain the push to put non-broadcasting voices on the air, be it TV or radio? Examples include John Shannon and Michael Grange – both of whom are extremely difficult to listen to. You almost wonder if one of the Rogers suits is pulling some sort of joke putting these “voices” on the air. Shannon, we understand, was a big deal behind the camera. Great. Since when did that make him a voice anyone would want to listen to. As for Grange, it’s downright embarrassing.

  15. gerry says:

    I am not fond of the Egos at TSN. Not for a long time. I’ll take Sportsnet.

  16. Dave in Bolton says:

    Today, 10:57 PM
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    Darlotto99
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    I think the TSN talent that end up staying at TSN will end up doing double duty at Leafs TV As well as at TSN when needed.MLSE already said that their on air talent are up for review.Bell owns a percentage of LEAFS TV and TSN keeps their talent busy and away from Sportsnet. Leafs TV gets better on air talent.
    The 2nd tier TSN talent and Labrun will end up on Sportsnet.

  17. Daniel says:

    @Mike – I actually think Grange is great. Not a good broadcaster at all, but he’s smart and makes good points.

  18. Mike says:

    @Daniel – Unfortunately for Grange, being a good broadcaster, heck just being a decent broadcaster, is one of the core skills required to be on the air. Especially in a market like Toronto. This isn’t Blind River. Without that core skill he is so blatantly missing, the good points you mention are marginalized. Smart guy or not, he’s almost impossible to listen to. The real sad part is that he has not improved one iota in that area; I’d suggest he, actually, has regressed.

  19. Rob In Aurora says:

    I am sure the guys at Sportsnet don’t want to lose their jobs, and I am sure the guys at TSN don’t want the guys at Sportsnet to lose their jobs either! —– I have always despised Kyproeos and Millard. I can’t watch or listen to that sickening banter of inside jokes and jibes that are awkward and not funny – I don’t know anyone who likes them or their coverage.

    Duthie is so far above Millard its pathetic and whether you like Dreger and McKenzie or not, their ability as insiders is far and away better than anyone at Sportsnet…(John Shannon is an absolute joke)…Now that TSN has retained their staff, I see Elliotte Friedman making a move to Rogers full time from CBC now. He’s decent and way better than anyone at Sportsnet

    Millard was already fired once, so he’s had that experience to fall back on when the axe falls in the summer- maybe it won’t be as bad this time and maybe he’ll keep his radio gig (who cares?. I can avoid that easily enough, I never listen to the FAN any more).

    Doug McLean needed a job as he was unemployable with the league, so his existing relationship as a regular on Sportsnet got him his broadcasting job. He and Kypreos act like they had impressive careers in the NHL, but they were both a joke (although their teams went to the cup). Their on air “posing” would almost be funny to watch, if it weren’t so annoying.

    TSN will eventually get more games than we think. Duthie can anchor Football and hockey and do a great job at both. Rogers overpaid for the rights and will eventually need to sell off some games. TSN also has a bunch of local coverage (MON T.O and Winnipeg) that allows their hockey dept to continue …This should get interesting

  20. Pingback: Hockey News: Lundqvist Contract; Commodore vs. Babcock

  21. Ryan says:

    Rob In Aurora, I could not have said it better myself!

  22. Mike V says:

    Rogers didn’t really overpay for the rights and I can’t see them selling games back to TSN. If that is really what the execs at TSN are betting on then they are going to be in for a rude awakening come October.

  23. Cowboys9 says:

    Good to see this talent staying at TSN.. which tells you more of what is coming down the pipeline than we know right now. I agree that Rogers seriously overpaid for the rights to NHL hockey. $435Mil is breakeven point and right now Rogers barely take in $200M on hockey .. TSN which has hockey rights now only takes in $300M in revenue at most… So do the math…Where does Rogers get the increased revenue to actually make money? They sell off games to TSN.. maybe not now but after a couple of years of taking a bath they will be sellers… CBC will be out after 4 years anyway…. Rising production costs yearly , trying to hire top flight talent to upgrade their seriously challenged current line up won’t come cheap either.
    I think Rogers just got a serious setback with this signing.. I think they were banking on getting Duthie and probably DD….

  24. Mike S says:

    I agree that TSN’s hockey people are much better than Sportsnet’s…………..I know very few people who think otherwise

    TSN has several people that I really like (Duthie, McKenzie, Cuthbert, Ferraro, and to a lesser extent LeBrun and O’Neill) while Sportsnet has only one person that I really like (Doug MacLean) and has several people that I dislike (Millard, Brad May, Shannon, etc)

    Gord Miller already does some work for NBC Sports Network so I wonder if he ends up there full time………….or maybe he stays at TSN (for World Juniors, etc) but increases his work with NBCSN

  25. @AFRAUDHATER says:

    Honestly, how many things can Shahnon get wrong? Tonight he was trying to make a stupid point and he made it by saying the Tampa Bay Rays WON a world series!!

  26. Mike V says:

    The math isn’t as bad as it seems on the face. TVA is paying Rogers $125 million per year for the French rights (now how they’ll turn a profit is something I can’t figure out) and CBC’s hockey advertising revenue is $175 million a year. That’s $300 million right there, which is what Rogers will be paying for the rights to begin with (escalators kick in later). TSN’s NHL ad revenue was likely somewhere between $50 -$70 million which would more than pay for the increased production costs. Then there’s all the new revenue that will come from the deal – online and mobile rights, Sunday national game and more games on Saturday, subscription rate increases.

  27. alex says:

    shannon claiming ADD was pretty funny.

  28. (Another) Andrew says:

    Cox was also unbearable tonight. He was so flippant about Arash’s remark about bars being filled on Sundays for NFL games. I don’t know if he was trolling or just plain dumb.

  29. John Brand says:

    Now that Duthie, McKenzie & Dreger, are staying with TSN. Imagine the Curing Coverage in 2014

  30. Don Mandrie says:

    When is Damien Cox not unbearable? Smug and nasty. What a combo.

  31. Rob in Aurora says:

    Mike V, so you’re saying Rogers didn’t pay too much for the rights? This is because TVA is paying Rogers $125 million per year for the French rights added to the ad revenue for CBC’s hockey which is $175 million a year – totalling $300 million which is what Rogers will be paying for the rights to start (it goes way up though)… You claim TSN’s NHL ad revenue “was likely” somewhere between $50 -$70 million which would “more than pay for the increased production costs”….. (I’ll take your word for all that – However I don’t see how trading 4 quarters for a buck is good business. In fact, it’s not, especially for a publicly traded company)…

    Rogers will be looking to sell some games off the same way CBC did to TSN 12 years ago in order to keep the numbers in black ink and keep the analysts from storming the castle, or in this case, the campus.

    I predict that Rogers WAY overpaid and TSN got screwed by Betttman after being a good partner for the NHL- and now Rogers is going to rearrange the chairs on the pre and post game Titanic, now that Duthie et al are staying put at TSN. I wonder if Bettman watched the Sportsnet coverage

  32. Mike V says:

    What’s your reasoning that Rogers WAY overpaid or that they’ll need to sell off games or that TSN got screwed? Other than you having a strong anti-Rogers bias of course.

    Yes the fee will go up over the life of the contract but so will the TV revenue.

  33. Carl says:

    I think Rogers are going to be surprised at the backlash that I believe is coming when Joe Public gets hit with major cable fee increases and the “pick and pay” model that Rogers believes will be a huge success…. We know Canadians love their hockey, guess we will find out just how much their willing to pay? For myself , I already pay Rogers about $300 per month , between internet , phones, cable , and will have a difficult decision how much more I want them to dig into my pocket…..Another question will be ….What does Rogers have to offer after hockey is done after the playoffs? The loser Jays I guess…. TSN will still offer a better variety of sports to watch than Rogers which I think will still attract many viewers ……

  34. @AFRAUDHATER says:

    I never or at least rarely watch Toronto Raptor games and tonight I remembered why. Kobe made his return so I made a point of watching. Maybe the biggest reason or 1B for the Raps viewership sucking is simple. Do Matt Devlin & Jack Armstrong ever simply call the game they’re watching? 90% of the time one of these two idiots are rambling about the weather, MGD, every other team in the league that’s not playing in front of them, hockey, history lessons, what they did the night before the game and on and on and on. If I were in charge of improving the teams TV viewership the first thing I would do is find a couple of broadcasters that can actually you know CALL THE FUCKIN GAME THAT’S BEING PLAYED!!

  35. ... says:

    Duthie is way too good to just be labeled a “hockey host”.

    South of the border the biggest names do multiple sports, no reason why TSN wouldn’t just put him on their biggest remaining properties.

  36. Rob in Aurora says:

    Mike V – I believe that Sportsnet (Rogers) way overpaid because as popular as hockey is, the TV ratings are never all that strong, except maybe during the playoffs. I went to the BBM site and looked at several weeks during the hockey season as a sample (I was curious based on your pointed question) – I found that there are weeks where hockey isn’t even in the top 30 programs watched…NFL and CFL playoffs were strong in those weeks and there was one week where HNIC was no. 4 and TSN Leaf hockey was 15 or 16.

    But as we know the price of ad time is based on ratings and revenue is tied to selling ad time, so I don’t know how you pay $350 MM then $400 then $500 million over a 12 year period is good business, especially when it is such as larger amount than what is being paid for the rights currently – so I see ROgers selling some hockey off to TSN. TSN already has access to Canada’s largest market for some (some) Leaf games as well as HAB and Jets games in those markets. So TSN won’t disappear from hockey and Rogers better sharpen their pencils…

    And yes, I prefer TSN, and I find Sportsnet laughable – doesn’t everyone?

  37. Mike V says:

    So because the Wednesday night game on TSN doesn’t usually make the top 30 weekly programs in Canada unless it features the Leafs, Rogers overpaid with $5.2 Billion. I fail to see the logic in connecting those two statements.

    Ad revenue can still rise year over year with flat ratings because the value that advertisers put on that rating increases. That’s what you’ve seen across all sports: as audiences get splintered, ratings decline for a hit network shows and more people use PVRs to get through commercials companies are paying more for commercials during games where those things aren’t happening (or at least to a lesser extent). Look at the Super Bowl ad rates (not saying NHL hockey is on the same curve but its really the only publicly available data), over the last decade the cost of one commercial has doubled from just over $2 million to as high as $4.5 million for next year’s game. The game’s ratings? Only up about 15% in the same period. So advertisers are paying over 70% more per viewer in 2014 than they were in 2004.

    That’s the main reason why the rights cost so much more this time than in 2005 and why the NFL and MLB both more than doubled their TV deals in the last 2 years – so will the NBA when their deal is up next year. But another reason it’s so much more is that Rogers is getting more than what TSN and CBC had in the last deal. The Sunday game, showing all Saturday games nationally, the French rights that were immediately sub-licensed, all digital platform rights. None of that was in the previous deal and all of it cost Rogers something. So the cost of this deal is not a straight comparison to the $140M/year that CBC+TSN were paying.

  38. Yaz says:

    MacKenzie will retire before the 12 year national rights deal is up and he’s been at TSN for so long I understand his decision. Duthie & Dreger I don’t get. They’re either myopic & stupid or TSN way overpaid to keep them – for their sake I hope its the latter. If they’re taking the same money to stay at ‘The Second Network’ they’re idiots.

    This is TWELVE years of national broadcasting – think how big HNIC is for doing hockey one lousy night a week and SN is going to be doing it for three?? An entire generation of hockey fans will link Sportsnet’s biggest names to their entire memory of hockey. If 4-5-6 years Duthie & Dreger will be looked upon as second class like Millard & Kypreos are now. Its inevitable. CFL & World Juniors? Lol. Maybe Duthie has his eye on the States. Otherwise, company loyalty schmoyalty – TSN dropped the ball and they’re going to suffer.

    TSN didn’t lose the deal over money- they’re bid was within a million. Bettman saw more of a team with Pelley & the now gone Nadir. That and fact 5 of 7 Canadian local TV deals are already with Rogers which would have made a TSN/NHL deal a bit of three headed hydra. TSN lacked the vision to sign up those local deals when they came up.

  39. Ryan says:

    Ray Ferraro ‏@rayferrarotsn 13h
    Been great Christmas, #2014WJC with family here–happy,proud to announce I’ll be staying at #TSN for the next 10 years – deal just completed

    Aaron Ward staying on as well.

    Pierre LeBrun resigns with TSN too.

    Watch the games on SN, everything else will remain the same.

  40. CMN says:

    TSN hockey analysis is awful. Who are Bob McKenzie and Darren Dregger anyway? What NHL experience do they have? What pro hockey experience?

    Why does anyone care what these people have to say? Watch NFL on ESPN, CBS, or FOX and it’s all former Super Bowl champs, Pro Bowlers and Hall of Famers…you know, guys who actually experienced the game. On TSN, it’s main talent are wannabes.

    Ridiculous!

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