Seen & Heard – Weekend Edition

June 20th, 2015 | by mike (in boston)
Seen & Heard – Weekend Edition
business of sports

photo credit: AP


by mike in boston / @mikeinboston / hatemailaccount at gmail


Good morning sports media watchers. I’m taking some time off to take care of some important blogger business but the column will be back before too long. In the meantime, I’m going to use this week to clear out the queue. As always, if you have something you want to put on the table for discussion, please do so in the comments. Let me also take this opportunity to thank everyone who reads and especially those of you who take the time to keep the conversation going.


The Rogers Hockey Ratings Disaster


With the boos of Gary Bettman handing over the Stanley Cup still ringing in our ears Yahoo!’s Chris Zelkovich delivered a grim truth.


“Ratings for the final were 12 per cent lower than last year and the lowest since 2009. Monday’s deciding game between Tampa Bay and Chicago was also off 20 per cent from last season and was the least-watched Stanley Cup finale since the seventh game of the New Jersey-Anaheim series in 2003. Audiences on CBC saw an 8 per cent drop while Sportsnet’s hockey averages were 14 per cent below what TSN drew last year.



Basically the news  for 2014-15 is bad across the board, and compares unfavourably to last year when the CBC, TSN, and Sportsnet all controlled some piece of the pie, but also to years going to back to the lockout. As Zelkovich notes, these numbers look especially bad when you factor in 5 Canadian teams making the playoffs, and a very exciting and closely-fought final. The NHL product is in a reasonably good place, with the Cup drawing a good rating for NBC. So the ratings failure in Canada cannot be blamed on the play on the ice.


Beyond any of these factors, there is the looming black cloud for the NHL that Canada is not as white and rural as it once was. In  big multicultural cities, hockey is becoming less of a priority (or an affordable possibility) relative to soccer and basketball. For 15 years now we have heard that the NHL will see a decline as other sports increase in popularity.

I have said before that the NFL makes billions by diversifying its media partners. Games appear on FOX, CBS, ESPN, NBC and they are now adding even more partners through online streaming. By contrast Gary went all-in with Rogers for reasons only he knows. I’m sure the $5.2 billion — a number that continues to shock people in the industry — had something to do with it, but the rumours of Gary wanting to “stick it” to TSN and the CBC persist.


As you’ll recall, Guy Laurence claims Rogers will turn a 10% profit on their hockey broadcasts, though it is unclear if this does or does not include the compensation that will need to be paid to advertisers for missing the promised 20% increase in ratings. Ad buyers were charged more and delivered less, and this is going to result in giveaways. Furthermore, this will affect the rates Rogers will be able to command for ad slots in its next round of negotiations. This was not part of the projections when they costed out the return on a $5.2 billion dollar investment.


Now, for some perspective, this is year 1 of a 12 year deal and does not necessarily dictate what will happen in years to come. Furthermore, there is reason to believe that we will see at least one more Canadian NHL team in the next few years, so Rogers will certainly get a boost from that. As we enter the off-season Rogers needs to decide whether to be active or whether to be passive in light of these results. 


Rogers does not admit failure and is very reluctant to reverse course. We have seen them stick with unpopular ventures like Sportsnet magazine and their subscription iPad service. They are also very confident in their ability to tell the viewer what to want. A few people have said to me that Rogers execs see the belly-aching about Strombo etc. as people who don’t like change but will tune in nonetheless, and will eventually get used to it. So I think we will see more of the same next year. Rogers has invested a huge amount of money in new studios, new hires, and new technology. These investments are not currently paying for themselves, but those costs are already sunk, and changing course means spending more money.


The question to ponder this morning is: why did Canadians fail to embrace the NHL on Sportsnet? 


We can break the product down into more detailed components for analysis.


1) The Host – Strombo was a polarizing hire, intended to draw in a demo outside of the NHL’s core audience. Did it work? The numbers so it did not, and that he may have alienated some of the existing base. This would be the biggest way to change up the dynamic of the presentation, but it would also be the most public way of admitting they made a mistake. I don’t see it happening.


2) The Panels – To put my cards on the table, I hate panel shows. It’s an unnatural way to have a discussion, it leads to a “point-scoring” approach to debate, and it rarely advances the audience’s understanding of anything. The NFL’s panel shows set the bar for putrescence, but hockey’s panels are not far behind. It’s not good television.


3) The Announcers – I’ll leave this to others to discuss since I have no strong feelings on the topic.


4) The Feel – many complained when Tim Thomson (@b0undless) and his hockey montages were set aside for Rogers in-house production. Have you noticed other significant changes in the “feel” of HNIC/Rogers hockey? I’m no TV expert, so I’ll defer to others here.


5) The Convergence – this one is subtle … by going all in with Rogers, the NHL knew that its product was going to be leveraged to sell cell phones, cable subscriptions, magazine services, etc. Basically, all national hockey games in Canada now come bundled with ads for the non-sports Rogers services that constitute 85% of where the company makes it money.


Over to you: what changes would you like to see to Sportsnet’s approach to hockey? What turned you off relative to years past? What is working and what would you like to see more of? Who deserves more/less airtime?


Leiweke Lingers while MLSE burns


Tim Leiweke came into Toronto with more fanfare than almost any other executive in the city’s long history. He took down pictures, put up non-sports banners, and talked about changing the culture of losing. And then, a year and a half later, he announced he was leaving. But it’s June 20th and he’s still here, and despite his desire to move on, he has said he’ll stay on until a new CEO is found.


The facts in the book on Leiweke are mostly written. The MLSE teams did not see more success under his tenure than they did before. But is there more to the story than that? One thing Leiweke managed to do was get MLSE to spend money. They have spent a ton on players for TFC, on BMO and the Raptors’ practice facility, and on high profile coaches and GMs. Anyone who remembers the old Pension Plan days knows how frustrating it was to try to ply money out of that organization. Michael Grange of Sportsnet has a good article on Mr. Leiweke’s tenure in Toronto.


You might be surprised to read that things are still up in the air with the new CEO since Elliotte Friedman wrote a month ago that John Cassady was set to sign. “Sources say that early next week there will be final discussions to approve John Cassaday as Leiweke’s successor.” There has been radio silence on this front so either something went wrong at the approval stage and the board rejected him, or all of Friedman’s “sources” were wrong or misled him about Cassaday’s willingness to take the job.


With things dragging on one has to wonder why such a high profile job is going unfilled. One obvious explanation is that any candidate would need to be equally acceptable to Rogers and Bell. Since most people in the industry work or have worked for one of these companies already, that is going to be a problem. Further, given Leiweke’s well-publicized gaffes they will likely want someone who is a little more familiar with Toronto and its sports scene.


Overall this is not a good situation for one of the most powerful sports owners in the world. You have a guy in place who would rather be elsewhere. You have a CEO position that many have turned down, with some people even refusing to be interviewed. I wonder when Richard Peddie returns to take over the job on an interim basis.


Quick Hits


TorontoMike reported that Bundell’s 3 month average of 5.5 fell well below Brady & Walker’s high mark of 8.6, and ranked among the lowest ratings in the morning show’s long history. With a new PD coming in the obvious question is whether the station will have the patience to stick with a show like Blundell’s. While he’s new to sports, he’s not exactly new to radio or to the market. His sports knowledge is not going to improve, so it’s unclear where a ratings boost would come from. I have been told that Blair’s show had a bad book as well but I have not been able to confirm that yet. We could see a major shake-up by early 2016.


The Coyotes story continues to provide daily entertainment. The big news this week was that majority owner Andrew Barroway was relinquishing control of the team but would still be the majority shareholder. Why would he do that unless he was also getting out completely? “A philosophical difference in the financial direction of the team has led IceArizona members Gary Drummond and Dave Duckett to buy back some of Barroway’s shares.” I don’t understand this at all — a philosophical financial difference? There’s another shoe to drop here. Maybe Barroway is getting ready to sell or maybe he doesn’t have the money to fund the losses that are about to come due. Rick Westhead of TSN has a complete rundown of where things stand from a legal perspective.


Still with Westhead, this winter he went to Brazil to do a story on women’s soccer in Rio De Janero’s favela district. The story appeared as a 15 minute documentary, which you can read more about here. (I just tried to find a link to the video off the front page of TSN and couldn’t, but there is a prominently placed video of Cabbie and Mike Tyson. I then went to the “Video” tab and couldn’t see it there either. Your website is a content-priority mess TSN.) This is continued excellent and innovative work by Westhead. I wrote last week about my desire for the sports networks to invest more in creating original content that goes beyond the standard fare of highlight shows and athlete interviews.


The Jays have been so much fun to watch over the last month. Jesse Spector has a story on how the Jays’ run differential number obscures the holes in their pitching staff. Alex has never made in-season trades that improved the team’s chances at making the playoffs that year. I hope that changes in 2015. We know there is leftover room in the budget for this year, and we know that tons of money is coming off the books next year. Now is the time to go out and make a move to solidify your roster for when the breaks stop falling your way. This team is not deep, but has the chance to fix that by taking back money.


Scientists have been weighing in on Tom Brady’s deflated footballs and the facts are not good for the NFL’s case.


Low Hanging Fruit


  • How great was it to hear Nelson Millman back on PTS. Some things just sound right. Even though this is a short term arrangement, let’s enjoy it while it lasts.


  • Richard Griffin on whether ownership will allow AA to make deals to improve the club: “there’s a bunch of idiots at Rogers who don’t know how to run a baseball team.” (TSN Drive – June 15th)


  • Dave Shoalts’ last social media appearance was 11 days ago. What a terrible time for him to be away. No one has written more about Blundell, Rogers’ hockey ratings, and the Coyotes over the last few years. Come back Dave!


  • Andrew Walker seems really focused on other people’s weight.


  • I have been enjoying the work of  TSN Radio’s Andy McNamara. He’s got a good sound. Wouldn’t mind hearing him get some more prime time airtime this summer.




thanks for reading and commenting,

until next time …

mike (not really in boston)


  1. rob j says:

    Discussion with Deitsch on PTS this week focused on the successful playoff ratings for NBC. Not a syllable on the CBC-Rogers numbers.

  2. DJ says:

    Where to start??

    With SN losing radio ratings….is it going to TSN or is it leaving sports radio all together? Also, like tv does it exclude online listens? I know I use the app a lot for my listening.

    As for Westhead – maybe I am new to finding his work over the last few months, but he is must read lately. Informative, logical flow, and smart. As Mike in Boston writes, he needs to be getting A LOT more attention on the website, which is a complete clusterF***.

  3. Paul says:

    Well done as always! I feel that the low ratings can be attributed to a few personalities. Get rid of the healy and cox and I feel the watchability of the broadcasts will increase dramatically. They have enough TV heads to cut the deadweight loose and not miss a beat.

  4. mario says:

    Thanks for a great read…Rogers coverage on the NHL season has been average at best. Here’s hoping positive changes are in the offering.

  5. Quintana says:

    Welcome to Dean ummm Blondell and ahhhhh Company. It’s ummmm Friday and ahhhh the Jays won again ummm last night.

    Dean’s verbal ticks are unbelievable for a veteran announcer. I counted 8 ummms or ahhhs in one question to an ‘insider’ last week.

    This would be unacceptable for a first year Ryerson student, let alone a morning host.

  6. Alex says:

    I think both NBC’s good ratings and SN’s poor ratings just show how hockey is a regional sport. If you take out Chiacgo (and things like the 44/65 for the final game), you would prob have decnt but not stellar ratings.

    Canadians who complain about Healy should try watching Mike Milbury and Keith Jones.

  7. Darrell says:

    The Toronto Blue Jays and the station that covers them is absolutely nauseating. I am a New York Yankees fan, living here in Toronto but the Blue Jays fans deserve so much better. This team is not a ‘small market’ team, no matter what the Rogers empire say or want you to believe.

    The constant butt wiping is so sickening! The team has a good team, but not a great team. They could certainly get there but they go the thrifty route.

    The ‘laryngitis’ episode with Jerry Howarth and other suspensions because some bash the team is unprofessional by the Rogers idiots. I read on Twitter was that his laryngitis was a ploy and he was actually suspended?

    Jerry Howarth is getting older and perhaps a passing of the torch needs to take place, but he is so professional and honest about this floundering team. The way some Rogers guys like Jeff Blair, Jamie Campbell or Mike Wilner praise the team – an outsider would believe the team’s in the playoffs annually. Well hello if they are so dominant and unbeatable they would not have missed the playoffs for the past 22 years.

    Say what you will about the Toronto Maple Leafs and how they build a team but they have had much more success than the Toronto Blue Jays since 1993. The Leafs have made the playoffs over the past decade. Has the Blue Jays?

  8. Darrell says:

    Yes, the team is playing fantastic over the past month. No argument! However, doesn’t it seem odd that the host of the Blue Jays post-game call-in show will never allow fans to vent about a particular play, player or result without saying his catch phrase, “that’s not true”?

  9. MattK says:

    Jerry Howarth isn’t professional, him going after RA Dickey in the offseason was not professional, his vendetta against Jose Reyes was not professional. And baseball doesn’t have as many playoff spots as hockey.

  10. Hans says:

    Part of the problem for me was that we got so much of the same rogers/sportsnet talking heads throughout the NHL season on practically everything Rogers related to remind us “we have the NHL”. Their smugness, especially from the likes of Kypreos, McLean and Millard, really seemed petty and just plain childish. People tune in to see the games and not you talking heads.

    I recall seeing a few times this year during the many panels where Kyperos would just shout down people like Elliotte Friedman when he didn’t agree with their point. Very unprofessional and I’m sure I’m not the only one who tuned out because of it. I even recall Elliotte rolling his eyes a few time when Kyperos would just go into him.

    One thing that I was always surprised about with the Rogers deal is that the CRTC let it happen. If memory serves don’t they have rules over monopolies on programming like this or am I mistaken?

  11. Yaz says:

    Brady & Walker saying every now and again that later ‘we will read some of your tweets’ really dates them. Make Tweets an organic part of the show or don’t read them at all.

  12. Neil says:

    I don’t mind Jerry’s objectivity at all, as him and Zaun are the only ones with the stones to call anyone in the organization out for poor performance, to call jerry’s harsh criticism of Reyes a vendetta I think is a bit harsh, it’s not as though Jerry has singled out Reyes every day of each season since Reyes has been here. A vendetta is a sign of hate. I don’t think Jerry hates Reyes or is trying to get back at him for anything.

  13. Neil says:


    Sportsnet TV and Radio is the home of apologists. Blair, Wilner, Mcowan and Andrew Walker. Sportsnet attempts to act as a separate entity from the jays but I think everyone know’s how Rogers and it’s cross promoting strategy works. Rogers media is the media of mass manipulation.

  14. Darrell says:

    I am not saying everyone has to agree with my view but I applaud Howarth for the stones to throw at Reyes’. Howarth has not any vendetta against any Blue Jays player in over 30 years of work with the team. Why would he start now at his age? No benefit to him! He’s made a name for himself and established name. Wilner barely holds a jock strap in comparison to Howarth.

    At the time, who’s kidding who? Reyes played like crap! There was even talk about him moving to the outfield.

    Don’t get me wrong, there are ‘some’ good things on this Blue Jays roster. However, they are not as flawless as these idiots at Sportsnet will make you believe.

  15. billyjoejimbob says:

    On John Cassaday:

    I’ve seen multiple reports (John Shannon is the one I remember as first) that Cassaday was offered the job the next week, but things fell apart over money.

    Interesting time for Rogers.

    I’ve thought a lot about your Westhead/Friedman post from last week. I went through a lot of both men’s work about the Coyotes. Friedman clearly looks at it from a hockey perspective, with some small dabbling in the legal analysis. He freely admits he doesn’t know the law, so he doesn’t guess what’s going to happen. He puts it out there and says,”We’ll see what happens.”

    Westhead’s article yesterday was his best yet, as he took the time to go through Freedom of Information to find both sides of the story. That was excellent reporting. But, before that, I thought his work was very biased. It is clear his sources were the city councillors who want the deal cancelled. In fact, I would bet the reason so many people on this board who like his work do so because they agree with it. If Glendale wins the court battle, he’s going to look right. If they lose, all of his work is going to look wrong.

    His Brazil story was great.

    Interesting times at Rogers. I work in the financial sector (with some clients in the media business). Word was Bellmedia felt it would take up to nine years to make money on this deal. Wonder if the Rogers guys feel the same way.

  16. billyjoejimbob says:

    BTW, there is a rumour Laurence does not like Friedman’s TV work. That would be interesting, if true.

  17. Dogpounder says:

    “Richard Griffin on whether ownership will allow AA to make deals to improve the club: “there’s a bunch of idiots at Rogers who don’t know how to run a baseball team.” (TSN Drive – June 15th)”


    That was gold. He also proceeded to call the Rogers people “high foreheads.”

    Was very rational in his assessment of Gibby and AA. Unlike the paid Rogers shills at 590 with the exact same opinions…. amirite?

  18. DPOTOOLE says:

    Isn’t there a tradition /superstition in baseball that when a pitcher has not allowed a hit or walked a batter you don’t use the words “no-hitter” or “perfect game”? During the broadcast of the Jays game against the Orioles on Friday Wilner couldn’t stop saying “no-hitter”. Because he knows everything I assume he knows about this tradition/superstition and simply has no regard for it.

    When Max Scherzer through a no-hitter on Saturday the announcers bent over backwards to avoid saying those words.

  19. Walt says:

    Rogers ratings have to be, in part, due to the major changes made to the HNIC model. Personally, I miss the montages prior to the game, crank up the receiver and enjoy. If Rogers was truly going after the younger crowd, it makes no sense to cut them. Strombo, great interviewer on his own show, no question, but as host of HNIC he looks out of place. Half the time he dresses like a wino with ill fitting uncoordinated outfits, in need of a shave and doesn’t seem to know how to do up a tie. Then during the panels, he seems like the odd guy in the room trying too hard to belong. It’s uncomfortable to watch and I finally started switching channels between periods instead of having to put myself through it. Ron McLean had a unique “Canadian-ness” about him. Down to earth, knew his stuff and would fit in at any hockey rink in the country. Strombo just doesn’t have the same credibility when it comes to being the host of a show like HNIC. Too urban “Toronto”, at times almost coming across as being phoney. Most of the other parents at my local rink feel the exact same way, in fact, he ever stepped foot in my local rink, he would probably be laughed right out of the place). The panels and the set. Time to find someone to replace Hrudey and Millard. There’s plenty of other retired players out there that would a much better job. As for the “Starship Enterprise” design, it’s just downright silly. A pretend ice pad with Strombo and Hrudey holding hockey sticks and standing 20 feet away from each other? Seriously? As for the announcers, I watched the final on NBC and thought they did a great job of getting you into the game. About the only thing they didn’t say was Holy Mackinaw. My suggestion to Rogers would be to put Strombo back where he fits in and does what he does best, one on one interviews. Bring back Ron and the montages, get some new talking heads on the panels and I then I might eventually get used to the new set. Until then, I’ll be skipping the between period banter, (except for CC), and catch up on a pre-recorded program on my Rogers PVR, (and I’ll bet that neither Rogers nor their advertisers appreciate the irony in that).

  20. Neal says:

    I really enjoy Stephen Brunt’s production essays that he puts together from time to time (ones on Bautista, Encarnacion, the Expos, etc.). I am wondering if perhaps with Rogers employing so many great writers like Blair, Brunt, Grange, Davidi and others that maybe more features will be produced and broadcast on the TV and radio properties. I think that would really round out the platforms and create a bit more synergy between SN Magazine and the broadcast properties.

  21. Mullah_Kintyre says:

    I have never understood MLSE spending $100 million or more (they say it’s already gone over-budget) of their own money to expand BMO Field — which they don’t own. That’s significantly more than what it cost to build in the first place. Supposedly MLSE’s deal which started in 2007 was to operate it for 20 years, and the BMO naming rights for ten. Why wouldn’t MLSE just give the city a few million to buy their way out of the last ten years of the deal, and build their own new stadium? Apart from that, the stadium’s original capacity of 20,000 seemed to be the appropriate size for its purpose, and expanding it to 30,000 now seems to have very predictably resulted in thousands of routinely unsold empty seats.

  22. Alex says:

    Vin Scully does not subscribe to the “dont mention the no hitter” philosophy, so thats good enough for me.

  23. Neil says:


    Print guys at times are not the best TV or Radio guys, Brunt is kind of the exception to the rule. Shi,Grange and Blair write a lot better than they speak in their live appearances. Dhividi,Grange and other print guys Rogers has tried to convert into Tv and Radio personalities may be somewhere down the road as print dies out.

  24. Darrell says:

    Jeff Blair is, “one of the, ah, best of the ah worst, broadcasters” Sportsnet has for verbal speaking. I am sure he is a great writer and not bashing his work in that way, but speaking??? The worst!

  25. Mari says:

    I’ll second what Walt said above. For the first time ever in our house, we watched the NBC feed when we could. I only listen to the Leafs (every game) on radio, except when it’s special nights, like Armed Forces Night as I want to see the ceremonies, then I go and listen to the radio. I wish there was a radio signal reserved to sync with the TV feed. In a nutshell? I miss Ron hosting, Don is on too little, I despise Healy and Cox, and George is terrible as the MC. Freege, Pang, Weekes, Hrudy, they’re my favourite analysts currently. Now TPTB think adding a dolly bird woman in stupid outfits is improving the in studio segments. The questions asked of the players between periods are stupider and stupider, at least have Cassie Campbell do the majority, since she actually knows what the hell it’s like. We hardly ever get games Bob Cole is calling… I could go on.

  26. RobInAurora says:

    I’ve already posted my complete disdain for everything Rogers does both on radio and TV. I listened to the Fan from day 1, but as soon as Rogers bought them we started seeing the downward spiral if the quality of on air programs. Their TV work on sprortnet weent down steadily over the years. At one time SN was watchable. But really.. Hazel Mae? Awful. Strombo is the Hazel Mae of hockey hosts….HNIC is a joke and I was rooting for this failure ever since bettman shut out TSN. I am enjoying this so much. It looks good on betam and Sportsnet. They are chasing away viewers. And I watched NBC too. Far superior production. Top to bottom.

    For those wanting to listen to Bowen while watching Leaf games on TV, simply use tape delay with your PVR. Radio is a few seconds slower streaming over the web. Sync up the video to the audio on the web feed and you can avoid Hughson, Romaniuk or any of the other horrible play by play announcers on Rogers…

  27. rob j says:

    Sorry, but in what universe is Joe Bowen a reputable hockey broadcaster?

  28. Dustin says:

    Does someone have, or can someone find the NBC (in Canada) ratings for the games? Would love to see the comparison.

  29. Dave in Bolton says:

    Until the NHL and Bettman get it that Rogers/SN deal will never be as succesful as the TSN/CBC deal the ratings will continue to suck and will continue to make the leafs look second rate. TSN has all the personalities that if the deal were reversed and TSN had the rights deal no one would even say a word of the coverage. TSN is a world class sports network and makes SN look and sound like a high school class project. Gary time to strike a separate deal with TSN bc it’s not working with Rogers and never will

  30. Dan says:


    AFAIK, there is no way to measure the audience of Canadians watching American networks.

  31. Neil says:


    Your absolutely correct this is the reason the Toronto Raptors will never be an attraction south of the border, because there is equally no system there that can measure Canadians television interest in the team, therefore advertisers over there won’t give a fly n fadoo.

  32. Steve Clark says:

    Rogers is in the first year of a 12 year deal, so not everything is going to go flawlessly. Plus, they took on the monumental role of being the sole national broadcaster as well regional games for four teams, and a share of the Leaf schedule. Neither TSN nor CBC had that many games to home produce. What that left was the need for a ton of analysts at the desk because essentially you needed a different crew for every game that you were producing. CBC and TSN had the luxery of basically keeping one panel intact for the whole year, though TSN would mix in different guys.

    Whats the end result? No one really emerged as a star for Rogers on the analyst side. Their best analysts, were in my opinion, Mike Johnson, Kelly Hrudey and Elliot Friedman. That said I think Friedman is miscast on the desk. I’d like to seem him do more feature reporting, and see his excellent 30 Thoughts made into a regular feature on the show (though you cannot obviously have all 30).

    Rogers also promoted a more player friendly/promotional format and I do not think they hit that mark completely as panel discussions got a little intense and argumentative. Not that it made for bad TV, but if you are going to promote the game and the players that seems to run a little contradictory.

    Strombo, to me, gets a second year. Identify what went right (interviews, mobility, transitions) and what went wrong (sometimes getting lost in the panel) and correct it. You could see subtle changes during the year. Now with an off season to work with, lets see what can be brought out. Like it or not, he is the guy you hitched your wagon to. Let him shine in positions that he is comfortable with.

    As for the game announcers, these were not new voices. They were either with TSN (Randorf, Romanuk) or CBC (Hughson Cole) or familiar regional voices (Ball, Shorthouse). John Bartlett came from TSN radio to do Montreal TV and he is a guy to watch out for . He made the big leagues the right way, starting at Tier 2 as a PA Announcer and moving through Jr (Barrie) AHL (Toronto) and then NHL (Montreal radio). People with have their favourite announcers, and those who grate on them. All those guys were pretty solid.

    Sorry guys, not ready to rule that the 12 year deal was a disaster. Ratings dipped over the playoffs, but I do think that a Final 4 without a Canadian team or a Boston, Detroit, even a Philadelphia hurt. This year with the depth of the draft, expect to see a lot of Edmonton and Buffalo. Rogers did a great job with the CHL, basically building the schedule around McDavid. That worked out well and the momentum continued through the Memorial Cup even with McDavid not a part of it.

  33. mike (in boston) says:

    The headline reference to a disaster is taken from the tone of Zelkovich’s article (sorry … I forgot to link it originally; it’s there now) which includes the following turns of phrase: “not pretty”, “shocking decrease”, “major disappointment”. Let’s blame him rather than each other.

  34. Rob In Aurora says:

    Hey, Rob J: MINE!!! (And that’s all that really matters) – Remember: It’s my movie – you’re not even in it.

    Bowen and Jim Ralph would have been replaced long ago if I was the only fool that preferred them to the idiots on Sportsnet.

  35. rob j says:

    @Rob in aurora,
    Oh there’s no doubt ‘Bonsey and Ralphie’ (sounds like the Little Rascals) serve a huge function in terms of homerism and carnival barking-type-shilling for the franchise. It’d be stupid to replace them with a more measured duo and for MLSE’s sake they better stick around to push the (latest) rebuild as something that will inevitably be successful, a view that all leaf fans seem to share despite zero experience in the front office (I know, Burkie had experience and look what happened…). As infomercial hosts, the radio crew is hall-of-fame worthy.

  36. Jacob says:

    Jeff Marek just released a solid NHL mock draft: This guy is criminally underutilized by Sportsnet.

  37. d says:

    I dont think that after year one sportsnet is going to fire a bunch of personalities, and there is zero chance that they sell a single game to tsn. Rogers overspent for the nhl, and maybe they won’t make a profit, but they know that anyone who wants to watch hockey is tuning into their network, not their competition.

  38. William D says:

    This is about my third time on the site. I love what mike (In Boston) is doing. The one issue I have with some of the comments is when people try to discourage what others have to say. From my understanding of the post and comments this is a very objective site which is great, because in today’s broadcast world all you get is broadcasters(rights holders) and their allegiance to teams. There should be no censorship of criticism lest it include profanity, discrimination or some other inappropriate behaviour. I know I for one can’t stand Rogers, but lets face it folks most of the sports you consume right now and the most listen to sports station in Canada is broadcast by Rogers Media, and with that, Rogers is subject to a lot of scrutiny which is fair. This blog post is about Rogers Nhl broadcast isn’t it? Has anyone told Mike(in boston) to stop consuming Rogers.

  39. Anthony says:


    All for honest critisism of Rogers, its warranted in some cases, my issue is when it becomes personal. The poster in question has made it personal with myself and everyone else (calling us all Rogers apologist and Wilner Lovers) for suggesting that its not all awful. If there is no censorship or ‘open dialog’, then that should never happen, but sadly it often does and judging from past comments, im not the only one who sees it.

    Id love honest, thoughtful dialog on all things sports and media, that’s what makes sites like this so good, but sadly that doesn’t happen with the poster in question, we are attacked and belittled when suggesting we may have a positive option on something Rogers does. Its not fair and stifles honest discussion.

  40. Pete says:

    “A few people have said to me that Rogers execs see the belly-aching about Strombo etc. as people who don’t like change but will tune in nonetheless, and will eventually get used to it.”

    Ugh. A quote like that really annoys me and pretty much affirms how out of touch Rogers is with its consumers. Unfortunately, they don’t give a crap about us so nothing we can do but avoid their products and advertisers. Which, personally I’ve been doing by watching less hockey than I have ever before and switching the channel when commercials or intermissions come on.

    Within the last year Rogers has force fed Strombo, Blundell and Reid upon us all with the hopes of bringing in a younger demographic and in the hopes of Reid, cross-promoting amongst platforms. I’m happy to see the ratings based on those decisions have taken a hit. Will be interesting to see now how stubborn Rogers will be in not admitting their mistakes. Not only they have been unable to capture that wider younger demographic (those with the attention spans of squirrels these days), but they’ve also alienated and driven away their long time viewers and listeners. Dangerous water they’re treading.

  41. William D says:


    If your offended at people taking shots at Rogers or Mike Wilner, your going to jump of a Cliff, There are plenty of sites out there that absolutely rip Rogers, Rip the Blue Jays, and Rip Mike Wilner. The host of this blog has taken a fair number of shots at Mike Wilner and Rogers. It’s an understatement to say that one poster has issues with Rogers or Mike Wilner. Mike Wilner himself admits there are a lot of people he has to block and Rogers facebook site is pasted with furious subscribers to Rogers services, be it it’s cable,season seats, internet whatever. Sorry man Rogers is certainly not a well regarded company. If you have made up your mind to defend the company than it’s equivalent to an army vs a gang. A lot of people out there hates Rogers man, it’s not uncommon.

  42. Anthony says:


    Oddly, much like the poster in question (same grammar too) you’re missing my point. I have zero issue with Wilner bashing, its fine by me, you get what you give with him, but the issue is that you’re promoting OPEN and HONEST dialog, yet when someone offers that Wilner is not as bad as suggested, that poster in question goes on the attack, harasses and criticizes. If you want open dialog, posters shouldn’t be subject to ridicule and being called ‘Rogers apologists’, that’s not open dialog, thats attacking. We should be allowed to disagree, but we dont.

    You can’t ask for ‘no censorship of criticism lest it include profanity, discrimination or some other inappropriate behavior. ‘ then defend the posts of said poster, because that’s exactly what he does, see the posts above as examples.

  43. William D says:


    I have no side in this debate. I see no profanity in comments above, I see no hate comments or name calling, I did see a commenter that is keeping track of how many times Mike Wilners name is mentioned, does this mean his name can’t be mentioned in criticism or praise, I’m not sure what tracking how much times his name is mentioned means, nonetheless, my entire point is that if this is a media blog all media types and companies are subject to scrutiny and praise and people can respectfully agree to disagree with the praise or criticism. The beauty of media is that it is a very controversial beast and there is a lot of discussion generated from it’s behavior. Let’s all keep the disagreements and discussions respectful and fair.

  44. Sam in Scarb says:

    PTS 5 Pm Monday bbbllaair as host reid as co-host.
    What a slap in the curlies to the listening & viewing public !!
    5:07 off to the Fireplace channel..
    Wood and fire will not say at least 10 STUPID things,that pair will (at least)

  45. sinnacle says:

    Minor thing as the border stations are metered since Canadian clients do buy airtime on the non prime time shows like Maury and the like. The Saturday night game 5 game was watched by about 20,000 people total on WGRZ (The buffalo NBC station, I know other areas in the country get other local NBC stations but I was pressed for time looking it up)

  46. yaz says:

    Full disclosure: I hate the new HNIC. I never missed HNIC once this 2014/15. I hate Rogers Cable. Rogers cable is my cable provider.

    The host: Can’t stand him. To be fair, the show is such a gong show that Strombo can’t be given a fair analysis in that context. He went without a tie first 1/3 of season, then with the tie, shirt untucked, high heels – he looks so uncomfortable despite trying to be ultra-comfortable and hip he made the audience feel uncomfortable. Note to Strombo: you’re 42, quit trying to look like a bearded mannequin at Le Chateau.

    The panels: I’ve commented on them throughout the season but they have been such a hodgepodge mess what’s the point?. It isn’t like we’re commenting on the ‘Hotstove’ after watching the same guys for 7 months. I thought Colby Armstrong was strong, probably won’t make PJ Stock too happy. Using a helicopter drone shot for the panel didn’t add to its excitement.

    The Announcers: see above.

    The Feel: The feel has been clumsy since the beginning. I can only think that Rogers knew the Tim Thomson opening was becoming a fan favourite and ditched it so the Rogers branding of HNIC wouldn’t be muddled: Fail. ( the best Tim Thomson opening ever was the first one after the Rogers NHL 12 year deal was announced, may have had something to do with it ) That said, then hire another guy and do another opening. The HNIC was the highlight of my sports-watching week. Crank the sound system and let’s go Saturday night. Are you ‘promoting the game’ or not? Swallow your pride and bring the opening back a-holes.

    The set: felt like a ham-handed attempted by likely a Sportsnet set designer who whose reach extended beyond his grasp. They took ideas and looks from a whack of other U.S. shows and unsuccessfully wrestled them together – then tried out different swooping crane shots that not only confused me but caused some bug-eyes on the announcers wondering where the damn camera was going. Entire HNIC season felt like a filmed rehearsal. One game deep Into the Cup final they opened with a very quick panel then went to a quiet, subtly lit, sit-down player interview with whom I can’t remember – REALLY??? TO OPEN THE SHOW???

    I said it way back – this season would likely be a mess with Sportsnet cronyism and after the 1st season there would likely be some bruised egos when tough decisions are made after the harsh reality of ratings wields its sword. Cuts are coming – be ready Hrudey, Friedman, PJ Stock, Millard. Let’s hope this thing gels next year.

  47. Russ says:

    I’ll second Yaz and I’ll third Walt. NAILED IT. Not sure what it is but Strombo is uncomfortable to watch. It’s like “Hipster Night in Canada”. It’s just not right and I too started changing channels during the intermission.

    My twenty something daughter and her friends stopped by a few months back and the intermission panel was on. Didnt take long before they started laughing and called Strombo a “name” that for the life of me I cant remember right now. But it was an uncomplimentary term they call middle aged guys who go to bars, who dress and act half their age, trying to be uber-cool.

    Everyone else can see right through the charade but they think they’re the cats meow and think everyone is laughing with them, when they’re really laughing at them.

    Pretty much sums it up from what I see. So Rogers, hows that deal with Strombo to bring in a younger demographic working out for you? Not as well as you thought, I’d bet.

  48. Dave in Bolton says:

    I think I have a way for Rogers to get out of this NHL deal by saving face and a way to make fans happy. Rogers sells the national deal with the NHL to a production company known as Dome Productions and if your wondering who owns Dome its a company co-owned by both Rogers and Bell.They produced much of the Olympics under the unholly alliance as Bob like to refer it to .The national deal is spread out between TSN, CBC and Sportsnet. Both Rogers and Bell split the cost. Name James Duthie as the new host across all 3 networks. on HNIC both SN and TSN gets to keep 2 pannel annalists each and with Duthie as a employee of both. Rogers can come out in say that they want to focus on other aspects of the company while Dome Productions takes over running the national package while retaining games on Rogers owned networks. TSN gets some of the TV deal back and fans get some of the TSN crew like Mckenzie and Dregger on HNIC.

  49. rob j says:

    @Dave in Bolton
    Orrrrrr, everyone could go down to the rink with a microphone and a Harry Neale bobblehead, call the game themselves, record it, say some stupid and racist things wearing their great-uncle’s suit jacket during the 1st intermission, read the out of town scores from off their iphone, and interview fans after the game in the parking lot. Then ud have ur perfect broadcast, intermissions, and post game show.

  50. Darrell says:

    I am fine with Strombo being ousted and Ron MacLean coming in, but I would like to see them sort of phase Cherry out. Strombo was never a guy that I was drawn to since that opening night where he had Mark Messier as an analyst.

    I am sure I am considered, ‘anti-Canadian’ but I think his act wore thin about 15 years ago and now he is occupying Coach’s Corner too much on day world wide events (9/11, shootings, sickness). I don’t think people tune into Coach’s Corner to hear Cherry’s world view.

    I am not bashing Cherry for the annual tribute of 9/11/Korean War or Remembrance Day but just don’t think he needs to add the other stuff with it. But that’s my two cents on it.

  51. rob j says:

    I wrote that cherry says things that are stupid (‘never mind the concussions’) and racist (‘chicken-Swede’ etc etc etc etc etc). Sorry, but I really thought that was common knowledge by now! Prove his shilling as a Rogers guy for another Rogers guy to get votes (weeks ago) gave Donaldson the voting spike! Besides, why should media care who gets voted in? Doesn’t get much lamer than that.

  52. Mike S says:

    I normally agree with most things mike in boston writes about sports radio in this city but I couldn’t disagree more with his comments on Andy McNamara………….I don’t find him insightful at all and I don’t find him entertaining

    In my opinion 1050 currently has much better weeknight/weekend programming than 590 but McNamara is the exception

  53. Rob In Aurora says:

    I agree that Andy McNamara is pretty awkward to listen to, so I usually just tune hime out. I don’t agree much with what the writers of this blog think about Radio in Toronto. The writing is predominantly “Fan-Centric” and TSN Radio is usually all but ignored. But now they trot out Andy McNamara as an emerging personality? No offense intended here, but I suspect there may be a personal bias because he’s pretty weak compared to the other fill ins at TSN.

  54. sinnacle says:

    The problem with Rogers hockey coverage is in part due to the name Rogers. People have a general disdain (to put it mildly) for Rogers so when Rogers wraps the flag around Hockey it right off the bat gives people a sour taste in their mouths.

    For example it’s called Rogers Sportsnet, you don’t see Bell (another company people tend not to like) calling TSN, Bell TSN so TSN is by and large allowed to stand on it’s own without the viewer being reminded every 30 seconds that they are owned by Bell. Until Rogers fixes the glowing issue with their company name being dirt with many people they will have a hard time getting people to warm up to their hockey coverage which as many people have pointed out could also use some work.

  55. Steve Clark says:

    RobinAurora: I think the site has done due diligence with TSN 1050. Has it been as much as The Fan? No, but it has not been as invisible as you think it is.

    As for Andy McNamara, full disclosure: I know Andy. In fact one of his, if not his first local TV gig was with me as we called the Ontario College All Star Basketball games. I enjoy when he broadcasts, but I get different tastes, for different folks. One thing I will say is he is doing things right. He started out at college, did a ton of stuff there, hosted and did play by play (for Oshawa Generals), moved to TSN Radio doing talk shows, and then did some TV gigs doing Toronto Rock Lacrosse. Now he’s just been named Hamilton Tiger Cats radio play by play. To me that would fit the definition of an “emerging sports talent”, regardless of whether his style fits for you.

    Another point on Strombo and the whole “hockey guy” thing. I’m not sure what this means. Heck, I’m not a hockey guy per-say as my career remained firmly stuck in House Leaue, but I called OHL and AHL hockey. I will say this: This is a week in which the hockey world is focused on Las Vegas for the awards, trade talk and the fact that Las Vegas being in the league is imminent. Friday we move onto the NHL Draft and then next week free agent season kicks off.

    Strombo, at least on Twitter, is tweeting pictures of his road trip somewhere, promoting his music show, but nothing on hockey. If I’m running Rogers, I’m gently nudging Strombo to start putting out stuff on social media about hockey. Not that this one thing will change perceptions, but this is a big week for the NHL and he needs to be invested in , regardless of whether or not he is on vacation.

  56. Dave in Bolton says:

    I will NEVER NEVER take anything Rogers does about hockey seriously the company is trash and their coverage of hockey is garbage. NHL made the wrong deal with the wrong company they should of stayed with TSN and CBC and keep Crapnet for reginal Leaf games. wrong move Gary that twit made the same mistake twice first with ESPN now with Crapnet. Rogers can shove it

  57. Roger says:

    The problem w/ the Rogers broadcast is that so many of their personalities are so damn unlikeable. Strombo tries way way too hard to “fit in” with the jocks on the set like Kypreos and Johnson and tries even harder when he’s interviewing current players. He’s like the kid in school who tries to dress the part, sound the part but everyone knows deep down inside that no matter what he does, he just doesn’t have the ‘it’ factor – he’s just out of place. He should be interviewing musicians not athletes. If he was the only problem, you could overlook it and just enjoy the rest of the broadcast. The problem is, he’s not the only problem. PJ Stock, should not be on ANY panel, on ANY broadcast in ANY country, anywhere. If he is looking to earn some money to supplement his career earning and prepare for retirement, PJ Stock should be selling used cars at a local Honda or Toyota dealership NOT opining on current hockey games and issues. Damien Cox. Where to even begin with him? smug, arrogant, holier than thou, yet all backed with very very little of any substance or meaning. He enjoys playing the “intellectually superior” card when he is way too unlikeable to pull it off the way Bobcat can. I have a very difficult time understanding how the powers that be in Rogers feel like he’s a suitable personality for these broadcasts. He more than anyone else, even more than Strombo and PJ, is hopefully the first casualty of any restructuring they do for next year.

    In terms of the play by play team, there should be room for Bob Cole beyond the second round of the playoffs. Rominuk just doesnt have it. He cannot conjure up anywhere near the excitement that Cole can and doesnt have anywhere near the knowledge that Hughson does. In terms of Hughson, I don’t really like his voice but do respect the man’s knowledge of hockey.

    Let’s see…who else do i have a beef with?:) Mike Johnson. He is quite knowledgeable and insightful but his personality is too dry. He can’t relate to audience all that well. Doug Mclean? his act is starting to get tiresome. Kypreos and Shannon don’t bug me as much as they bug a lot of other people on here. Phew. im outta breathe. that’s enough complaining for now.

    In conclusion, F&*%# Rogers!

  58. Mont in London Ont says:

    Just heard on the fan they are having Wilner on –
    With Bob off that is his only hope – They are also
    having Reid on and with Blair that was enough for me-
    I sent them the attached EMail and turned PTS off –
    I am sure they don’t care as I am not in Toronto
    and listen on my PC- Sheesh

    “It is bad enough with McCown gone – I just heard you are going to have Wilner on as wellas Reid – With Blair as host that is enough for me – I won’t be listening any longer today-
    Puhleeese no Wilner on PTS ever-“

  59. Mont in London Ont says:

    How is this for a constructive comment –
    PTS without McCown is just not the same –
    Replace Reid with someone who is not so
    childish with his fawning attitude to
    McCown -With Reid it begins to sound
    like 100 Huntley street-
    Replace Blair with rotating hosts
    when McCown is on leave – Once/twice a week
    with Blair is enough – As for Wilner I just
    don’t like the guy and his whole attitude-
    Siddall or even Hayhurst would be better
    however I don’t know what baggage they come
    Apologies to the ‘regulars’ for having an
    Constructive enough or just a barrage of shit?

  60. d says:

    I know a lot of people don’t like Blair but I like when he hosts pts. I feel it’s better radio when the host does his homework, and you know.. actually watches sports. I do like McCown but it seems like he’s been doing the exact same show for the last 3-4 years.

    I agree with a few posters above, PJ Stock is not good. He adds nothing to the broadcast except to make the rest of the panel look smart. I admit I did not see a lot of him because I tend not to watch the intermissions, but when I did it seemed like everyone on the panel felt the same way I did. Constantly talking over others. I remember Friedman was telling a heart felt story about the first time he met Bob Cole and Stock completely started talking over him and Friedman actually had to shush him. I hate to bash someone but he is as likable a broadcaster as he was a player.

  61. Mullah_Kintyre says:

    I have trouble believing there would be so many people in 2015 complaining about what gets shown on TV pre, post, and between periods of hockey games (as though there isn’t a nearly limitless amount of other sources for that kind of useless stuff today). I think a lot of the comments after online articles are that same one guy who has spent most of his waking hours for the last 10 or 15 years registering under different names to agree with himself and calling everyone else a poopy-head if they don’t like the CFL as much as he does.

  62. Curt says:

    Last time I checked, this was a blog that asked for opinion. If some folks aren’t interested in that, then I wonder why they would bother reading it or, better yet, why they would post complaints about people who complain.

  63. rob j says:

    Exactly. I’d rather have someone challenge an opinion with an equally strong one or correct a fact with the ‘truth’ than wimp out and complain when others do so. I ‘crushed’ ‘Bonsey and ralphie’ in a respnse and the original poster acted like I insulted a dear close personal friend. Accept that certain points won’t go unchallenged or stick with your ‘toronto sports teams and their media are glorious and perfect’ boards.

  64. FMW says:

    d: I am in agreement on you with Blair. McCown probably is more skilled as a host, but he just doesn’t seem to give a sh*t anymore. Blair at least seems to have some interest in a variety of sports topics. McCown is as repetitive and unimaginative as it comes these days

    Roger: I been thinking the same thing about the cast on Fan590. I don’t think there’s ever been a roster of unlikeable people from top to bottom. Blundell is a misogynist jerk. I like Blair but he can be a bit crusty. Brady comes off a bit of a prick (even though I am a fan) and Walker comes off as such a tool. McCown promotes himself as a hardass. Let’s not even get into guys like Wilner. The Fan these days is filled with guys I wouldn’t want to have a half an hour lunch with let alone spend three hours listening to.

    I always thought the criticism of Wilner is different than other hosts, because he’s part of the official broadcast team. If you are into baseball (which I am) and you want to hear a postgame show, it’s the only show in town (I do wish TSN radio would do a legit Bluejays post game show ala WGR Buffalo when they didn’t have the Bills rights but still did a post game show or currently 640AM for Leafs) I think he stands out more because it’s harder to avoid him as he’s the Fans registered “baseball expert”

    The thing that gets me most about Wilner is not just the shilling, but the inability to admit when he got something wrong. Sports is all about opinions and maybe you’re right, maybe you’re wrong. We’ve all been on both sides. There no shame in that. What makes him a joke is that he starts throwing out cheery picked stats to “prove his point” even though it conflicts with other stats who would use to make other points. Or use two sides of an argument just and conflict with himself just to make a point.

  65. Joe Fresh says:


    Were you not keeping track of how many times Wilners name was mentioned? or have you stopped cause that was a little weird?

  66. Anthony says:


    ‘my entire point is that if this is a media blog all media types and companies are subject to scrutiny and praise and people can respectfully agree to disagree with the praise or criticism. ‘

    Im all for that, but we should be free to express praise if needed without being subject to being called ‘homers’ or ‘rogers schills’…if you take a peek at the history of said poster, that’s a very common way to deal with those who don’t agree with his point, I’m sure you’ll see it again sometime soon.

  67. Joe Fresh says:


    I’m a regular contributor to the blog. I have not commented in a few weeks, nonetheless I read most of Mikes stuff. I’ve read on a few posts where you constantly attack one single poster for hating on Mike Wilner and Rogers, yet half this blog site does the same thing. I get to understand you do this on other blogs as well.
    You might consider commenting on another blog because a lot of comments here are directed at Wilner or Rogers or the NHL. What you are doing seems like borderline stalking. Why haven’t you attacked other Wilner and Rogers haters.


    If you don’t like Rogers (we hear it, every single post), then there are some amazing independent work being done by the blogger community who cover the team better then the mainstream guys.

    Andrew Stoeten has the best Blue Jays blog in the business and you should like him, hes battled with Wilner before (I think he said Wilner blocked him on twitter). But, he also has similar ideology as Wilner regarding managers, players and fan knee jerk reactions, so many you wont like him….

    Either way as others have said, if you don’t like something, don’t subject yourself to it, find other outlets. Otherwise you start sounding like the people who ‘hate’ Howard Stern yet know every thing that happens on the show.

    You can complain, or you can do something about it, I always like option 2.

  68. Gary Hart says:

    I hate to pile on but I can’t recall a less enjoyable Sports Radio morning show in Toronto than 590’s current lineup. The only thing more annoying than Dean Blundell is his sidekick George making sure to mention him by name every single time he opens his mouth. As they say in the NFL, “next man up” … please …

  69. Darrell says:

    I am not a fan of Mike Wilner and I am never one to be afraid to admit the distaste for Wilner. I am not saying that everyone acts appropriately here when talking about him, but my goodness we should be allowed to air our genuine distaste for his work at the FAN.

    We can leave the Jays Talk program on the FAN for his praise and butt kissers who constantly kiss up saying that they agree with him or “_____________(insert starting pitcher) had a great game and I was wrong” type of call.

    Hardly enjoyable radio but whatever floats Rogers boats I guess?

  70. Bill Waters says:

    I can’t stand Wilner or anything Rogers.

  71. Anthony says:


    I’m cool with anyone taking shots at Wilner, that’s the funny thing. I just dislike when I’m told that I can’t have a positive thing to say about Rogers. Poster in question has called myself and others homers, corporate schills, employees, etc…

    You guys want to rip on Wilner have at it, we cant respectfully disagree and move in like adults without resorting to that type of name calling, others (poster in question) always makes it personal. Some like Rogers on this blog, it doesn’t make them homers, shouldn’t be subject to that level of ridicule.

  72. Anthony says:


    Sorry for the double post, hate this taking up more then it should, but Ill add that it would appear by other postings here and in other blog entries im far from the only online, poster in questions seems to go after many others, as witnessed by other posts.

    Regardless apologies for making an issue of it, if it was just me cool id be quiet, but its not, its many others.

  73. d says:

    I like Wilner, but I have no problem with people ripping on him. I can see why some people (most people on this site) don’t like him. Just like any radio personality he has his shtick.

    The reason I noted how many times a poster mentioned Wilner is because as he does time and time again, he couldn’t get through a thread without mentioning his name. Neil likes to spew his hatred for Wilner, and unlike other posters who don’t like his style, he always takes it to an uncomfortable level of hatred. If that seems weird then I sincerely apologize.

    I’m not sure if anyone has ever asked before, but would it be possible to have more open threads or threads initiated by other posters. It may keep threads more focused on the topics. Certainly not a criticism, just thought.

    Keep up the good work mib and tsm.

  74. dogpounder says:

    Well that escalated quickly.

    I think Mike Wilner is excellent.

    …and it being an open comment section, I’m allowed to have the opinion that the constructive comments have declined. Apologies to those offended. I guess.

  75. Reggie says:

    Why does the NHL feel the need to put on an awards show at all and with c list stars no less? No other NA pro league does an Oscar night. Do they feel this is a marketing tool for their stars so fans can see them without helmets?

  76. Reggie says:

    @dogpounder. Could you elaborate on why you think “wilner is excellent”? I would just like to know what I may be missing with respect to his talent and why some may like him.

  77. Blue Jay Fan says:

    Dan Shulman,Tom Cheek,Jerry Howarth, Allan Ashby the best in Toronto sports broadcasting. Mike Wilner??? Gimmie a break people.

  78. William D says:


    seems like you took the first shot. The instigator is who? What did the comment by Neil have to do with Rogers.

    Neil says:

    June 22, 2015 at 7:56 am


    Your absolutely correct this is the reason the Toronto Raptors will never be an attraction south of the border, because there is equally no system there that can measure Canadians television interest in the team, therefore advertisers over there won’t give a fly n fadoo.

    Anthony says:

    June 22, 2015 at 8:47 am


    If you don’t like Rogers (we hear it, every single post), then there are some amazing independent work being done by the blogger community who cover the team better then the mainstream guys.

    Andrew Stoeten has the best Blue Jays blog in the business and you should like him, hes battled with Wilner before (I think he said Wilner blocked him on twitter). But, he also has similar ideology as Wilner regarding managers, players and fan knee jerk reactions, so many you wont like him….

    Either way as others have said, if you don’t like something, don’t subject yourself to it, find other outlets. Otherwise you start sounding like the people who ‘hate’ Howard Stern yet know every thing that happens on the show.

    You can complain, or you can do something about it, I always like option 2.

  79. Don River says:

    “I think a lot of the comments after online articles are that same one guy who has spent most of his waking hours for the last 10 or 15 years registering under different names to agree with himself and calling everyone else a poopy-head if they don’t like the CFL as much as he does”

    He must be related to that same one guy who propagates the theory that there is one guy spending most of his waking hours registering under different names to agree with himself and calling everyone else a poopy-head if they don’t like the CFL as much as he does.

    And Wilner IS excellent.

  80. Joe Fresh says:

    Based on the ads for the new Tim and Sid show, I could be wrong but the perception I get is that they will be targeting the casual sports fan. Seems like it’s going to be somewhat like a Dean Blundell format, which would be an absolute injustice to the sports knowledge of Tim and Sid. Again I could be wrong.

  81. Joe Fresh says:

    Sorry for the double post, I just wanted to add that if the Tim and Sid show does not succeed in the 4-7 timeslot, Bob Mcowans ego is going to be bigger than Ten Bob Mcowan heads put together. Bob will probably end up signing with the fan for another decade.

  82. dogpounder says:


    I enjoy his role as doomsday debunker, which he seems to have to play a lot.

    My least favorite thing about sports radio is the idiot callers. Mike puts them in their place for the most part, and I find it entertaining and refreshing.

    Sorry to all the haters.

  83. Bill Waters says:


    If you don’t mind me asking
    Do you also like the way Wilner always uses the “it’s early” excuse to berate callers, yet some callers have to remind him that the jays haven’t come close to a meaningful game in September dating back to ohhhhhhhh sometime 20+ years ago? In actuality over these past sad years for the Jays it’s always been to late way too early because there often out of it by June or July.

  84. Anthony says:


    100 percent agree, callers are the worst, its totally unintelligent dialog with emotions and complaining. Those who do their homework and are intelligent are few and far between. Often they are emotional based arguments or ‘vito from woodbridge’ types. I don’t listen to Jays talk, but when they are on Prime Time its hard to make it through the hour.

    Good thing is we may see a change now with the program director gone. When Don Kollins took over TSM wrote that he wanted to ‘engage’ fans and callers with call in shows. The station is not that bad anymore, there’s less of it but still way to much, hopefully whomever takes over hopefully puts an end to them all, even Jays Talk, im not sure what the point of that show is other then engaging pissed off fans. Its cheap programming, but totally lacks substance and intelligent thought.

  85. Darrell says:

    Could not disagree with post above anymore than I do right now.

    No point in Jays Talk calls? I am not a Jays fan but I am a fan of a divisional rival. This team (Jays) have been an utter joke for 20 years and need a venting tool (in this case Jays Talk) to air their frustration, disappointment and anger in the way the management structure is handling the team.

    Unlike the host of Jays Talk, who cannot deal with logic – this team has not made the playoffs in 22 years and currently holds the longest streak of NOT making the playoffs. Things are not rosey in Toronto! The way Mike Wilner portrays himself is a condescending, homer who cannot deal with facts and that this team has not been relevant on the sports scene in this city for 20 years.

    Yes, perhaps some callers are a bit moronic or silly! Sure! However, who exactly wants to hear call after call praising the team constantly and not throwing any criticism their way? How ‘enjoyable’ is that to listen to for a solid hour or hour and a half? Is that what constitutes as entertaining radio?

    Keeping Jays Talk is great! Changing the host of Jays Talk would be the best thing. Clearly engaging with callers is not Wilner’s excelling point and arguing and bashing people for venting about their team does not constitute enjoyable radio.

    Who’s kidding who? The station is crap!

  86. JP McGee says:

    No callers so we can listen to unchallenged Rogers propaganda all day? No thank you.

  87. Bill Waters says:


    I’m totally in your corner, Jaystalk started way before this moron took over and he came in and destroyed the programme. Those who call Mike excellent have absolutely no clue who the guys before Mike were. Dan Shulman was great as was Scott Ferguson, these guys had class and integrity even when dealing with irate callers and knew the game of baseball. Yelling at callers or berating them is absolutely ridiculous and probably appeases the teenage listeners who want Jerry Springer on radio. It baffles me that people love when Mike sensors objectivity how is that real genuine radio. Nelson should rebrand the show to Jays Praise, starring Mr “it’s still early” Wilner. 20+ years removed from the playoffs, haven’t sniffed since but it’s still early.
    I’m with you @Darrell change the host already, get rid of Mike in the booth pay a boatload to bring back Allan Ashby.

  88. Joe Fresh says:

    Wilner is the same guy that says there is no such thing as hustle in baseball because baseball is not hockey, yet during the broadcast him and his colleagues have use the phrase “hustle down the line”, then he’ll say something unintelligent like “hitting is all luck”, if that is the case tell me how some hitters have 4 or 5 straight years of 20 homeruns or 30 homeruns? what about the guys that have 3000 hits?. You don’t luck your way to the majors and milestones.

    And the fans are idiots?

  89. yaz says:

    I hate Wilner too. But I listen – and maybe to Rogers that is the point. If it isn’t the point, then the only other reason he is on radio is because maybe he is related to someone high up at Rogers?

    Best Wilner call was last year when a caller used a pitching stat to backup his point – Wilner, in his openly disdainful, mocking voice said quickly ‘I don’t know about that stat, where did you come up with THAT one?’ Caller: ‘From your network, it was on the bottom of the screen during the game.’ badabing.
    Wilner: ‘Oh. Well, I’ll have to check into that.’

  90. mickey b says:

    I know it’s totally unrelated to all the Jays talk stuff but I’m looking for a place to vent about the NHL Draft coverage last night. Elliotte Friedman was by far and away the best thing the broadcast had going for it last night and he was probably seen the least. I even think that John Shannon had more air time to contribute ridiculousness. I know he’s just fine in life but the way he comes across on air I can’t help but feel sorry for him. I feel like he’s that super try hard guy who thinks if he can somehow get more air time we’ll all come around to see that he knows his stuff… whatever. Then it came to the “stars” of the show in terms of broadcasters. Cox and that Sam guy. Are you kidding me? The only thing I’ll give them credit for is persistence and a wee bit of creativity. The way they could say in different ways that the prospect needed to physically mature for every single player. Nice research guys. If they attempted to say anything beyond a teenager needing to physically mature it was as though they were talking to their 5 year old son. Is this their plan to appeal to a younger audience? Or are they really this dumb that they think their insights were of any value to anybody who’s watched more than one hockey game in their life? Embarassing for Rogers that they’d put tweedle dumb and tweedle dee as their experts. The good… Mike Johnson did save some credibility by adding some decent analysis and again Friedman was very good in every bit that he had (which again was few and far between- is he too intelligent for what they were trying to appeal to?). George was cast in his strength with interviewing the players. Not that he got anything beyond an “I’m just really excited” but nobody really does in that situation. Overall, the analysts just made this whole coverage look D rate and a complete debacle. Too bad, I had been really looking forward to this night.

  91. Andrew says:

    @mickey b

    I don’t know what you’re complaining about. If TSN had broadcast it we would have been stuck with Dreger, McKenzie and Mcguire.

    oh wait…never mind

  92. Dr says:

    I really enjoyed last night’s coverage and looking forward to today’s

  93. rob j says:

    Problem with draft coverage in this media age is that by the big day, the months of lead-up coverage by every hockey ‘expert’ (haha) means there’s really no new info to report on the draftees. Just a lot of repetitive fluff where everyone’s great and each team makes the perfect selection, even when the local one picks a 150 lb centre!

  94. Don River says:

    Sportsnet pays a gazillion dollars and can’t provide 2nd-day coverage of the draft? Pathetic!

  95. Sam in Scarb says:

    I did not watch the NHL draft mainly due to it being on sportsnet.I knew in advance i would not be getting any information i had not been force-fed for the past month along with their cast of experts? being how shall i say,second rate.

  96. Poker Guy says:

    I watched the draft on Friday, just to see if the broadcast would be any good. It wasn’t bad. Yes, I was used to seeing Duthie and Co. But, it wasn’t as bad as i thought it was going to be. When parts were lame, I tuned into TSN 1050, and would flip back and forth. I will say that Dreger broke the O’Rielly trade before the SN guys on tv did.

    Hey 11 more years of this on SN, so what choice do I have?

  97. KT in Van says:

    Wow, a lot of Strombo hate here.

    Not surprising though…always find the person who looks or sounds different and there’s the bullseye.

    The most popular panel shows in the States are NBA on TNT and NFL on Fox.

    They’re popular because they have former players (Barkley, Shaq, Strahan, Bradshaw) who offer insight, humour, wit and can be a bit self deprecating. Some may find this annoying, but at least they come across as normal humans who are relatable when it comes to sitting around and having a sports discussion. When Fox Sports went from James Brown to Curt Menefee as host, no one batted an eye. HNIC goes from Ron MacLean to Strombo and the entire country is ready to burn to the ground.

    For a panel show, the host should not be the star. The problem is the former players. They can’t let their guard down for one second…they’re robots who churn out cliche after cliche. If I took a drink every time I heard the words ‘Character’, ‘Compete’, ‘Compete Level’ on HNIC this past season, I would be dead right now or on the transplant list waiting for a new liver.

  98. Where is payroll headed if the Jays don’t make the playoffs this year and the Canadian dollar continues to flounder?

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