NHL Deadline Is Canadian Sports Media At It’s Best


I love the folks who dump cold water on what is one of the highlights of the Canadian sports media events of the year.

According to TSN, TSN.ca got 2.6 million Unique visitors last year on deadline day. The year before the website achieved 15.8 million pageviews.

Those aren’t small numbers.

The TV networks start early. They stay late.

Both radio stations will be going full tilt, twitter will be in full force and other websites that cover the game experience record traffic as well.

I say it all the time, but the NHL should do it on a Saturday or Sunday and recognize it as a major event. Why not do it the weekend of the All Star game while all the GM’s are in the same city even???

Each outlet will have tons of guests, panelists and experts, hell Rogers, Telus and Bell must make a mint alone in cell phone fees that day.

So those who dump all over the event who are in the game are likely the few who are left out of the party.

The truth of the matter is, the networks feed the audience. If people weren’t tuning in they wouldn’t go to the effort.

We the fans love this stuff. We watch, listen and participate to be part of the action, to experience it as it happens.

It’s not so dissimilar from NBA or NFL draft day south of the border.

In an day and age when live sports attendance is in decline, is it such a bad thing that people are tuning in?

So it’s overkill. So it’s over-hyped. No one gets hurt, it’s let’s play GM for a day, let’s critique every move as it happens. Why is that a bad thing again?

Every deadline day is the same. It starts early. Each outlet throws out ALL the big names. They take a tour of the league, checking in with experts around the league. They examine the likely big names who could be on the move. Then they wait. Usually, at some point around noon a deal comes in and then it’s in dribs and drabs. There are big rumors dropped and twitter explodes. A ton of small insignificant deals happen and the critiques are rampant about what a waste of time the whole day is. Eventually a big deal occurs and then a slew of midsized deals. You see GM’s chatting, empty war rooms (the leafs is the best with a bunch of guys sitting around a board room doing absolutely nothing)

Then, my favorite part. The clock goes past the deadline and every expert says the same thing, “remember the teams have to register the trade phone call before the deadline, it can take hours for the calls to actually occur so just because a deal hasn’t been announced doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened.”

Eventually the major GM’s come out one by and talk about what they did or didn’t do.

Then the news shows recap the day, first of course by telling us exactly how many deals there were, how many compared to last year and so on.

In the end, it’s good ol fun. No one cures cancer, no one dies, people enjoy it, so stop slagging it.

I am not sure which is more depressing by the way, watching as the Maple Leafs season appears to be going down the drain or glancing at Blue Jays spring training with no hope at all. It seems that spring is not the time of dreams down in Florida this year. Most articles are already focused on next year when the full roster of players hasn’t even shown up yet:

“Why is it the Jays’ organization — from Rogers on down, very quietly each spring since the dawn of Alex Anthopoulos as the team’s GM — continues to speak of “rebuilding,” of a “process,” of staying the course, of sticking to a plan?”

That from Richard Griffin, who is just one example of the popular sentiment out there.

Sorry folks, but if there is genuine excitement out there I am just not seeing, hearing or reading it. It’s not even March 1 and were already looking forward past this season. Yikes, that should do wonders for ticket sales.

Meanwhile, it’s one thing to suck when your supposed to suck. Wow have the wheels fallen off the Washington Capitals and in a hurry. They fired their coach and brought in the wondacoach from London and things have gotten worse not better. Great take on the whole situation by Bruce Arthur:

“And today the Capitals are imploding like an old Vegas casino. Their best player is concussed, and more, their best player is not Alexander Ovechkin, who is also struggling with a lower-body injury. The coach they hired out of junior to replace the coach they fired has benched players for their plus-minus, or for taking penalties, and gotten the goaltender’s agent to fire back at him over criticism of the goalie. Oh, and the coach they fired has his Anaheim Ducks on a fine little 15-3-4 run. Not bad.”

I lived in Washington in the pre – OV era. I was at the phone booth when there were literally empty sections, not rows, but SECTIONS. It’s been a great run for that team since OV came to town, but wow, this is going to be really interesting to see what happens there. Could George McPhee have spend the last of his 9 lives?

Happy Friday!


Photo from Sportsnet

About the Author
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
February 24, 2012 1:40 am

“say it all the time, but the NHL should do it on a Saturday or Sunday and recognize it as a major event. Why not do it the weekend of the All Star game while all the GM’s are in the same city even???”

This is actually a great point. Having said that, I don’t watch any of trade deadline stuff (or the July 1st stuff)… just unreal overkill in my opinion. Still, for those who love it, it makes sense to put it on a weekend.

“Sorry folks, but if there is genuine excitement out there I am just not seeing, hearing or reading it. It’s not even March 1 and were already looking forward past this season. Yikes, that should do wonders for ticket sales.”

A lot of people are pissed off, but I’m going to stand by the point that people are more engaged in the Jays now than they have been in years. Maybe since the late 90s. Anger is better than apathy. At the risk of looking stupid, I’m going to say I think you guys will be pleasantly surprised by this team this year. Maybe not a playoff team, but if there’s a 2nd Wildcard, I think they’re good enough to play meaningful September baseball.

Rob C.
February 24, 2012 4:39 am

I give credit to the sports channels for making it what it is. Anyone recall the NHL Trade Deadline in the early or mid 90s? I don’t. Trades were made but until the TSN/Sportsnet battle began it didn’t take off. In 2000, Sportsnet beat TSN in the ratings for the trade deadline. Hard to believe now, however that did happen. After that is when TSN really went full force.

For me it’s like the World Juniors, ‘If you build it, they will come’. A media company taking a hockey event not many people cared about and putting their full support behind it. I’ll catch a bit of trade deadline day, but I prefer to just wait till the end of the day and read everything.

February 24, 2012 5:12 am

I don’t mind the hype. my biggest problem is that, living in the states, all of this hoopla on two channels, TSN and Sportsnet, I can’t watch (legally) does get tiresome. It’s also slightly aggravating that it will be no Marek v Wyshynski podcast that day live, since they’ll be doing other stuff on Sportsnet.

February 24, 2012 5:22 am

Not great for TV or radio if it is a slow day…but agree it should be done on the weekend to market it better especially in the states…

Another Steve
Another Steve
February 24, 2012 11:15 am

I feel the exact opposite: trade deadline day is the most overhyped and pointless sporting event of the year. It’s only interesting to me in a “metajournalism” kind of way. That is, I find it fascinating how the sports media try to turn this into a big story and they compete against each other to break the most trivial piece of news. And, yes, it is funny to see silly sports reporters pose for ads when they are on their cell phones, just as if they are major reporters dealing with important issues. “What, a puck-moving defenceman is going to Nashville…..Wait, I hear X is going to the Rangers. Don’t know much about him, but I hear that he’s ‘a good hockey guy.””

It’s just a race to the bottom, in my opinion. They talk about hockey 24/7 because they think that’s what the audience craves.

Let’s hope some people put up fake twitter accounts to mess them all up this year. At least that would make it interesting.

Mike S
Mike S
February 24, 2012 1:28 pm

The trade deadline coverage is definitely overkill………….but if the interest is there (and it clearly is) then I don’t know how I can criticize the networks for the extensive coverage……………….I like the comparison to the World Juniors………….TSN is guilty of overhyping that tournament but the ratings they get are incredible so they are not going to stop doing that anytime soon

I like the idea of having the deadline on a weekend……………if they are going to keep it on a weekday they should move it to 9:00 PM or 10:00 PM and have no games scheduled that night…………….if the deadline is going to remain at 3:00 PM then I wish the networks would start their coverage later than 8:00 AM because there are almost never any trades done that early in the day

I am a huge Duthie fan but I am already getting tired of him complaining whenever a trade happens before trade deadline day instead of on trade deadline day……………..I realize he is partially joking but when he does it over and over and over it gets a bit annoying

February 24, 2012 1:51 pm

It can be entertaining but it’s also the worst of hockey culture, you take ever checking line winger who splits his time sitting on the bench during games half the time and sitting in the arena box as a healthy scractch the other half and make their trade for a fifth round draft pick and talk about if for half an hour.

But the sportsmedia geek in me likes seeing them stall for time, who can think on their feet, and who calls it first and who can pull off the “I look busy while really doing nothing” look, which is my personal favorite.

Sea Bass
Sea Bass
February 24, 2012 4:19 pm

Another Steve – Spot on…couldn’t have said it better myself.


[…] the All Star Break and the deadline. Some get annoyed by the coverage, while others (such as Toronto Sports Media) love it. The ratings, in fact, show that many love […]

February 25, 2012 9:53 am

In their never-ending quest to be “first” with a story, the media/networks have lost site of the what the day really is. Much like the World Junior tournament, they are obsessed with creating an event – and they have to be seen as scooping any information they can from their competitors.

The World Junior’s was once a quaint tournament that was fun to watch and enjoy for what it was. Now it is a Tim Horton’s, flag waving. HOCKEY IS OUR GAME!!! over-the-top fest.

TSN has poured millions into creating that event. The viewers have bought in because they do like hockey and the feel they must be patriotic. We are almost more American than the Americans.

However, my rant notwithstanding, Trade Deadline Day is being pumped as almost the same thing. The media/networks sell it as “must viewing”.

Really? Another Steve Nash story? Really?

It’s kind of fun, a neat distraction throughout the day, the viewing numbers don’t lie… but it sure isn’t very entertaining.

February 25, 2012 11:33 am

Really? Another Steve Nash mixup for Rick Nash? Really?


New name – Dumb & Anchor.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x