Fascinating Monday Toronto Sports Reading Post Superbowl


We will be hard pressed to find a coaching decision as brutal as the one Pete Carroll made last night. I am not going to go through the painful, gory details but I am still quite stunned at what I witnessed.

I will say this, kudos to Carroll for owning it without hesitation. Same to those on the Seahawks who called it as they saw it.


Yet when it comes to our national broadcasters, all things Toronto keep stomping on all things Montreal. On Sunday, it was Prince Smarming himself, Ron MacLean, jumping in at the end of a graceful segment on Dick Irvin Jr. to make it all about himself. We might as well get used to it: given the demographics of southern Ontario, the Leafs are going to rule the airwaves through the 21st century and beyond and all we can do is shrug and flip to RDS.

Someone or something got Jack Todd’s ire this weekend as he ripped the Maple Leafs a new one, including those who cover the game of hockey in Toronto…

Two different points raised by Todd though in that bit don’t you think? One, he clearly has no time for MacLean. Second, and I don’t know what this has to do with MacLean, but the continued focus of hockey broadcasters in this country continues to be where the vast majority of the population lives. Is anyone surprised by that?

But Todd was just getting started…

The problems in Toronto start right at the top, with the two-headed monster that is Rogers and Bell and the astonishing Tim Leiweke, who is bailing prematurely after that arrogant stroll around town mapping out the route for the Leafs’ Stanley Cup parade. It includes Brendan Shanahan, whose main executive talent would appear to be sucking up to the suits that sign the paycheques, and poor Dave Nonis, the nonentity the suits brought in because they didn’t like Brian Burke with his missing tie and his tendency to call a spade a spade.


One thing about Todd, he leaves absolutely NOTHING to our imagination.

He totally ripped Shanahan which I think is quite odd given that he’s so new on the job but defends Nonis? By the way, Nonis wasn’t brought it by the suits, he was brought in by Burke….details, details, details….

Todd makes two final interesting points:

First: “It’s almost as if it were being willed from within the room, where the “leadership” group provides the collective cohesion of a bunch of unsupervised kindergarteners fighting over a pile of Lego.

This is interesting to me in that it kind of echoes what’s been said on Brady and Walker a few times but only at a high level. They have alluded to the point that the move with Carlyle had to be made because things were SO bad in the room something had to be done. We’ve heard whispers about leadership issues during and after salutegate but little more has been said or written. If the past is any indication the truth will come out this summer.

Second: “Phil Kessel, bless his fat and lazy soul, is a talent. He’s even a durable talent, out there night after night, perhaps because he doesn’t wear himself out backchecking. But he’s the Carmelo Anthony of the NHL, an entitled coach-killer whose tantalizing potential only makes the annual disappointment more bitter.

I don’t quite get the fascination with attacking a guy who consistently scores 30 goals playing alongside guys who are about as talented as those in my Thursday night beer league. The fat comment is really professional don’t ya think???

The second article is more relevant here and it’s the piece written by David Shoalts over at the Globe and mail. It seems that the ratings for Rogers hockey venture aren’t what ownership envisioned and what do we do when that happens? We blame the system!

We have been in discussions with Numeris for some time about the reporting of both regional and national sports viewing,” Moore said. “As you probably know, several sports properties seem to be down, which is contrary to what we are seeing south of the border. [The] CFL was down substantially this year as well. We are concerned about both the multiplatform reporting and the regional and sports representation on the Numeris panels.

It is really funny to hear the blame for the low ratings is being pointed at the ratings provider.

In my professional life I’ve had to rely on statistics from third parties that I frequently didn’t believe. My response was always that I only wanted to ensure that they were consistently wrong in the same ways so I could measure them from period to period.

I’ve said too many times how busted the radio ratings system is, but it’s the only system we got and it’s bad for everyone.

Why wouldn’t Rogers just come out and say, we’ve made a huge investment, there are growing pains and we are going to figure this out.

Since Rogers budgeted for a 20-per-cent increase in viewers this season and went to advertisers with a similar increase in rates, the declines are continuing bad news. The company’s board of directors is said to be putting pressure on the sales and hockey departments to do something because Rogers is committed to paying the NHL $5.2-billion over the next 12 years for the national Canadian broadcast rights.

Those in the business chuckled when they heard what Rogers was spending on hockey rights.

The fact that the regular games, all star games, winter classic games aren’t drawing well compared to previous seasons, in my mind is more of a cyclical thing then an indication of performance.

The Leafs being a disaster isn’t going to help. The fact that the Toronto market isn’t all that interested in games that don’t include Toronto isn’t a shock or shouldn’t be to those who have paid any attention over the last decade or so. If the national game switched off the leafs does anyone, Jack Todd included, think the ratings would improve? How many people in the Ontario market would suddenly watch because it was a Habs game and not a Leafs game? That weekday Columbus vs. Nashville tilt is never going to be a draw in the Ontario market.

I wrote on this website when the news broke about the changes at the Fan 590 that I wondered what exactly the real reason for the changes were. Serval industry insiders have reached out to me since and all said the same thing. Changes in the business are rarely made for any other reasons besides ratings (or advertising dollars). No, that doesn’t mean Brady and Walker didn’t have good ratings. More likely that that things were going to be moved around to generate bigger numbers on TV and radio across the board. If I had to bet, Tim and Sid’s numbers in the afternoon wasteland weren’t bringing a good return for their cost and someone believes they will draw better and therefore be more profitableon tv. There was a gap in the radio schedule and it’s a slot Brady has held before. Then there was an opportunity to diversify the morning show by bringing in a shock jock…. All of this conjecture of course. None of the changes would be contemplated if the ratings were awesome across the board though, that much I am certain of.

That’s my take for what it’s worth.

Happy Monday

The Jack Todd article is here

The David Shoalt’s article is here

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