Seen & Heard – Weekend Edition

photo credit: CTV


by mike in boston / @mikeinboston / hatemailaccount at gmail


Good morning sports media fans. Not a ton of big stories this week but lots of small ones. As always, if I missed something you want to discuss, leave a link in the comments. Also, I didn’t listen to much radio this week. If you hear good (or bad) segments and want to see them discussed in this space, either hit me up on Twitter, email, or leave a comment. Lastly, a huge thanks to last week’s guest Eric Koreen for some top notch insights on basketball media coverage in Toronto. Ok, let’s roll …


Whither Walker?


The news broke this week that Andrew Walker may not be staying on the FAN’s morning show. TSM first reported that Walker might be on the move to afternoons with Greg Brady, and Shoalts followed up the next day with a report of his own confirming TSM’s story and adding some speculation about who might be Blundell’s new co-host. The name Shoalts posits is Ryan Pinder of the Rogers owned sports station in Calgary. This is the same radio station that was employing both Walker and TSN’s Mike Richards before they came to Toronto. Shoalts clarified on Twitter that 590 has offered Pinder the job but the latter has not yet accepted.



This led to Blundell chiming in with a bizarrely punctuated swipe at Shoalts:


Ok, so what we know is that the FAN is looking for at least one Blundell co-host, and presumably some other characters to round out the “& Co” part of the show. What we don’t know is if Walker is definitely out, and if Pinder is definitely in. We also don’t know if Walker has been guaranteed a spot next to Brady or if he might be moved elsewhere on the station, or off the station completely.


What we do know is that this is a gigantic mess. There is no way that this was the plan for rolling out the changes to the line-up. This leads one to wonder what exactly is going on behind the scenes.


There are lots of theories floating out there about the catalyst for the current predicament. As I wrote when the Blundell news broke, one theory has it that the TV side of Rogers forced the issue by poaching Tim&Sid. Another theory is that someone high up at Rogers has been lusting after Blundell since his firing from 102.1 and finally pulled the trigger to set this all in motion. Setting those issues aside, the newest round of changes has many possible explanations. It’s conceivable that Walker refused to work with Blundell. It’s also conceivable that Blundell didn’t want Walker. It’s also possible that the early trials of Blundell & Walker did not sound good and so Kollins decided to go in another direction. It’s also possible that Pinder is a rising star and leveraged himself into the conversation once the original changes were announced.


I won’t speculate on which one of these things is the real reason. Only a handful of people know the truth and they are not talking publicly. My own opinion is that the best way to salvage this PR trainwreck is to send Walker to afternoons with Brady and groom the show to take over from Bob when PTS is done in approximately 24 months. There has been no heir apparent to PTS for a long time now, and the FAN needs to have a plan for life after McCown. This also saves Walker from the ignominy of having to be Blundell’s sports nurse. Let someone looking to make a career upgrade take on that difficult job.


Last thought on this issue: I am a little sad that no one currently working in part-time on-air roles is being considered for any of these co-host jobs. The FAN has a glass ceiling problem in that, with the exception of Eric Smith, none of the young talent have been able to work their their way up to a full-time on-air position at the station. My vote would be for Ben Ennis to get a regular gig on Blundell’s show. He has a goofy sense of humour, is credible enough on most sports topics, and would probably be able to roll with whatever Dean throws out there.


Over to you: what’s the most likely outcome when the dust settles at the FAN? Who would you like to see promoted? Who the hell is this Pinder fellow? Why is Calgary the feeder for Toronto sports? Could this have gone much worse for the FAN?


Quick Hits – Media Stories


Numeris is doing a good job of keeping its name in the news. I wonder why ratings are all of a sudden a hot topic in Canadian media. Kate Taylor at the Globe has an interesting piece on why Numeris has been running ads asking you to talk to them. As an aside, Numeris is still not talking to me about the latest radio ratings book.


Still with ratings, @mforbes37 has a blistering piece over at PPP on what’s wrong with Rogers’ hockey coverage and why the ratings are relatively speaking in the tank. We have debated this topic endlessly here so not all of his points will be new to you, but it’s a really excellent overview of the coverage and some nice suggestions for how to fix it.


A few weeks back the Star had a nice profile on Dean Blundell’s ex co-host Todd Shapiro. Apparently he’s a much different man now and is looking for a fresh start in the public’s eyes. I’m not sure who paid for this story to be written since it’s billed as a “special to the Star” but it was an interesting read nonetheless.


So long SUN-TV. It’s bad news for all those media people who have lost their jobs. It is, however, good news for Canadians that this retrograde style of newsy-entertainment has been thoroughly repudiated by the market. This news overshadowed the announcement that Yahoo was firing a bunch of their Canadian staff, mostly in the editorial division. Best wishes to all those affected by these job losses.


Lastly, FIFA curiously extended its rights deals in North America to include the 2026 tournament (in a location yet TBA). The reason this is curious is that it was done without an open bidding process. If there is one thing FIFA is known for it’s their love of money, so this is very strange. If I’m Bell I am happy but also worried that FIFA will one day ask me for a favour in return for this. Dan over at CSF has some theories about what might be precipitating this decision.


Quick Hits – Everything Else


Cyd Zeigler, past guest on PTS, and writer at OutSports has a very very long article about Michael Sam being shut out of the NFL since Week 7. He makes a compelling case that Sam’s orientation has played a role in this. He also speculates about the merits of Sam coming to the CFL. The Score is reporting that Sam is drawing some NFL interest from the Arizona Cardinals. Personally, I had hoped that Sam would make a team just so we would be over the hump of “the 1st openly gay man in the NFL” headlines. This guarantees that we will have to go through that news cycle all over again at some point in the future.


Still with Arizona, anyone else miss Mike Sunnucks? He’s the guy who was on PTS every few weeks for, oh, the last 5 years or so, to discuss the fate of the Coyotes. Anyway, he’s back with a story about the city selling a library while at the same time paying the Coyotes $15 million to manage the publicly owned arena. I’m so familiar with all the characters down there now that I would probably watch a sitcom loosely based around Glendale city politics.


Brendan Kennedy at the Star has a nice story on Alison Gordon, a trailblazer for women sports journalists who died this week at age 72. You know it’s a good story when Richard Deitsch links to it.


Rachel Brady continues to do good work writing about the Raptors. She had a story this week on the enigmatic Kyle Lowry. Most of the piece is interesting but it founders when she tries to draw a connection between Lowry signing a deal with Canadian retailer Sportchek and his commitment to Canada. For example, she writes: “On Monday, the Philadelphia native weaved further into the country’s sporting fabric by landing his first Canadian endorsement deal.” I’m sorry but I don’t see anything here. To put a nationalistic spin on an advertising deal is kind of silly. This aspect of the story could easily be summed up as: “Lowry likes money, even if it comes in Canadian dollars.”


We don’t talk much Cox here since PTS dumped him for Ken Reid, but Damien appeared on TorontoMike’s podcast to talk about the gutless people he blocks on Twitter and why Toronto sports fans can’t seem to handle his rational Cox-takes. Listen here.


Lastly, MMA fighter and national hero George St. Pierre spoke candidly about PED usage in the UFC. Here’s the money quote: ““A performance-enhancing drug is […] a biological weapon. It’s an advantage that you have over your opponent that you should not be able to compete with. Because you put the health of the competitor in jeopardy.” I am going to try to find someone covering that industry to  talk to me about the PED issue and what it is doing to the sport.


Low Hanging Fruit


  • It must be spring training season soon because Mike Wilner was on my radio talking about how great the pitching will be this season. The truth is we’re all excited about Marcus Stroman but can we give him a full season to prove himself before we anoint him a star? I know it’s hard to be objective when you’re a fan, but still …


  • Can we all say a big thank you to the sports media members who DON’T tweet about the Grammys and other pop culture events. You’re the real MVPs of my twitter feed.


  • This week’s moment of unintentional comedy on PTS, courtesy of Bob McCown: “When I retire I may stop watching sports.”


  • Shout out to the person on the FAN morning show who threw in The Cure as a bumper this week.


  • Late entry: the #sunflowerspitter story from a previous thread continues to make me laugh whenever I think about it.




thanks for reading and commenting,

until next time …

mike (not really in boston)

About the Author
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
February 14, 2015 11:22 am

PTS gone in 24 months? Please say it ain’t so…! 🙁

February 14, 2015 11:40 am

Thanks for the links MiB.

Here’s another. I guess Bob or Naylor will have Brochu on their shows soon (or did I miss it).

A quote from the article.

“In the last chapter of his memoir, Mr. Brochu issues a dire prediction: “With the exception of Toronto, all Canadian cities boasting professional sports teams risk losing them one day. Many teams are already dangling by threads.””

Steve Jones
Steve Jones
February 14, 2015 12:19 pm

I have to admit I don’t listen to morning shows so I dont care who is on them. But Blundell must be an idiot if he thinks attacking anyone at this point on Twitter is a good idea. Seems to me if his skin is this thin pre launch he will implode when he gets on air. I hardly think the Fan is going to want their new “changed” morning guy to be attacking writers for doing their jobs. I see a train wreck coming.

I read the piece on PPP. Thanks. It pretty much encapsulated the issues discussed here. What was most interesting were the comments. Everybody hates every on air talent with a few begrudging exceptions. Largely because they all are critical of Toronto. Hello? The team has sucked for almost 50 years with a couple of decent seasons thrown in. What are they supposed to say. If you want homerism and excuses and wishful thinking throw on Bowen. You can get your fill in the first period.

I do admit because I am a business news junkie the Coyotes story has always been interesting for me. Yesterday in Primerime right at the 6 o’clock open they were discussing the fact that they had $16K in parking revenues in the first half of the season and the city had hired a guy to audit the clubs finances. Fascinating. I just heard the Canadian partner a couple of weeks ago talking about how well they were doing. Is there more to the story? I’ll be keeping my eyes in it.

Lastly, Wilner. My gish is there a more condescending, argumentative homer in sports broadcasting. I rarely find someone on radio personally unlikeable. But Wilner, he fits the bill for me. And on a related note glad to see baseball is coming back soon because, well at least on the Fan, it hasn’t gone away. In their own unique style rogers has managed to non stop cross promotie their team through endless and manufactured stories all off season. Even the Leafs don’t get summer coverage and they have a ton more fans than the Jays. Somehow rogers has never learned the concept of burnout. They do it with the Jays, they’re doing it with the NHL.

Oh , and bye bye Sun news. We will all miss your unique brand of hate.

WestDale Rocks
WestDale Rocks
February 14, 2015 12:25 pm

If PTS continues to roll out Ken Reid, it can be gone in 24 hours, as far as I’m concerned. (although, I have to say there IS some hope when Blair was the co-host later in the week. Granted, it’s Blair—but even Blair is a HUGE upgrade to Reid.

Sam in Scarb
Sam in Scarb
February 14, 2015 12:33 pm
February 14, 2015 12:48 pm

My guess is that it will be either Blair or Brunt that host PTS when (and I dislike saying this) Bob McCown retires. I have been a fan of Bob’s since 1988 when PTS and its predecessor Talking of Sports was born. I have basically grown up listening to Bob and the airwaves without him would be very different for me. I would probably just listen to Jays games and that would be it. I will try Blundell on for size when that show starts but my guess is that I am not in the demographic that the show will be geared to. That will leave me as a radio orphan basically. I have XM radio both at home and in the car and that is probably where I will have to find a new listening pleasure. Every radio host retires at some point…there are some across the country that have been in the business for 30-40 years that are retiring this year from my recent reading of such phenomenons but PTS has been my go to and life without it for me is unimaginable and leaves a void.

February 14, 2015 12:54 pm

From the Numeris related article — “The nice folks at Numeris just wish you’d take their calls; I just wish they’d take mine.”
No! Don’t do it! If you contact them, once they know your phone number, they’ll pester you until you agree to fill out and return a radio listening diary for a week, followed a couple of weeks later by a pointless and annoying 70-page survey.

If the numbers really have “ballooned” as they claim, why do they now need to do their own advertising to encourage people to participate?
Their system archaically depends on getting people to answer their home phones and agree to volunteer for a week. In 2015, who still answers unsolicited calls from unknown numbers (or still has a home phone for that matter)? Not that Numeris tells us much about Canada, but if it’s anything like in the US the TV ratings now heavily skew to show people over 50 years old. I would guess they’re probably getting very few younger people to take part (and maybe that might explain the alleged enduring TV ratings popularity of stuff like curling and the CFL).

But undoubtedly fewer younger people are paying attention to the older types of media anyway. Any articles I’ve seen on the subject, particularly from the U.S., have statistics showing that the number of traditional TV channel viewers is significantly decreasing because younger viewers, who happen to be the ones advertisers want to target, are increasingly not watching. Even in Canada, TV advertising is steadily decreasing and has already been surpassed by digital advertising in terms of revenue. The TV business, like newspapers, will be contracting.

February 14, 2015 1:22 pm

Nice roundup, mike (in boston)!

This is an absolute must-read every week. Kudos!

February 14, 2015 1:36 pm

I enjoy PTS and listening to McCowan! I have for years! But! Bob is nearing the end of his career and sometimes mails it in! He needs equally shilled co-hosts to ignite that spark on a daily basis.mreid is useless! So odd that Blair did his morning show and co-hosted all week. Is this a ratings measurement week? As much as Cox is now full of himself he was great with Bob. Work on having outstanding co-hosts and PTS will continue to be great. Blair, Brunt, Freidman, Cooper are currently the best!

February 14, 2015 2:55 pm

TSN1050 continues along with their crappy signal when will they ever improve it??

But I am listening way more to TSN1050 than FAN590 these days Naylor and Simmons are good as is Tatti & Hogan while McCown needs a new co-host…

The Listenable…
Naylor Simmons Tatti Hogan Dreger McKenzie Wheeler McCown
Kypreos Maclean ODog Campbell Zahn

The Annoying Unlistenable & Don’t Listen To Them…
Brady Walker Sam & Ted Reid Sammutt Ennis Ruhoman Wilner Richards Hayes McLennan Macko & Coz

Would love to hear Bill Watters back on PTS again with Bobcat those 2 old coots re-united would be a real hoot!!

February 14, 2015 4:29 pm

I’m thinking its time to quit sports for a while. I’ll probably fail miserably.

February 14, 2015 4:39 pm

Love your weekly posts, Mike. Highlight of the site.

The Blundell thing is going to be really interesting. I really don’t think it will work unless it’s more ‘guy talk’ than sports talk. You can’t really fake it. Andrew Krystal trying to BS his way through sports talk could make you cringe.

I don’t think it’s really a PR mess yet though. Honestly, I feel like 99% of listeners just know Blundell is going to be on in the morning, and probably don’t even really realize who the ‘& co’ are supposed to be yet.

February 14, 2015 5:34 pm

Interesting article on Corey Hirsch in today’s Toronto Star. However I found it odd wherein Elliott Friedman just decides to help out Hirsch for no real reason… Odd only cause I read it as we’re both the same religion, so I hooked him up with someone else of the same religion and that’s how he got his HUGE break….

I know it’s controversial…. But that’s how I read it…

Others read it differently?

February 14, 2015 10:04 pm


Just popping to say the soft bigotry of your comment is wholly unappreciated.

February 14, 2015 10:26 pm


Fair comments. I’m not here to defend what crossed my mind as I read it. But as a social activist and educator, I’m being honest with what I thought.

Just out of curiosity, I would love to hear your take on the whole Charlie Hebdo incident. Where do you stand on my freedom of expression?

Please share, Justin.


February 15, 2015 1:07 am


Where myself or anyone else stands on free speech or Charlie Hebdo is inconsequent to the fact that people don’t come to TSM to read tasteless comments with anti-semitic undertones like yours.

February 15, 2015 1:24 am

Don’t think Hirsch is Jewish. But nice try Adolph.

Rob in Aurora
Rob in Aurora
February 15, 2015 8:40 am

Another piece and not one thing mentioned about TSN or TSN radio. I may stop reading…I can only surmise that Sportsnet is paying you guys something to keep them out. How about a little balance and objectivity? I started listening to TSN a while ago and now the Fan sounds like Seneca College radio in comparison. And yes Mike Richards is often bad – and Naylor is a dweeb and still the Fan still is the weak sister.

My thoughts on dean Blundell: I hope he fails miserably – and hitching his wagon to Sportsnet will probably ensure that. And I can’t think of anyone suitable to partner with him. I see this working as well as Andrew Krystal. I can’t wait to not listen.

HNIC remains unwatchable. So much is wrong with that show that tinkering isn’t going to be enough. Heads will roll. This wasn’t about buying market share even if they lose money – This was an attempt to buy their way to credibility and an attempt to corner the market at the same time – it didn’t & won’t work.

February 15, 2015 8:43 am

The Internet:

Where everyone who doesn’t write exactly in line with your views or beliefs must be paid to do so.

February 15, 2015 9:09 am

Loving TSN radio over 590 is an opinion that you’re allowed to have, but when 590 ratings are double triple or even more than 1050, accusing “paid off media blog” is a pretty empty statement

February 15, 2015 10:23 am


Caught in a bind, huh?

Free speech means I can state exactly what I did. It isn’t antisemitism in the least. There was nothing in my statement that can be classified as being against people who are Jewish or Arab.

As for the individual who called me Adolph… You should have more of an issue with him. He thinks questioning someone’s motives is akin to mass murders.

That being said, I’d still love to hear your thoughts on the Charlie Hebdo incident. I’m guessing it’s one of those cases wherein you feel freedom of speech only extends to those with power. Ironically enough, the Hebdo press dismissed an employee for printing words viewed by those with power as antisemitic. Otherwise, their the bearers of the free speech flag.

February 15, 2015 11:32 am

So, … That leafs trade…

Steve Jones
Steve Jones
February 15, 2015 12:07 pm

Seems like a fair deal for both sides. Assuming Nashville isn’t sitting on a second first and they finish first it’s like a high 2nd rounder. No one is going to overpay for Leaf players given their need to dump contracts. And Ollie will fit in nicely with the rest of the invisible crew. I put the over/under on him being noticed on the ice at “not”.

Not that Chris
Not that Chris
February 15, 2015 12:50 pm

“TSN1050 continues along with their crappy signal when will they ever improve it??”

@HUNTER: TSNR can’t improve their signal if they stay where they are on the AM dial. It just is what it is. In order to ‘improve’ it; they’ll need to do what the Fan did years, and years ago – move to a better slot on the AM dial, which has better signal strength. That or just move it to a Bell owned FM station. Until they do one of the two things, come dusk it will always be static anywhere outside of GTA.

As for the Leafs trade, good. Blow that shit up and stockpile as many draft picks as possible. At least they’re getting something for impending UFA’s instead of letting them walk for nothing.

Not that Chris
Not that Chris
February 15, 2015 3:18 pm

As he deserves to be. You don’t speculate that someone committed suicide, without having FACTS. Mirtle is a shitbag of the highest order.

February 15, 2015 5:41 pm

Great roundtable this week. Love Blair on the show and no Shannon.

February 15, 2015 6:49 pm

“And starring as Judge Redfield T. Baum – Sam Elliot!”

I miss the Coyotes saga.

February 15, 2015 8:24 pm


Steve Clark
February 16, 2015 12:14 am

As always very good stuff Mike.

I said in another comment one of the most difficult things to be was a sports radio host. The trend has moved towards newspaper reporters and away from radio personalities. Someone told me once that if you wanted to make in sports media, you needed to a multi-platform personality. You needed to be able to write it, talk about it on both radio and TV. Newspaper guys bring in a built in base of followers and name recognition. If they are half-way articulate they can jump the queue when it comes to radio hosting. Damien Cox, Jeff Blair, Steve Simmons, Bruce Arthur, Stephen Brunt- all guys who made their living as newspaper reporters and with great levels of success, they have moved over to radio and TV. I happened to like reading/listening/watching those guys, so I won’t comment on whether I like them. I measure success in radio/TV by your timeslot and exposure and love them or not, they are tops in the field right now.

Where does that leave guys with more of a pure radio background? Guys like Ben Ennis, George Rusic, JEff Sammut and Roger Lajoie are all evening/weekend/fill in guys without a built in consistent audience or timeslot for the most part. Its a tough way to build that name reogntion. A guy like Ennis is your classic “tweener” – good on TV, good on the radio, but without the cache to excel at either right now.

Then you add in a free agent that Dean Blundell and that just pushes the guys are talked about farther back or in their timeslots. Orginally the Fan was advertising for both a Brady Co-Host and a Morning Sports Anchor. Now? No need for a co-host if Walker moves with Brady to 1-4. Could Ennis/Sammut/Rusic etc fit in as the morning sportscaster? I tend to agree with MiB that Ennis is the best fit, but you really have to wait until the co-host spot with Blundell, likely hand picked by Blundelle is publicized.

Don’t know much about Ryan Pinder, but he was the former voice of the AHL Abbotsford Heat. If you are an AHL play by play guy, you have a tremendous amount of on-air responsibliity. More often than not you are a one man show, doing pre-post-interviews along with play by play. The amount of on-air work Matt Holmes (Hamilton Bulldogs voice_ and Todd Crocker (TOronton Marlies voice) do is staggering. PInder, I’m sure can carry the load if he is indeed the choice.

The strange part of this is that Fan is changing something that did not need changing. Brady and Walker were doing well in their timeslot, had very good chemistry (ironically their friendly back and forth Twitter battles were better than some of their on-air stuff). Nothing needed to really be changed except the 1-4 slot for Tim and Sid who likely will be a hybrid PTI/OTR/Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole. It’s not McCown they’re up against, its TSN/Bell. Despite McCown’s on-air grumbling, expect a decent amount of cross over programming in the Fall, as McCown’s schedule is pretty inconsistent in the summer. I really felt it could have been an opportunity for Rogers to use one of the many hosts/analysts they hired to be a fit in the 1-4 slot with one of the Fan incumbents as the main host (Again, I’d think Sammut likely deserves the bump, or Ennis- Haven’t listened enough to Rusic to opine and I think Roger Lajoie is their jack of all trades guy)

Sorry for the length. I’m a sports media nerd, and freelance in the business, so I’m naturally curious.

February 16, 2015 2:17 am

So, this weekend I found myself in western Canada and at one point clicked onto HNIC in my hotel room. I was very tired and, frankly, with very little sleep I may have been hallucinating – but did I see George Strompolopolous with a hipster beard actually fist-pump Elliote Friedman?

Had to have been some kind of trip, right?

February 16, 2015 4:43 am


You write: “However I found it odd wherein Elliott Friedman just decides to help out Hirsch for no real reason…”

Uh, it is written in the story that he reached out because he knew Hirsch a little and though his personality might be a good fit for TV. It’s right there in the story.

It frightens me: you are an educator and can’t figure that out. But I guess the standards are low at Klan U.

February 16, 2015 6:46 am

Poor Rob Wong never gets any love when the B team is mentioned.

February 16, 2015 7:30 am

Real classy billyjoejimbob…

You do realize that media is one of the most challenging industries to get your foot in the door, right?

Most people have difficulty trying to get close relatives into the industry. Knowing someone a little makes it even more difficult to understand. Nevertheless, I’m guessing once you complete grade two, for the third time I may add, you may come across a concept known as synthesizing while reading.

Adolph huh? Wow, way to minimize the killing of millions. Interesting how you can associate apparent cultural nepotism with the Klan and Adolph. Guess you missed that lesson on relative comparisons in grade one.

Impressive billyjoejimbob!

Steve in Waterloo
Steve in Waterloo
February 16, 2015 9:23 am

Ever notice how many time Bob interrupts his guest? Or, tries to finish their sentence?

I started keeping track this week.
I got to a point of saying, Bob, what’s the point of the guest, you are just trying to speak for them, or prove you know more?

Keep track this week – you will be surprised

February 16, 2015 12:56 pm

Steve, you could start a Bob drinking game with his: “I get that!”

February 16, 2015 1:13 pm

That PPP article on Rogers and TV coverage made me laugh. It is clear most people are just ripping on Rogers because it is Rogers. Have people forgotten how much HNIC had deteriorated over the past decade? CBC had been using a panel of Weekes, Stock, Healy and Friedman the last few years. Is that much better than who Rogers uses now? Not really. How bout when CBC had Stock in the bubble doing all the highlights for a few seasons? Real great TV watching him screw up every week. And then there’s the sacred Hotstove which featured great personalities like Eric Francis, Mike Milbury, Healy and Stock the last few years. Outside of Friedman, that hasn’t been a relevant segment since Lebrun left for TSN years ago.

People have great memories of HNIC and they should but those days were long gone before Rogers came along. There’s been complaining about CBC’s talent choices and especially the hotstove segment for years. Rogers might’ve finally stuck a fork in HNIC but CBC certainly accelerated its decline. Just seems like people have short memories and just want to find another excuse to criticize Rogers.

February 16, 2015 2:03 pm

Agreed Tanner.

Years and years ago I tired of Ron and Don and basically watched HNIC except for the first intermission. I loved the hot stove segment and it was must watch viewing for me.

But a few years back Ron ceased being a moderator/host and used it as a weird soapbox of sorts for his own personal diatribes. This didn’t interest me and adding PJ Stock, and Kevin Weekes just added two bodies who had nothing of use to say. Kelly Hrudey is pretty meh. Jeff Marek with his idesk spots were pretty lame. I didn’t mind Elliotte Friedman and I can stomach Glen Healy in small bits.

But I basically stopped watching any pre-game or intermissions on HNIC quite a while ago. I’ve given the Rogers version bit of a trial, and it doesn’t knock my socks off. But for me it’s better than the last few years of CBC’s HNIC by a wide margin.

The only compelling intermission is on TSN with James Duthie.

Not that Chris
Not that Chris
February 16, 2015 3:06 pm
February 17, 2015 4:34 am


Are you a rogers employee?

February 17, 2015 8:59 am

@ Neil I’m not a Rogers employee and dont know why you’d think so. My point is HNIC has been declining since they let Cuthbert go. When HNIC moved to a permanent studio with a panel set up that featured Milbury and Stock, HNIC became just another talking head show. That’s not what made HNIC great. They had a simple knowledgable broadcast. It wasn’t broken. When CBC started to modernize it, they started to kill it because they never had the right talent. That’s when the glory days ended. When you start mimicking other broadcasts, you lose what made it so classic. That was CBC’s biggest mistake. The quality of the broadcast has been on a steady decline. Sure, they had cool montages but how many people were tuning in to hear PJ Stock and Healy’s opinions. Not many. I get the need to modernize but to follow Don Cherry’s lead and add a bunch of loud mouths was not smart. That’s on CBC, not Rogers.

Rogers is somewhat following that. They think louder, flashier and bigger makes a better broadcast. It doesn’t and CBC proved that for decades until they went off the rails. They need to get back to basics. The basics are what made HNIC an icon. In Rogers defense, Doug Maclean doesn’t show up on HNIC. Cox and Stock make short cameos. They aren’t front and center on Saturday nights but people complain like they are. That’s just complaining to complain.

Steve Clark
February 17, 2015 10:45 am

Tanner makes an interesting point when it comes to our consumption of hockey broadcasts in Canada. We tend to reject anything new right off the bat, because it is new. Once it gets “broken in”, it is then acceptable:

1. Consider that when people wanted Bob Cole gone off the Stanley Cup broadcasts in favour of Jim Hughson. After that happened people started complaining about Hughson and his “Vancouver bias” etc

2. Cole himself went from the guy who everyone disliked because of his “Toronto bias” and someone who missed names to (quite rightfully so) a national treasure/icon

3. Ron MacLean went from a guy to everyone rallying around when he had his last salary dispute to a pompous guy who tended to promote non-hockey related bias. Now he again falls into the category of host who everyone wants back, which leads to……

4. Strombo: not well received right now. Will people come around and accept him? I think so

To me right Rogers is a work in progress and in year one of a 12 year agreement. Once they hit their stride and continue to put people where they can suceed best,their coverage will continue an upward trend.

February 17, 2015 1:23 pm

@ Mike in Boston

You’ve hit the real issue. Sure, Rogers coverage isn’t great but that’s not why ratings are disappointing. If that’s the sole reason, why are Wednesday’s up so much with such inferior broadcasters? Their mistake was believing that there were people in Ontario who were not watching on Saturday nights because they couldn’t watch the Jets, Habs or any team besides the Leafs. They thought there was an audience out there who wanted that flexibility but It doesn’t exist in large numbers. And in that quest to grow 7 PM, they killed the late game. Their lead in is gone. Instead of everyone on CBC, the audience is split five ways and they aren’t flipping the channel. I’m not sure how you remedy that but I doubt putting Ron back in the host chair would make any difference. Unless a west coast team becomes a force or they do more simulcasts, this might be the new reality for the late game just due to the number of channels airing games at 7.

As far as Hometown Hockey goes, it’s been a disaster even with Ron being the focus. It hasn’t been helped due to some absolutely dreadful match ups. Only the hardcore fans are interested. Again, they misjudged the demand for more hockey. To me, blaming Strombo and the others is the easy way out. There’s more to it. If you really sit there and study it, Rogers goofed on many levels.

Don River
Don River
February 17, 2015 2:52 pm

What I remember about Alison Gordon is when the Jays “randomly” named her their 50 (?) millionth fan in the 90s. Going along with that farce revealed her to be a total Jays shill.

Regarding Claude Brochu’s quote posted above (“With the exception of Toronto, all Canadian cities boasting professional sports teams risk losing them one day. Many teams are already dangling by threads.”), if that actually happened, multiply how much the rest of Canada already resents Toronto by an infinite factor.

As for McCown, he really is mailing it in these days. Sooner or later, I know I’m going to hear about UNLV/Jerry Tarkanian, how 2/3 of Las Vegans are either working or sleeping at any given time, the story where Bob was shown a prototype disk in the early 80s when he worked at Sportsline, the story about Leo Cahill holding an Argos coaches meeting during the first Blue Jays game, and the always annoying “Alphonse and Gaston, I don’t want it, you take it”. I’m sure I’ve missed quite a few others.

Bob also revealed how out of it he was when he couldn’t believe that any Michigan fan wanted Ohio State to win during the college football playoffs. He clearly doesn’t understand the huge animosity that now exists between the major conferences, especially the Big Ten and the SEC.

And when Bob tells someone “I get that”, what he’s really saying is that he totally disagrees with that, or he doesn’t even understand that.

Mike S
Mike S
February 18, 2015 12:43 am

If they end up putting Ben Ennis full time with Blundell it would work out great for me because I have never been a fan of Ennis and I already have no intention of listening to Blundell’s show

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x