The cost to get rights to broadcast the NHL in Canada may wind up being too costly for Canada’s national broadcaster.
CBC, the home of Hockey Night in Canada, has an exclusive window to negotiate a new deal to carry the NHL that ends in August. As Steve Ladurantaye of The Globe And Mail shares, time is running out, money is tight, and TSN is eager to pounce on the rights.
But the league must step lightly – both broadcasters have reasons to let the NHL pass them by. “This isn’t a slam dunk for the NHL by any means,” one broadcast executive said. “It’s not as straightforward as someone might think.”
CBC has had Saturday night hockey since 1953 and the current deal expires after this season. Ladurantaye says CBC could lose as much as $175 million if they lose out on the TV package. Hockey broadcasts are also a big money winner for CBC to help them produce other shows.
It would be hard to imagine not seeing Hockey Night in Canada on CBC anymore. If the cost is too high, Don Cherry and his wild suits and opinions might wind up elsewhere.
Calgary’s Sven Baertschi knows he’s got high expectations to become their next big-time scorer. He also knows now there’s a lot of hard work that goes into it.
John Kreiser at NHL.com hears it from the young Swiss forward about what he learned from a rocky first season in the NHL and how he hopes to make the leap this year.
“I learned that you’ve got to earn it,” he said. “They’re not going to give you everything, or anything, just because you’re a first-round pick. No one cares. They’re too busy. There’s too much at stake.
“But I know I belong here. I think it helps that I finished the season strong.”
Last season saw Baertschi play in just 20 games for the Flames scoring just three goals with seven assists. He found himself in the AHL with Abbotsford for a spell after being sent down. There he had 10 goals and 26 points in 32 games.
If he can “earn it” and reach his potential the Flames will have that offensive threat to replace Jarome Iginla.
A poll taken last winter in Canada determined that fewer kids are getting into hockey. While Canada prides itself on the sport, the drop in participation is taking many by surprise including Mark Messier.
Messier tells The Canadian Press he’s stunned by the results and wants to help improve things as best as he can.
“I think it comes to a shock to everybody,” he said. “We like to consider ourselves at the top of the pyramid in hockey around the world and if we’re going to stay there . . . we have to continue to develop our talent pool.”
Messier wants to do this by introducing more kids to the sport and help keep them interested it as they grow up. Of course, hockey is one of the more expensive sports to play as equipment isn’t cheap so more kids are getting into sports like basketball and soccer.
This development probably doesn’t do much to calm Canadian nerves when it comes to the World Junior Championships either as Canada hasn’t won gold there since 2009.
Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek have been Sabres their entire career and both players are unrestricted free agents at the end of the season. Both players have been stars in Buffalo but now head into this season with a lot of uncertainty.
Buffalo appears ready to move ahead in goal with Jhonas Enroth and Matt Hackett (acquired in the Jason Pominville trade). With Miller on the brink of free agency, some thought GM Darcy Regier would deal Miller to a team in need of a starting goalie.
Instead, Regier played it close to the vest and held onto Miller, making the situation in goal a bit crowded.
Enroth showed during World Championships in May he may be ready to see more starts and even challenge for the starting job. With Hackett waiting in the wings, it would seem Miller’s future in Buffalo isn’t long. That doesn’t play out well to make a solid trade.
Vanek, meanwhile, is a player the Sabres love. If he had a long-term deal he’d be a candidate to be the new team captain. Instead, his current deal and fat salary cap hit made him nearly impossible to deal this summer and puts him in a position he’s not exactly comfortable with.
Regier and Pegula might want to extend Vanek, but he’d likely be the top free agent available this summer and could fetch a huge return at the trade deadline. For a team that’s hoping to win their first Stanley Cup, this isn’t the kind of talk that comes off as encouraging.
It might take the Sabres pushing for a playoff spot in the new Atlantic Division to keep Vanek interested in staying but that could also hurt their ability to deal Miller during the season if need be. Being between a rock and a hard place like this isn’t enviable to anyone, least of all Darcy Regier.
Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The Buffalo Sabres.
Things haven’t exactly gone how owner Terry Pegula hoped they would when he bought the team. Instead of challenging for and winning a Stanley Cup, the team has missed the playoffs the last two seasons.
Now the team enters a season where they’re still not sure how long they’ll have Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek to kick around. Both guys are unrestricted free agents after the season and will have trade rumors floating around them all year. Who said Buffalo was a boring place?
Instead of diving head-first into the free agent pile, GM Darcy Regier instead bought out forward Nathan Gerbe (who signed with Carolina afterward). One deal Regier did make was with New Jersey to bring back Henrik Tallinder to try and recapture the chemistry he had with Tyler Myers. Considering how many more years and dollars they’ve got committed to him, it’s not the worst move to make.
In the NHL Draft they went with big Finnish defender Rasmus Ristolainen who may end up challenging for a job in the NHL right away. Buffalo’s blue line is a crowded house, but they love Ristolainen’s style.
All eyes will stay on Miller and Vanek, however. Buffalo better hope they show something in the new Atlantic Division to make both guys think about staying in Western New York.
Introducing: PHT’s ‘Team of the Day’ summer series