NHL Network will carry ‘That’s Hockey’ during this year’s research and development camp

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For the second straight summer, new rules and budding prospects will be tested at the 2011 NHL Research, Development and Orientation Camp. That intriguing – and maybe even fruitful – process is scheduled this week, on Wednesday and Thursday. You can be sure that Pro Hockey Talk will be on top of the notable developments just like last year, whether the testing involves small tweaks or out-there concepts that have very little chance of ever seeing the light of day.

In fact, we’ve already covered some of the bases. Check out these articles for a quick refresher on the August 17 and 18th camps.

So, again, PHT should be all over the R & D camp. That being said, if you want even more coverage, the US version of the NHL Network will air TSN’s “That’s Hockey” on Wednesday and Thursday. Gino Reda hosts the show, which features a panel of experts, analysis and some interviews. The hourly program will air at 7 pm ET on Wednesday and Thursday.

Report: Rogers in talks to buy Toronto Maple Leafs as part of $1.3B mega deal

The Toronto Sun reports that media company Rogers is looking into possibly buying the Toronto Maple Leafs along with their minor league team the Toronto Marlies as a part of an enormous deal said to total $1.3 billion. Along with the Leafs and the Marlies, the sale would reportedly include the Toronto Raptors as well as the Toronto FC soccer club.

Rogers already own the Toronto Blue Jays, so such a deal would seem to give them a near monopoly on sports teams in that specific region. In fact, those Toronto Sun reporters (Robert Cribb and Tony VanAlphen) wrote that the move might be seen as a preemptive one to keep rival network TSN from launching a regional network for the Toronto sports teams.

While a lot of this talk focuses on big money matters for two huge media companies, the two Sun reporters interviewed a source who said that the deal could also be good for Leafs fans, noting that Rogers would be less “bottom-line oriented.” At least from the standpoint that winning teams draw higher ratings than losers do.

Cribb and VanAlphen point out that this deal would make Rogers one of the biggest sports networks in North America.

For Rogers, the programming enticements of a deal are irresistible.

Rogers, which already has epublishing, cable, radio and wireless interests and owns the Blue Jays baseball club, could merge Leafs and Raptors TV, add the Toronto FC games and effectively start the most powerful regional sports network in the country. It would be among the biggest in North America.

“It’s a home run,” said one source. “Content is king. The only way you can draw new subscribers is through compelling, unique and exclusive programming.”

When pressed, Maple Leafs front office people more or less gave the reports a “no comment” response. While that doesn’t confirm the reports, it certainly won’t do much to stop the rumors from getting hot and heavy.

That being said, do note that this is far from confirmed at this time. We’ll keep you updated as more information becomes available.