Heatley home opener and Hockeyville highlight Sens 20th year in NHL
By Terrance Gavan – THW Sens Correspondent
The second coming of the Winnipeg Jets.
More to this Phoenix from ash pile flip than meets the eye.
High def, big screen television eye that is.
And the “eyes” apparently have it this season, with both Canadian television networks tooting their vuvezelas over an expanded Canadian dynamic in the National Hockey League.
Sens fans should be pretty pumped about network coverage this season.
Sens.com reports that: The venerable Hockey Night in Canada (HNIC) has 19 appearances in store for Senators fans, starting with the Oct. 8 match up in Toronto against the Maple Leafs on the first Saturday of theNHLschedule.
All but one of Ottawa games on HNIC are Saturday affairs, with four of them being matinee telecasts. The highlight is the Edmonton Oilers’ visit to Scotiabank Place on Feb. 11 as part of Hockey Day in Canada, which will include four games and seven Canadian teams with the return of the Winnipeg Jets to the league.
Today’s news included the unveiling of game coverage plans for CBC’s HNIC, TSN and TSN2, along with NBC, Versus and the NHL Network in the U.S.French-language broadcaster RDS hasn’t revealed any details beyond the 82 Montreal Canadiens telecasts it will offer in the season ahead which, of course, includes all six matches against the Senators.
Also part of the CBC schedule is the pre-season Kraft Hockeyville match up between the Senators and Jets at Mile One Centre in St. John’s. That’s a 4 p.m. ET puck drop on Monday, Sept. 26.
Another CBC schedule highlight: back-to-back telecasts on March 16 and 17, when the Montreal Canadiens and the Leafs appear on consecutive nights at Scotiabank Place for the first time.
The Habs game is on a Friday night, the lone Sens CBC game not on a Saturday.
TSN, meanwhile, has 10 Senators dates on its 151-game schedule announced today, including 74 broadcast windows on TSN2. Of the 77 games on TSN, all but four will include at least one Canadian team.
The TSN schedule is comprehensive and should satisfy the broad longings of its Canadian viewers.
“Highlights of the NHL ON TSN schedule include four all-Canadian match-ups featuring Winnipeg at Toronto (October 19),Vancouver at Calgary(November 1),Winnipeg at Montreal (January 4) and Ottawa at Montreal (March 14),” says TSN.com.
For Sens fans, our lollapalooza bonanza will surely hinge on Dany Heatley’s return with the Minnesota Wild at Scotiabank Place for Ottawa’s 2011-12 home-opener on Oct. 11.
And that game will also form the launch pad for 20th anniversary celebrations for the Senators organization. Some true nostalgia for your agent because when the Sens nailed down the franchise I was the Managing Editor and Sports Editor of the Kanata Kourier and Kanata Standard weeklies.
Those were some pressure-packed and interesting negotiations, from the downsizing of what was then to be the Corel Centre, to some of the volatile land squabbles that had tree hugging environmentalists pitted against Sens brass. We digress.
Lest we forget?
All-Star Week in Ottawa figures to be an extraordinary bash of brash. The 2012 NHLAll-Star Weekend activity is slated for Jan. 28-29, and it’s a first for Ottawa’s Scotiabank Place.
Over the last five seasons the league and both networks – CBC owns the broadcast rights – have been refining the “event.” It’s a case of selling more sizzle and less T-Bone. The game is a “friendly” so this move to bringing more Disney and less Punch Imlach to the spectacle is an experiment with some merit.
Following a paradigm set up by the National Basketball Association (NBA) may irk the traditionalists, but Gary Bettman and the NHL brass are not trying to appeal to old farts in duct-taped Lazee-Boys – they already own them.
They’re looking to set up the new iPhone generation of hockey fans – from 6 to 36 – who are drawn more by the peripherals than the ersatz juice of a 12-9 East-V-West snooze fest. Raise your hands if you enjoyed that skills competition last year. More than the game?
The feedback I received here in hockey mad Haliburton – I did a small piece on it – was overwhelmingly positive, especially the skills portion.
Of course we had our young prodigy Matt Duchene – The Haliburton Hurricane – participating in his first all-star game and that only added to the buzz at McKecks Blue Line during last year’s All-Star event.
The NHL All-Star weekend isn’t perfect television. It carries with it the de rigueur flaws that inhabit any glitzy sports production. But it sure caters to a funky and wide-ranging demographic. And that’s not such a bad thing.
Sens fans? You’ll be able to judge the event up close and personal for the first time in history. Flop the date (January 28-29, 2012) down in your phone, PDA or fridge-side calendar.
TSNis also rolling out a pile of games on the Deuce (TSN2). Those games are not stitched into a set schedule says TSN, but will have some scheduling leeway with the hope that they’ll be able to pick up on the seasonal juice. That’s a smart play because it allows them to contour their schedule to in-season story lines.
Winnipeg is back, and that new car smell, right or wrong, earns them some puck pop on both networks.
CBC’s HNIC have latched onto the Winnipeg Jets like Lassie on a porterhouse.
The Jets are an important add. Their insertion and the expected honeydew drip in television ratings add an important lucky seven Canadian dynamic to the pastiche of the prime time network paradigm. Hockey Night in Canada (HNIC) is doing a full-Monty Jets revival.
And we can’t ignore the old Madison Avenue pitch: “Location, location, location!” New time zone for a Canadian team is a nice little addition. The Central Time Zone adds some interesting possibilities vis-à-vis double header choices for both networks. A key Canadian club in the central time zone will open up network scheduling choices.
Add to that the retro appeal of a Canadian club’s return to its roots? Nostalgia. It’s all cerebral succor for those ticked Winnipeg fans who lost out on that 17 minute dervish and season ticket sellout.
I have two friends in Winnipeg, who are plus 50 on the waiting list for season tickets and they’re not happy. So Winnipeg’s comprehensive network scheduling is a nice fit and it could result in a small market ratings bonanza.
This is important. We are moving to an elite eight (Quebec Aces, err, Islanders by next year?) team Canada contingent. And possibly – with a Maritime (Halifax?) and a GTA team by 2018 – a nirvana juke and jive with a ten-team “Oh Canada! Division.”
Two Canadian divisions, five east and five west? (So okay Hamilton or Mississauga might have to go west young man, but it kinda’ works for the CFL? Oops. never mind. Wrong metaphor.)
Spitballin’ here peeps. Just spitballin’ for Schlitz and Giggles.
Locker Room Chatter:
- Nice little piece on Captain Alfie by The Ottawa Citizen’s Martin Cleary. Daniel Alfredsson is apparently looking forward to a healthy season.
- Ottawa’s upcoming season. The Young Guns, New coach and ahem! The Playoffs? From NHL.com.
Here’s the complete slate of Senators games on CBC and TSN:
Monday, Sept. 26 — vs. Winnipeg, at St. John’s, 4 p.m. (pre-season)
Saturday, Oct. 8 — at Toronto, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 15 — at Washington, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 22 — vs. Columbus, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 29 — at N.Y. Rangers, 3 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 5 — vs. Buffalo, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 12 — at Toronto, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 3 — at Washington, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 10 — vs. Vancouver, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 31 — at Buffalo, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 14 — at Montreal, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 4 — vs. Toronto, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 11 — vs. Edmonton (Hockey Day in Canada), 2 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 25 — vs. Boston, 7 p.m.
Saturday, March 10 — vs. Buffalo, 7 p.m.
Friday, March 16 — vs. Montreal, 7 p.m.
Saturday, March 17 — vs. Toronto, 7 p.m.
Saturday, March 24 — vs. Pittsburgh, 7 p.m.
Saturday, March 31 — at Philadelphia, 1 p.m.
Saturday, April 7 — at New Jersey, 3 p.m.
Tuesday, Oct. 11 — vs. Minnesota (home opener), 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, Oct. 25 — at Carolina, 7 p.m.
Tuesday, Nov. 1 — at Boston, 7 p.m.
Wednesday, Nov. 9 — vs. NY Rangers, 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Dec. 7 — vs. Washington, 7 p.m.
Wednesday, Dec. 14 — vs. Boston, 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, Dec. 20 — vs. Buffalo, 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Feb. 22 — vs. Washington, 7 p.m.
Friday, March 2 — vs. Chicago, 7 p.m.
Wednesday, March 14 — at Montreal, 7:30 p.m.