The NHL returns from the All-Star Break today. And we get the first of 2 Montréal Canadiens games on NBCSN on Thursday when the Habs will be at Madison Square Garden.
In this abbreviated session, the only other Canadian team national telecast will be Rogers Sportsnet on Wednesday as the Toronto Maple Leafs will be across the Hudson River in New Jersey.
NBCSN has John Forslund and Pierre McGuire on the call for the Habs game Thursday. Both TSN crews are in action Thursday night, so we don't get a good play-by-play announcer for the game.
To give you an idea on what NBCSN thinks about the Canadiens, the network ran a promo yesterday for its upcoming games. All of them were mentioned except the Montréal game. This pettiness is ridiculous, but not shocking. Often NBCSN refuses to promote games involving Canadian teams.
Montréal @ NY Rangers, 7p
Wednesday Winnipeg @ Pittsburgh, 3p (1-hour)
Anaheim @ Vancouver, 4p (1-hour)
Thursday Toronto @ New Jersey, 3p (1-hour)
Toronto @ New Jersey, 7p
We said a lot about the Canadiens in the Winter Classic and the NHL dropping Winnipeg and the 2015 Heritage Classic on Sunday. Happy for Montréal, but really unhappy with what the league did to Winnipeg. If you missed our take, click here.
An announcement that didn't get as much attention was the return of the World Cup in September 2016 at Air Canada Centre. This isn't something in my memory banks, plus the format won't be individual countries in some cases and there is the idea of a Canada B team involving younger players. If any of that makes sense to you or if you are excited about the World Cup, please explain in the comments section.
Normally, an additional NBCSN game involving a Canadian team is cause for champagne, well, maybe a Canadian beer. We aren't opening the bottle yet.
The NHL schedule has a switch for March 14: The Toronto-Vancouver game is dropped by the NHL Network and that channel is picking up the Habs-Islanders game. And that game is at 7 pm, not 7:30 pm. No mention of NBCSN.
If the NHL Network keeps the game, we lose yet another Vancouver telecast (that is getting ridiculous) but we keep the Canadian feed. We like NBCSN telecasts but if the channel takes Saturday night games, it can keep the gifts. NBCSN can't compete even with the Rogers productions.
There is one exception that we would absolutely welcome: have NHL Network carry the Toronto-Vancouver game AND have NBCSN show the Montréal game, bringing in Gord Miller or Chris Cuthbert.
Coach's Corner has an opening bumper, a commercial, and another bumper. The NHL Network has decided not to carry the opening bumper or to try and cover the commercial (Budweiser in Canada). But the January 17 edition missed about 20 seconds of Don Cherry talking.
That is beyond sloppy. The channel runs the same boring commercials; they can be spared to cover the actual programming.
Rogers had to deal with 4 early games and 5 overall games. When the Riverview, NB youth hockey team ran through the night's games, they left out the Edmonton game.
We also didn't get a Hometown Hockey preview on the Saturday show, but that could have been due to having more games to cover. CBC had occasional nights where there were this many games and handled them a lot smoother than Rogers.
Speaking of Hometown Hockey, we got a lovely look at Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. I have not been to most of the places on the Hometown Hockey schedule, but I did have a very nice time in Charlottetown and the province. The music blended in so well with the spirit of the Maritimes.
Scott Oake had a nice story about St. Louis winger Ryan Reaves, growing up in Winnipeg as the best friend of Scott's son Darcy. Oake noted that his illusionist son was the best man at Ryan's wedding.
He noted that Reaves' success wasn't a surprise given that his father, Willard Reaves, was one of the greatest running backs in the CFL, but "where Darcy gets his talent as a performer remains a great mystery."
The elder Reaves played for Winnipeg from 1983-1987. He rushed for over 1,000 yards and led the CFL in rushing in 1984-1985 and 1987. In 1984, Reaves had 1,733 yards and 18 touchdowns as well as a CFL record with 2,140 yards from scrimmage.
He also played in the NFL with brief appearances with Miami (2 games) and Washington (1 game) in 1989.
Jim Hughson got through a couple promos for "Schitt's Creek" in the 1st period without giggles or smirks. Glenn Healy was in Montréal on Sportsnet so he couldn't weigh in on the promos.
The return of "Mr. D" — nominated for 10 Canadian Screen Awards — got a couple promos in the 2nd period.
"The Book of Negroes" received the two promos in the 3rd period on the CBC.
The NHL Network used the Rogers Sportsnet Pacific feed for the Vancouver-Philadelphia rebroadcast. Joey Kenward filled in for John Shorthouse on the broadcast. Shorthouse had complications from a recent surgery.
This was the game originally on the schedule. The game went well for Canucks fans so that made not carrying the full game that much more frustrating.