Back In The Saddle: Dominoes About To Fall In NHL Broadcast Booth?

Pardon the interruption; it’s been a while.

Yes, I’m fine, thank you for asking. More on the matter when appropriate, but a personal family issue has occupied my focus since early December. While not resolved, it’s time to move forward in life, given the situation’s uncertainty.

Having said that…

Here’s what I’ve been hearing:

Could this be a transformative summer in NHL broadcast booths?

Several insiders suggest we’re likely to witness significant changes, potentially setting off a chain reaction across the league:

John Forslund might leave the Seattle Kraken after three seasons for the Boston Bruins.

This move would be substantial for the Bruins. Jack Edwards has held the position since 2007, and Forslund is considered top-tier in the field. His departure would leave a significant void in Seattle, prompting speculation about his potential replacement. It seems unlikely the Kraken would opt for a novice, so the search may extend league-wide, initiating the so-called domino effect.

There’s heightened concern, once again a prevalent topic in media circles, should the Toronto Maple Leafs or Edmonton Oilers exit the NHL playoffs early this year. The NHL TV deal’s rising costs and stagnant TV ad revenue present a challenging mix in an environment where layoffs and cuts seem the only solution. A major issue, I’m told, is the apparent indifference in Canada, despite the consensus that the USA’s studio shows currently outshine those in Canada.

What does this mean with the NHL TV deal rounding third in Canada? That is pure conjecture. Talking heads will lead you to believe that Bell has no interest in the deal but that Rogers won’t spend nearly what they did for the exclusive package again. I will say this, do not bet against Bettman. Everyone talking about the USA streamers, remember one thing, under 40 million people living in Canada. Not a big number.

John Candy and Eugene Levy’s movie featured the memorable Schmenge Brothers. In a scene highlighting their disastrous concert, the problem of having more people on stage than in the audience is humorously pointed out—a scenario eerily reminiscent of this year’s NHL trade deadline day. With both networks’ extensive, yet unwatched, coverage, it’s clear this once must-see event has seen better days.

I’ve consumed a fair amount of Blue Jays talk this week. Despite not watching a minute of spring training, the consensus among interviews suggests the Jays are projected around 83 wins, ranking them third or fourth in their division. This was somewhat reassuring; I feared my diminishing interest was a personal quirk. It appears even the experts share a tepid enthusiasm for the Jays. How are you feeling about the upcoming campaign.

Is there a better in-game hockey analyst than Mike Johnson, aside from Ray Ferraro?

The departure of Kyle Dubas from the Maple Leafs spurred predictions of a staff exodus. Yet, aside from Jason Spezza, such departures have been minimal, if at all noticeable. I for one have not heard of a single departure other than Spezza. Have you?

In Toronto, I was asked who should replace Joe Bowen if he retires. I’m uncertain, but it seems whoever it is might only be a placeholder for the next in line. Never wise to be the person replacing the legend.

Removing Chris Cuthbert from Rogers and Gord Miller from TSN raises a question: What’s the state of emerging NHL calibre broadcasting talent in Canada? Do we have confidence in their capabilities? There are certainly gaps to be filled…

A massive hat tip to Jeff Rimer on his retirement in Columbus. His exceptional career in broadcasting made a significant impact on me, especially during my law school days in Miami, listening to Neil Rodgers, the ultimate Maple Leaf fan. Congratulations on an outstanding career, Jeff.

Jonah

Born and raised in Toronto, Jonah Sigel is currently based in Seattle, WA. An avid sports fan, Jonah took to writing about the sports media world back in 2004 with two young kids at home, a new job and a return to Toronto. The interest grew and grew to include the former website Torontosportsmedia.com, the twitter handle @yyzsportsmedia, the PressRow podcast and now the all new yyzsportsmedia.com

2 Replies to “Back In The Saddle: Dominoes About To Fall In NHL Broadcast Booth?”

  1. Hey Jonah, I never really realized before now that you’re based in Seattle. As a Toronto to Seattle transplant myself, any chance of doing a little more coverage of sea sports media? I’m fascinated to learn about Forslund and the rotating cast of colour guys here, I’m curious how the root sports thing is going to affect the Mariners and Kraken in a couple years, and I’m curious what’s going on with the Sounders people.

    Love the blog, keep it up!

    1. Thanks Max. The problem for me, honestly is the market here is pretty dull IMHO. There is not much going on. I do hear that Root Sports is in trouble. I will say this. If I hear of things that are of interest I will post them here.

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