Flames fight for playoff positions, fans fight to watch their team

**Note: Also appears on the Calgary Herald’s Q Blog

Reginald Tiangha, Calgary Herald
Published: Tuesday, March 5, 2007

Reginald Tiangha March 5 – 22:00 – As a hockey fan, I find it interesting that in this day and age where one can buy Pay-Per-View or programming packages that give you access to virtually every televised hockey game, where sports television stations operate 24 hours a day, and where anything can be streamed over the Internet either in real-time or tape delay, there are still games that just aren’t televised and can only be seen (or heard, I guess) through the radio. Case in point: the Saturday March 17 game between the Minnesota Wild and the Calgary Flames.

A grassroots movement has been started on the Internet by Flames fans that hopes to change all this, and they could use your help.

The problem with this particular game is that there is no one in North America broadcasting it on television. This implies that Flames fans (in Canada or the U.S.) who have purchased NHL’s Centre Ice programming package simply cannot watch this game anywhere (either at home or a sports bar with satellite). An American network will probably not pick up this game so, by default, if a broadcaster were to pick up this game, it would have to be a Canadian one.

The problem is that the CBC has paid a large amount of money to have the exclusive Canadian rights to broadcast hockey games involving Canadian teams on Saturday nights (TSN has paid for the same privilege for Wednesday nights). Therefore, a regional network like Rogers Sportsnet or a national network like TSN is legally not allowed to carry this game. Obviously, Flames fans are upset. Unlike the Edmonton Oilers vs. St. Louis game (which will also not be televised), the Wild vs. Flames game has serious implications and the outcome of this game could potentially mean the difference between the third and last playoff spots. For a team that has played spectacularly at home but not-so-spectacularly on the road, this game has meaning and diehard Flames fans who are unable to get tickets to the game want to see it.

A bunch of fans on the Calgary Flames fan community website Calgarypuck.com have started an e-mail campaign to try to persuade the CBC to carry the game as a regional broadcast only, and to try to persuade the Calgary Flames to change the start time of the game from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. in order to make it more broadcast friendly for the CBC (the CBC usually showcases the late game of their Hockey Night in Canada doubleheader at that time). According to the fans who have spearheaded this cause, their efforts seem to have caught the CBC’s ear but not enough to have resulted in a schedule addition (yet).

There is precedent for the CBC adding a game to its schedule in the middle of the season. For instance, this season, the CBC added the October 26, 2006 game between the Nashville Predators and the Vancouver Canucks to its schedule with, allegedly, eight days notice, so it’s not entirely impossible for this game to be added as well. At least, the Flames fans on that website hope so. I find it fascinating how the Internet has allowed grassroots movements like this one (and the Vote for Rory campaign) to become more organized, which in turn, has made them much more effective.

If you would like to see this game televised as well, I would encourage you to write the CBC and let your thoughts be known. With enough responses, who knows what may happen?