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

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

Calgary Herald
Published: Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Reginald Tiangha – March 13, 2007 17:04 – CBC, you’ve broken my heart again. The grassroots campaign started by the loyal Flames faithful I had mentioned last week to get the March 17th Minnesota Wild vs. Calgary Flames game televised has failed.

According to a letter sent from Scott Moore, former head of production at Rogers Sportsnet and the recently appointed executive director of CBC Sports, time and budget is what prevented the CBC from adding the game to their lineup for that day. However, they did manage to add the March 31 Senators/Isles game and the April 7 Vancouver/San Jose games to their lineups as regional broadcasts. Doesn’t help me that much as I’m in neither of those regions, but good for those fans that have NHL Center Ice as they’ll at least be able to watch these games somewhere.

Kudos to CBC for addressing the issue and for taking the requests to heart, but I still don’t understand why they can’t send out camera crews to broadcast four games on Mar. 17. They did the same thing on Dec. 16, 2006 broadcasting four games involving Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Vancouver with the Ottawa and Montreal games being regional broadcasts and sharing the same time slot as the early game involving Toronto.

The Toronto game is obvious as it’s the CBC and they’ve always broadcasted the early Toronto game to the rest of Canada whether the rest of Canada wants it or not. The Vancouver game is obvious as well since it’s the only late game that could have been used to complete their double-header.

This leaves Ottawa and Montreal. Montreal I can understand because the CBC usually broadcasts Montreal games on Saturdays for their French viewing audience. Add to the fact that they were playing Sidney Crosby and the Penguins and now you’ve got a game that the marketing types would assume that people would want to see. The only one that doesn’t make sense to me is the Ottawa game. Surely the Flames would be a bigger draw on TV than a Sens game. Not saying that a Flames game would draw bigger than a game involving Crosby, but at least fans across North America could see that game on NHL Center Ice via Radio-Canada.

I can’t for the life of me figure out why they are unwilling to do the same the same thing on Mar. 17 that they did on Dec. 16. So, I’m left with asking myself what the Calgary Flames are lacking that just couldn’t persuade the CBC to carry the Mar. 17 game. I’m also left asking myself who is responsible for the scheduling. Do each of the Canadian teams schedule Saturday night games in the hope that the CBC will pick them up, or is it all done randomly by some uber-computer stashed in a server closet in the bowels of NHL headquarters?

If the former, then I think the CBC should relinquish their exclusivity on Canadian games on Saturday night (they can keep their national rights as Hockey Night in Canada has been a coast-to-coast tradition for years) and should only get first dibs on Canadian games on Saturday. Once their schedule has been finalized in July, the rest of the games should be allowed to be picked up by anyone who wishes to broadcast the games regionally, be it Sportsnet or TSN. If it’s the latter, then the CBC and NHL should work together to ensure that the number of hockey games involving Canadian teams scheduled for Saturday are limited to a number that the CBC can comfortably broadcast. That way, Canadian hockey fans of any allegiance can have some assurance that they’ll be able to watch their favorite teams on TV somewhere, somehow whether it be on satellite at home or at a sports bar.

As for me, the diehard Flames fan that I am, I just purchased a single ticket to that game. See you in section 217.