Opinion

EDITORIAL: Hockey changes

In the grand scheme of things, perhaps a $5 billion deal for the rights to broadcast National Hockey League games is not a big talking point, not important or serious enough to take up space on the editorial pages of a newspaper.

But hey, who said we had to be serious all the time?

Numbers show millions of Canadians watch hockey, every week. More people in this province watch the Canucks than anything else on TV — period. So, what does this new deal giving Rogers the bulk of the broadcasting rights mean to hockey fans in this province?

At first glance, it's disappointing. Or at least it's a little frightening from a viewer standpoint. Perhaps B.C. fans who live in a vacuum and watch nothing but the Canucks don't notice, but the Rogers Sportsnet Pacific broadcasts are, well, kind of bush league in comparison to games shown by TSN or CBC.

In-game graphics are woeful, including the seemingly simple task of displaying the penalty-time clock in a reliable fashion, or, goodness forbid, a semi-frequent out-of-town scoreboard or stats/information about players and their minor/junior hockey origins.

John Shorthouse is a good game-caller, but he's no Jim Hughson, Chris Cuthbert or even Gord Miller. And simply put, John Garrett is by far the worst homer colour analyst in Canada, a Canucks apologist whose whining about non-calls against Canucks players, and other conspiracy theories about how Vancouver is treated by the league, is almost embarrassing. Is it too much to ask for some actual analysis that goes beyond the predictable goalie-had-no-chance-on-that-one schtick from a former tender?

At the national desk, a higher profile for Rogers' talking heads Nick Kypreos, Doug Maclean and Daren Millard will be good — they are fair, controversial and have a knowledge of the game seemingly unclouded by partisanship like Garrett.

One bright spot that may come of this Rogers-NHL deal is choice. Real hockey fans want to see Montreal-Toronto or Pittsburgh-Washington or Chicago-Los Angeles games that are loaded with B.C. and Canadian-born stars. TSN and CBC have provided many opportunities for that in the past, and we're hearing that won't go away, might even be bolstered, by Rogers.

At this point, all we can do is observe with interest.

— Editorial by John Harding

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