Friday, March 24, 2006



The best rivalry in the National Hockey League was rekindled tonight as the Toronto Maple Leafs visited the Bell Centre in Montreal to tangle with the Canadiens. The final score was satisfying, a convincing 5-1 victory for Les Habs. The game got me thinking about why I hate the Leafs so much and I can attribute it to two things: They stink and Hockey Night in Canada (TSN / The Toronto Star / The Globe and Mail, etc..) try to convince Canadians otherwise.

The game tonight was on TSN in the Leaf region - so the homer announcing goes with the territory. Joe Bowen is the lead guy and he is awful. He makes Greg Millen sound award worthy. Harry Neale is the "colour guy" for what that is worth. Neale is useless when he is with Bob Cole and he is worse when he actually isn’t advised to be impartial.

Hockey Night in Canada (HNIC) is an institution for most Canadian males between 6-80 and many females - whether they are daughters, sisters, wives, mothers, grandmothers or partners. The program suffered a great credibility hit recently when it failed to switch over to the full network during the Bernie "Boom Boom" Geoffrion ceremony in Montreal two weekends ago. Instead, HNIC stuck with the all important battle between Tampa and Toronto.

The Manitoban - the University of Manitoba Student Newspaper - has a great article about the boneheaded move.

I was also encouraged, by a semi-regular reader, to probe into this event. So, ask and you shall receive. The reader actually was much more proactive and actually sent a letter to Richard "Dead Man Working" Rabinovitch to complain about the lousy decision. Below is the letter from the CBC.

Dear Mr. XXXXX:

On behalf of Mr. Robert Rabinovitch, President and CEO of CBC/Radio-Canada, I would like to acknowledge receipt of your e-mail communication of March 13, 2006, regarding the ceremony honouring the late Bernie Geoffrion at the Bell Centre in Montreal.

We appreciate your taking the time to express your views to us, and we assure you that your comments have been given careful and appropriate consideration. During the pre-game show of Hockey Night in Canada on March 11, 2006, CBC Television presented a three-minute tribute to the late Bernie Geoffrion, in recognition of his legendary contributions to the National Hockey League. Moreover, during the first intermission of the Toronto-Tampa Bay NHL game, we aired highlights of the jersey retirement ceremony that took place in Montreal that same night.

This story was also the first item of discussion on Coach's Corner with Don Cherry. The NHL game was broadcast on Réseau des Sports (RDS) and simulcast by CBC/Radio-Canada across the country, except in Quebec. While there was no way to reschedule or delay the game, we strongly feel that we paid a fitting tribute to the great Bernie Geoffrion, particularly on such short notice and with so few options available to us.

Thank you for your interest in CBC/Radio-Canada and I hope that you will continue to listen to and watch our programming.

Please accept my warmest regards.


Francine Létourneau
Chief of Staff
Office of the President and CEO

My response would be this:

Dear Robert

For over six decades Canadians from coast to coast have been subjected to Toronto Maple Leaf meaningless hockey games and March 11, 2006 was no exception. The fact that you chose not to broadcast the game on the full network is an insult to hockey fans and tarnishes the memory of a man who helped build hockey.

Mr. Geoffrien passed away early Saturday morning and a decision could have been made to alter the telecast for that evening. The distance between Montreal and Toronto is easy to overcome. In fact, to get the necessary staff (Bob Cole, Harry Neale, etc...) to Montreal from Toronto there are many options: (a) plane (b) bus (c) train (d) rental car.

The Canadiens game was actually an original six match-up with the New York Rangers in town so maybe, just maybe that game could have been on the full network anyway. Nope, instead hockey fans were treated to more boring hockey.

I encourage you to visit the others parts of the country when you retire later this year, maybe when the playoffs are on and you could actually see where real fans and real teams play real meaningful hockey games. You could start in Ottawa and make your way to Calgary – they are apparently experiencing some sort of economic revival (ask Peter Mansbridge, he was just there) and have running water now.


Peter Puck

As Cherry would say "beauty", great response to the CBC letter.

My hate for the Leafs came about last season when I was at a Flames game. It was late in the season the Flames were close to securing a playoff spot for the first time in nine years. The Saddledome was half full of loser Leaf fans, I couldn't believe there were that many Leaf fans in Calgary. They were cheering for a team that is boring and knows how to choke and hasn't won a cup in just about 50 years.

I only started watching hockey again after I moved to Calgary. It's tiring seeing the Leafs week after week.
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