I hate that I didn’t have time to write a Memorial Cup preview this year. Don’t believe I wrote one last year either, so 2 years now without. This tournament deserves attention from the nation, and obviously me writing about it would give it that attention….
But seriously, it does deserve the attention and doesn’t get it. Part of that is because the Stanley Cup playoffs are on at the same time. I’m sure a little bit is because the weather is getting good and so us Canadians don’t want to be inside any longer! But some of it, if not a lot of it, is because of the TV rights holder.
David Branch and the CHL had a perfect opening last year. It was the last year of their deal with Rogers, and Rogers spent every penny they could find (can’t recall if pennies were out by then) on the NHL deal that now sounds like it is going to ruin them before the 12 years are up. How in the heck did Branch not immediately run to Bell and TSN to get the best deal from them he could?
You know what TSN does? It brings eyes to your games. The World Juniors blew up as an event once TSN got their hands on it. They put all their best people on the event and have turned it into a major event during the holiday season. This year without the NHL, their best people were on the World Championship’s. They aired just about every game, and while some of this was thanks to the presence of Sidney Crosby, I’ve never seen the World’s talked about more often on social media than they were this season. The U 18’s, the CFL, NCAA hockey, TSN enhances all of these products.
CHL hockey on TSN would have been enormous for the league. With 5 networks now, I would guess they would be airing 2 or 3 games a week. Not only that, but TSN seemingly does a much better job promoting these events than Rogers seems to. How big for the CHL would it have been to have a “game of the week” for each league, rather than the one CHL game a week that Rogers does on Friday nights?
I have very little doubt that the Mastercard Memorial Cup transformed into a major event in this country with the TSN machine behind it. We’re talking about a network that lost the national rights to NHL hockey this season and STILL kicked Rogers ass in the ratings! If the Mastercard Memorial Cup was on TSN this week we would be sick of hearing the ad’s. Gord Miller and Ray Ferraro would be doing the games, James Duthie and Bob McKenzie would be on the panel (with others of course), Michael Landsberg would be doing OTR from Quebec City. I don’t care how much Rogers were willing to give the CHL to renew the deal, David Branch should have known that A) it was the perfect time to leave as exposure would be even less with the NHL coming to Sportsnet, and B) TSN is simply the better network to be on.
And this is nothing against the people at Rogers doing the event. R.J. Broadhead, Sam Cosentino, Jeff Marek, they’re all great. I by no means am trying to piss on the job they’ve done. But it just would have been much better for business to walk away from Rogers when they had the chance.
It isn’t as if times are tough for CHL owners, but the opportunity they missed out on by re-signing with Rogers instead of walking to TSN is pretty mind blowing. TSN with the national rights to the NHL would give the CHL a big boost. With all of their attention on CHL hockey like it would have been, this tournament going on right now which has been incredible, would have the national attention it really deserves.
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