Why Sidney Crosby Has Ruined CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada

I knew it would happen eventually. As a resident of Halifax, Nova Scotia, I felt it was my duty to be annoyed at the amount of media coverage received by Sidney Crosby. While I would never doubt his ability, I got sick and tired of hearing about it in the municipality of his childhood throughout his QMJHL days. It came to the point where Crosby was receiving more attention than Halifax’s actual Quebec Major Juniour Hockey League team, and this frustrated me to no end.

It is therefore mildly fitting that Crosby’s newfound superstardom, including a well-deserved Art Ross Trophy this season, has officially come back to bite Canada in the ass.

CBC Livid as NHL Bows to Americans

(The Globe and Mail – April 10th, 2007)

The CBC is furious over the National Hockey League’s decision to schedule Saturday’s Pittsburgh Penguins-Ottawa Senators match in the afternoon instead of prime time.

The Canadian network wanted the game in the evening timeslot to maximize viewership for the traditional Hockey Night in Canada Saturday night show.

But the league bowed to NBC, which limits telecasts to the afternoon and wants the game because of the marquee potential of Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby.

That’s right: because of the apparent stardom of Canadian superstar Sidney Crosby, Canada will not be able to watch its only Eastern Conference hopeful in prime time. It’s a rather bitter pill to swallow for the CBC, and I think for good reasons.

There is no guarantee for prime time Saturday Night broadcasts featuring Canadian teams unless Dallas/Vancouver goes to 6 games.

They’re being forced to show Tampa Bay vs. New Jersey in Primetime on Saturday, which is just an embarrassing Hockey Night in Canada lineup.

The league is arguing that NBC deserves to have the game scheduled for them because it will give the game a chance to grow in the U.S. Guess what, NBC? It ain’t happening, Crosby or no Crosby.

Really, Crosby’s fame has begun to work against Canada; he’s officially the next great hope, the one who will be able to save the game in the eyes of broadcasters. I think this is a fairly huge mantle to be placed upon him, and I don’t think it’s necessarily a fair one either. Crosby cannot be expected to carry the entire game of hockey forward, it’s as simple as that.

But from a broadcasting perspective, the CBC should be pissed right now. Hockey Night in Canada is a tradition that has treated the NHL incredibly well over the years, and yet they’re willing to bow to U.S. pressure. They’re abandoning their core audience of Canadian fans for an American audience who really doesn’t care in the least. So often I think the CRTC are just worthless hacks who fail to see the reality of programming, but their principles are something I agree with in a scenario like this. If a game features Canadian teams, one of only three in the playoffs, then that game should be played in prime time on Hockey Night in Canada. I don’t think it’s that hard, really, and it’s a principle which the NHL should have been following from the beginning.

13 Comments

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13 responses to “Why Sidney Crosby Has Ruined CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada

  1. Ian

    It happens. Can’t say I’m really surprised though; this was to be expected eventually. Ever since they decided to part ways with ESPN and go with VERSUS; the league has been gunning for ways to expand US viewership. Although the game has shown even a small tinsy amount of growth in the US(huge growth in Dallas susprisily), you do have a point about the NHL bowing to the demands of NBC.

    You can’t really blame Crosby here, the problem is with the NHL itself. Although Gary Bettman has been a decent league commisioner, his main achilles heel is still his inability to achieve deals with television networks to broadcast games in the United States. If he had recitified this problem like he should have earlier, than he could have told the NBC to forget about it, but Bettman is Bettman.

    Another point to consider is that although Canadian teams are a fifth of the total number of NHL teams, they generate a third of the leagues’ revenue.

  2. Yeah, it’s not truly Crosby’s fault that he’s been built up the way he has, it’s the league who’s searching for a U.S. breakthrough to try to save face as you say.

    And I don’t think that breakthrough is impossible…but it’s not possible for one player to do it. They need more than one player on the Penguins to fix the problem of Americans not embracing the game on television or in their own cities.

  3. Ian

    I’ll be honest, I do think a breakthrough is possible, but would be very far off. There are some signs of life Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Dallas, Buffalo, Colorado, and a few others. Most patheic though is Nashville, a team doing very well but with low ratings and attendence .

    A breakthrough could be possible but the NHL needs to rethink its’ PR strategy if it even has one. It just takes time for hockey to take root.

    Nice article, by the way.

  4. Thanks. I think that the problem is that the NHL looks at Canada and thinks “Why can’t everywhere be like that?” It’s like they expect expansion into the U.S. South to be easy purely because the cities are larger and there’s a larger population. Hockey is about culture, and making sure that culture is in place is important. It doesn’t exist in Nashville, it’s as simple as that, and it would be nice to see them attempt to develop that culture instead of seemingly just sitting around waiting for it. They need to treat the US and Canada differently, there’s no way around it.

  5. Tim Johnson

    Apparently the NHL still hasn’t recognized that, post lockout, the only real money they are getting is from the Canadian teams!!! For the love of God it is like the 90’s all over again. With the horrendous uniforms, blue streak and people pretending to actually like the New Jersey Devils, even though the Stanley Cup champs played to near empty arenas!!! No one South of Buffalo, Detroit, Minnesota, Boston and New York…GIVES A FUCK! Ask Bertuzzi, he even said it after he got traded from Florida. The NHL needs to stop fucking about…they already lost a potentially moneymaking Southern Ontario franchise by telling Basillie that he couldn’t move the near dead Pittsburgh franchise (should he buy it). Come on folks, Canada is where the Hockey money always is. Hell the MLS is more popular down south than the NHL and it has only been around for 10 years!

  6. Aaron

    Dont be such a sook, he’s only doing what any of us would do in his position, and that is excelling at what he loves. Do you think he’s going to limit his abilitys so that he dosent upset sooky article writers. Or mabye in fact he can keep doing what he has been doing so well, taking what was a struggling hocky team and turning it into the new Edmonton Oilers (1987 era of course).

  7. Wes

    You’re just upset because the states got him and he isn’t helping out any of the Canadian squads. People like the idea that he very well may be the best player of all time. People want to think they are going to witness history. Don’t get make at your country for being proud of it’s product.

  8. Aj

    Uh isn’t it always that way when a city or town gets a star? Of course Crosby is going to get a lot of attention. Like any other actor, athlete, or business person there word and accomplishments are going to spread fast. Its nothing against the town, just that a good young person was born there that committed himself to his job making him a star.

    And about the no one gives a fuck thing.. Well yes not as many people do recognize hockey down in the south, but there are still teams playing down there now for many years that have not sold out. And most of all i think the main reason why Gretzky is coaching the Coyotes and not another team is because he is trying to lure in more viewers in the south.

  9. bob

    SIDNEY CROSBY IS THE FREAKING BEST PLAYER IN THE WORLD! HE PLAYS FOR THE PENGUINS, NOT A CANADIAN TEAM. THAT IS THE ONLY REASON YOUR MAD. YOU WISH YOU HAD HIM.

  10. CROSBY FAN

    SIDNEY CROSBY IS AWESOME BECAUSE HE IS MY COUSIN AND RULES

  11. pennsylvanian

    quite your bitching, crosby is way better then you, or anyone else for that matter, your just mad we got him and you didnt……….judging by how much you whine…..im willing to bet you are french

  12. Whiter Mage

    Crosby can be the best player in the NHL, but not until he quits diving, stands up for himself instead of pointing at Laraque, and people realize it takes a team to win games, not just one player. It’ll also help his image if he doesn’t act like such a self-centered tool off the ice. Also – I’m a hockey fan from the town of Winchester, VA. Trust me when I say that hockey has roots down here, and it’s starting to grow. Kids here like hockey, which means in 10-20 years time, adults will too.
    Obviously these Southern teams were all mistakes, or poorly orchestrated gambles. Oh, except for the examples you can list where hockey’s doing very well (Dallas? I’ve heard San Jose has a loyal following). Common trend between those teams? Success. Regardless, before you Canadians bash the fan bases of the teams in the southern US, why don’t you come down and see the fact that we really do care about our teams. Meanwhile, I will be booing Crosby loudly whenever I see him on TV or at a game (And the Pens are very popular on Winchester bar televisions).

  13. I’ve always enjoyed watching J. Lopez in her shows.

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