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.