Why is it that the CBC seems to categorically detest the Green Men?
First, Glen Healy called them out in the middle of a game calling them “side-show freaks”. Then Don Cherry yesterday went on the Jim Rome show and said “I don’t like those jerks”. He cited them stroking the cut out photo of Carrie Underwood wearing a Canucks jersey they brought to the game while husband Mike Fisher sat in the box (Fisher afterwards admitted he thought it was hilarious and if it hadn’t been a playoff game he would have kissed it). Cherry then expressed the deluded notion that the guys in the box are “violent men” and are in a bad state of mind when they take a penalty in the playoffs and an altercation could occur.
Once again, the ineptitude of CBC sports knows no bounds. What is the highest rated program on the CBC right now? That’s right, Vancouver Canucks games. By a mile. The Green Men are exceedingly popular in Vancouver and this venom being spit at them from every angle is offputting for Canucks fans.
The Green Men, for their part, have played fairly nice. The NHL asked them to stop touching the glass which essentially banned their signature handstand move. They obliged and even had some fun with it by bringing a cut out photo of the handstand and posed completely motionless during one penalty. Their highly anticipated act for Shane O’Brien was hilarious. One held a sign saying “Which way to the Roxy?” while the other mixed a fake martini. This is of course in reference to Shane’s party-boy act in Vancouver (see Olympic break, 2010) while he was here for each of the past two seasons. O’Brien was popular with Vancouver fans and this is clearly just some friendly jabbing to a former player.
Yet the CBC’s on-air personalities continue to pile on Vancouver’s first fans. We all know Cherry is losing it a bit and Healy did backpedal on his comments after the Green Men called him out in an interview with Scott Oake during game 3 in Nashville. But this is the station’s biggest draw and their staff do nothing to enamour themselves to Vancouver’s viewership. I’m not suggesting that the CBC put a muzzle on anyone but professional sports coverage is about engaging the fans. It’s entertainment and the Green Men provide that. Hockey Night in Canada should embrace them in all ways and thus endear themselves to the Vancouver fan. With all the nonsense fans have had to endure with non-functioning penalty timers and video feed problems the least they could do is not put out their viewers even more.
But all of this is just a microcosm of the Canadian sports broadcasting landscape. CBC makes all of these bumbling, amateur mistakes time and time again while their competitors do not. TSN has an extremely high quality broadcast in terms of both video and commentary. Their discussion is on point, includes top analysts and player guests, and is genuinely funny at times. TSN, owned by media giant Bell, has infringed on the CBC’s dominance in the past few years. First, they cracked the CBC’s monopoly on playoff hockey by first acquiring the rights to series featuring American teams and eventually one first round Canadian playoff series, when enough Canadian teams qualify for the playoffs. Then they struck right at the heart of the CBC by buying the Hockey Song when the rights came up a few years ago. The CBC could not come close to the offer.
The CBC`s current contract with the NHL expires in 2014 and TSN will no doubt be trying to pick it up. If the NHL makes the move, many fans will pine for the nostalgia of watching games on channel 3 on Saturday nights, Coach`s Corner, and all the like. But the young, fickle sports fans who make up the most important demographics to broadcasters have little attachment to that and will make the change seamlessly. They will be drawn in by a more professional broadcast and the expanded coverage that the country`s top broadcaster could offer. The fact that TSN is not a part of basic cable could hurt their chances but they could easily show games on sister station CTV which is, as was the case for Canada hockey games during the 2010 Olympics.
Realistically though, hockey crazed Canadians will find the game no matter where it is.
The NHL should make the move towards TSN. CBC`s future is uncertain as PM Stephen Harper made noise about cutting funding to the public broadcasting station while in a minority government and his new majority could give him the latitude to follow through. At the end of the day TSN quite simply just does sports, and hockey, better than the CBC. Canadian hockey fans and the Stanley Cup Playoffs simply deserve the best.
Even the oldest of old school fans will be delighted to find their favorite song waiting for them.