CBC passes the puck on Flames
When the Calgary Flames face off against the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night, Hockey Night In Canada won't be there.
It's the first time a Flames playoff game won't be televised by CBC-TV. Instead the game will be carried by the cable network TSN, angering fans who don't have cable.
Scott Moore, head of CBC Sports, said as part of a new deal, the NHL only allows CBC Sports to cover a maximum of two Canadian-based teams in the first round of the playoffs.
"Calgarians may think that we chose not to take Calgary. In fact the league chose that we couldn't take all the Canadian series. It was their way of making more money out of their television deal," said Moore. "In order to get more rights fees from TSN, they wanted to be able to offer them a Canadian team, or the potential of a Canadian team, in the first round."
Moore said CBC picked Montreal and Vancouver in order to have one team in Eastern Canada and another in the West.
"In the West we had to make a decision based on market size and the finish in the standing," he said. "Vancouver is the second largest market in the country."
Calgary Flames fans fume
Some die-hard hockey fans are questioning CBC's decision. Long-time Flames fan John Shield said it's another example of how Calgary always takes a back seat to other Canadian cities.
"It wasn't as important as Vancouver or Montreal, so what can you do?"
Shield said his friends don't have cable and will be invading his home in order to watch their beloved Flames.
Cody Browne, who works at the Flames Central sports bar, doesn't have cable at home so he will go into work to watch the game. He said it's a tradition to have the Hockey Night in Canada crew cover all Canadian-based teams.
"Everyone likes watching Don Cherry and I think that is one of the reasons CBC does so well with Hockey Night in Canada and why the program is a success," he said. "I am going to miss him."
If the three Canadian-based teams in the playoffs – Montreal, Vancouver, and Calgary – all advance to the second round, CBC Sports will have to decide again on which two teams it will televise.