The return of the NHL is going to be a gold rush for the television viewer as Canadian TV networks firm up their programming plans for the upcoming season.
From Sportsnets various channels, to TSN and the CBC Hockey is back and ad reps must be doing cartwheels at the soon to be bumper crop of games.
TSN takes the lead this season with 71 games scheduled the key night for them and their new talent Chris Cuthbert will be Wednesday night, but expect other key games on the remaining nights of the week as the season progresses.
Sportsnet will welcome the NHL back with a number of options for the hockey fan, Oiler fans can gather together 48 times to cheer on the Oil on Sportsnet West, Westcoasters can follow the journeys of the Vancouver Canucks as Sportsnet Pacific over 45 nights while Ottawa Sens believers can keep the faith on Sportsnet East for 39 games.
Parlez vous Francais, if not it may be time to break out that ole French/English dictionary as RDS provides coverage of all 82 game of Les Habitants.
LeafsTV takes on the task of explaining the leafs for thirteen games this season, games not available anywhere else as they say.
Between the Sportsnet and RDS options, the idea of a satellite dish seems awfully appealing all of a sudden.
And then there's the CBC, with the franchise of Hockey Night in Canada providing up to six hours of advertising revenue for the Mother Corp each and every Saturday night. With the Corporation currently involved in a nasty little lockout with the Canadian Media Guild many are waiting to see how the CBC handles the single most important product it has to offer. Don't expect to see the silent movie treatment for the NHL that the CBC gives the CFL, it's expected that somehow the CBC will provide audio commentary to go with it's pictures once the season starts.
And while many Canadian Hockey fans believed they had hit the hockey jackpot last month when the NHL gave its American contract to OLN, there won't be much puck action on the station that makes outdoor living famous. Canada's version of OLN is not expected to pick up the hockey programming for Canadian audiences. There is always hope for a change of heart one guesses but it doesn't seem a likely addition for the time being.
However, Canadians will be able to follow the puck on NBC when they pick up the NHL after January. NBC takes over where Fox left off as they showcase Hockey on a cost recovery basis, the NHL will get paid once NBC has met its expenses and taken its cut. Not exactly an NFL type arrangement, but about the best the league could hope for in the US for this year.
But in Canada where the puck means a buck, the cash register starts to ring on October 5th when TSN kicks off the 2005-06 season with a double header. Most fans will take in the Leafs and Sens followed by the Canucks and the Coyotes. Alberta will become its own little distinct society with the Flames playing the Wild followed by the Oilers and Avalanche.
On the 6th Habs fans will get their first glimpse of the Canadiens on English TV as TSN picks up the Rangers/Canadiens season debut. A game shown coast to coast to coast wrapping up a hectic 48 hours of hockey to start a brand new season and a brand new era!