Wednesday, January 16, 2008

No longer the centre of attention

While its residents may feel that their burg is still the centre of the universe, as for its hockey team it's off to the margins.
From the early days of radio, the CBC has been the home of the Maple Leafs, from Foster Hewitt first coming through the tubes on the old RCA radio, to Bob and Harry as the Sunshine boys, keeping those Maple Leaf spirits lifted on your Hi def, flat screen television.

After many, many years of Saturday night hostage taking though, Canadian hockey fans will find something different, something fresh and something decidedly not very blue when they tune into Hockey Night in Canada this weekend.

With the Toronto Maple Leafs wallowing in the depths of self analysis not to mention the basement of the Eastern Conference, Hockey Night in Canada is moving on to other pursuits.

Saturday it's a young gun from Nova Scotia and his quest to smite the team he has long admired, Sidney Crosby and his Pittsburgh Penguins will take on the Montreal Canadiens in the early game on the CBC, a rare foray outside of the Greater Toronto Area for hockey's broadcast schedulers.

The Leafs will still appear on television screens, but only those trapped in Southern Ontario will be settling in for the Leafs and Sabres on Saturday, the first of what very well be many Leaf games no longer sent to the wider national audience.

With Ottawa fighting for first place in the East and planning for a playoff run and Montreal picking up their game over the last few months, the prospect of much more national experience for the Eastern fringes of the CBC's NHL seems like a sure bet. Introducing millions of Canadians to a wider world of hockey, which from time to time will find the home team on the winning side of the scoreboard.

Of course those Canadians that have grown up Blue and White and need their weekly comedy fix can rush out and pick up a satellite dish, both Starchoice and Bell Expressvu offer a complete roster of CBC affiliates on their basic services, giving Leaf fans the opportunity to stay in touch with their stumbling favourites.

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