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Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Allow me to take my unbiased hat off for a second and communicate the level of pride I felt watching Ryan Strome and Dougie Hamilton get drafted to the New York Islanders and Boston Bruins respectively.  Watching these two young men develop over the past two years has been a jot and is one of the many fringe benefits of covering the Ontario Hockey League.  Both Strome and Hamilton are full value for their draft selection and there is a school of thought that states that Hamilton was a steal at the 9 spot.  Congratulations should also go to Mitchell Theoret who snuck in under the wire and got drafted in the 7th round by the New York Islanders.  The real work begins now for Theoret because as a low draft pick, he will have to earn his professional contract.  The betting here is that "Knuckles" is well worth the investment for a guy who flew under the radar this year. 

The draft itself is a well-put together event that hits all the right notes.  In particular Friday featured a very touching tribute to EJ McGuire who passed away in April.  I thought it was very classy of the NHL to have EJ's family start off the draft.  It was also a sure fire way for Gary Bettman to avoid getting booed!  Methinks the diminutive commissioner likely gets booed at his own dinner table!

TSN had its usual myriad of analysts with James Duthie, Darren Dreger, Bob Mackenzie, Pierre McGuire and a cast of thousands breaking down every prospect.  While the telecast did its usual solid job, I was not a fan of the profile on Dougie Hamilton which played off of Dougie's intelligence. The feature asked him to do silly things like memorize the top 10 prospects.  We get it.  Dougie is a smart guy!  The feature also pushed brother Freddie into the background.  Yes, its Dougie's feature, but the brother angle would have played out better than the one they featured.

Strome's was much better in its execution, and I'm not saying that because its my voice on his signature goal.  It was light and really captured Ryan's personality well. 


PIERRE MCGUIRE has relinquished many of his TSN duties and will mover over to NBC and Versus full time.   McGuire, the best analyst in the game, will get to flex his creative muscles as part of NBC's Winter and Summer Olympic Games coverage.  Can't wait to see McGuire's Monsters of Gymnastics and Synchronized Swimming!

CANADA'S MEN'S BASKETBALL TEAM will host Belgium in a pair of games headlining the annual Jack Donahue Tournament.  August 13th the teams will duel at Ryerson U, while the next day the scene shifts to McMaster University in Hamilton.  Canada can put together a pretty good squad if only they could maximize their NBA participation.  Canada's basketball teams are sort of the red headed step child of national teams here in the Great White North.   Everyone should come out and support this unheralded squad!

CHRISTINE SINCLAIR is one tough hombre.  She bounced back from a broken nose to score a set-piece beauty in a 2-1 loss vs Germany at the Women's World Cup.  It was the first goal Germany has given up in the competition since 2003!

Steve Clark

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Sports Media News A Plenty!


It has been a significant week for those like me who like to follow what is going on in the world of sports media.  As reported  first by the excellent blog , Andrew Krystal has been relieved of his duties by The Fan 590 and he will be re-assigned within the Rogers empire.  For many this has been an inevitability for quite some time.  Krsytal was on his third different time slot with the Fan 590 and had not captured the audience really in any of them.  It should be noted that this was through no fault of his own.   He was brought in as sorts of a sports-politics-issues hybrid as The Fan wanted to branch out.   However, I remember quite well former Program Director Nelson Millman telling me that if you wanted to be sports talk show host in Toronto, you really had to know your stuff.  Krystal did not have the depth to do serious sports talk and relied on shock tactics, and silly cliches.  His fawning over Jeremy Roenick and Don Cherry lost its lustre really quickly,  and not even the support of Bob McCown could save him.  Add in the challenge of TSN Radio and Krystal was truly a fish out of water.  It will be interesting to see if The Fan will reach from within to fill the role, or look outside.   I'm not convinced any of the current talent is ready to embrace a key role as lead in to Bob McCown's show.

You can find the story here:

UPDATE: The Fan 590 has posted Krystal's position.  This does not neccesarily mean they are looking outside of the station, but it appears they are open to outside applicants.  Gord Stellick is also on now from 12-2, at least during the summer months.  Nice to see Stellicktricity back, and here's hoping that there will be a summer "Pool Party"  Regular listeners to Stellick's Big Show will know what I'm talking about.

The Canadiens this year will be found on 990AM, and there is a school of thought that says that Rick Moffat may not follow the Canadiens to the dial as the play by play man.   An article in the Montreal Gazette states that the station will make an announcement about the on-air team later in the summer.  Make no mistake about it, this is a plum assignment for whoever snags it.  No doubt that there will no shortage of applicants for the position.   You can find the story from the Montreal Gazette here

The other situation that bears watching is in Winnipeg.  No name, no coach and nothing about where the Winnipegs will land on either the TV or Radio dial this year. On the TV end Sportsnet has five channels ready to go, but already have regional coverage of all Canadian teams except for Montreal.  TSN has the Canadiens and two channels to offer up.  Their opener on October 9th is alleged to be on Hockey Night in Canada.  The radio rights, it seems will either go to CJOB, which carried the Manitoba Moose and have Brian Munz in-house for potential play by play.  1290 AM is the other show in town that may make a play for the rights.   Nothing, to this point, has been publicized in terms of on-air talent.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011



NHL DRAFT:  Exciting times for a couple of Ice Dogs who are certain to be drafted in the Top 10. Both Ryan Strome and Dougie Hamilton likely have picked out their sharpest duds before heading out to Minnesota to fulfill a dream at the NHL Draft.   A lot of the mock drafts have Strome heading to the Winnipeg franchise, whereas Dougie Hamilton could go to anyone between 5-9, a group that includes the Islanders, Devils, Columbus, Boston.  I can see the Leafs making a move up in the draft and taking the stylish Strome, as the Leafs desperately needs some creativity on offense.  

Here's some video of both Strome and Dougie Hamilton

NBL Canada:

A little late, but I got a media release trumpeting five new pending franchises in the fold.  Oshawa, Barrie, Kingston, London and PEI. That brings the league up to eight.  Personally, adding 2-4 franchises would be ideal. 10-12 teams is manageable and you could have eight teams in the playoffs,  The league has maintained some visibility sponsoring the Air Canada Classic.

Interesting item in that Ken Murray, former Brock U boss has signed up to helm ABA Canada.  Checking the website, Murray will lead an ABA Canada Select team in the upcoming season.   The ABA, by the way, is a league in which teams and fans should call ahead  before going to games to see if the franchises playing have folded.


Sabres incumbent Kevin Sylvester, a host  and occasional play by play guy has been promoted to fill Rick Jeanneret's spot when he is absent this year.  That should result in 25-30 games as Jeanneret likely eases into retirement in the foreseeable future.   Reviews for the announcement on a couple of fan-sites were mixed, and trended towards luke-warm for Sylverster.  RJ will be a hard guy to replace, as his style is so unique.

Monday, June 20, 2011


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Got a call from a great guy and great broadcaster in Matt Cauz, saying they needed someone to do some spotting at the Argos/Tiger Cats pre-season game down at Rogers Centre for the TSN Radio.  I jumped at the opportunity, so there I was sitting beside one of the well-respected play by play callers of our time in Rod Black.

Now, full-disclosure.   I'm a bit of a strange fellow in that I get that sense or celebrity nervousness meeting on-air broadcasters that others do meeting athletes, and other celebrities.  I remember meeting Chris Cuthbert of TSN and rambling incoherently for a minute or two, and being proud of the fact that I got a return tweet from the likes of  former Raptor/current Bull's broadcaster Chuck Swirsky and ESPN's Dan Shulman.

Gotta say that the whole TSN crew from on-air down, was one professional broadcast.  It was hard to believe that it was their inaugaral football game.  Rod Black, in particular, went out of his way to offer encouragement during the broadcast and I came away mightily impressed with how seamlessly he did his play by play while interracting with Matt Dunigan and Chris Schultz, his colour guys and also off air crew like myself who were firing stats at him left/right and centre.   Black, Schultz and Dunigan have the type of camaraderie and on-air chemistry that I like to think Al Galloway, Ed Burkholder and I have on our broadcasts for the Ice Dogs. 

Extra kudos go to Mike Hogan for a two-hour pre-game show in which he shuffled in guests, and pre-taped interviews like a pro. Hoagie is one guy that I am really glad to see is back on the air.

TSN Radio may not be winning the radio war in the early going, but they sure do know on-air quality.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


Game 7's are so supposed to be special.  They are supposed to be treasured as a winner take all, one shot sort of deal in which proud athletes leave it all on the ice or field and fans simultaneously rejoice or agonize.

Last nights game between Vancouver and Boston had all of those elements in place before the puck dropped.  Vancouver appeared to be a city on the precipice of celebration, should their hometown heroes prevail.  No need to go into the details of the game.  Boston dominated, claimed the Stanley Cup by a surprisingly one-sided 4-0 scoreline.  Sadly the end of the hockey season was marred by an embarrassing display of rioting and looting eerily reminiscent of the aftermath of the Rodney King verdict and the LA Riots. 

There are many Vancouver fans who hoped to celebrate, but when the inevitable became the reality quietly licked their wounds politely lauded the victorious Bruins and returned home.  For once I felt sympathy for Commissioner Gary Bettman.  He was roundly and loudly booed and also had projectiles thrown at him, as if the diminutive head of the NHL was somehow responsible for the outcome.

 Sadly the city has become painted with out of control behaviour, violent, in nature and quite frankly downright scary.    There can be claims that this was a small lunatic fringe representing the masses, and that these were not hockey fans.   Video evidence will show a wide-spread violence with plenty of hockey paraphernalia on display.   Images of out of control young people setting fires, looting stores, vandalizing cars will become embedded in the national conscience.   Ill-timed and jokes in poor taste littered the Internet last night. This was no time for "Tim Thomas stopped everything else, lets send him out to stop the riots" jokes. It was serious business.

There is no defense, there is no justification and in these cases, pictures and video are worth much more than a thousand words. It will take one massive PR campaign to heal this wound for Vancouver.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Fan 590 vs TSN 1050- Round 1 and Media Meanderings

There likely was much celebrating on the Rogers Campus this week when the radio ratings came out showing that The Fan 590 had emphatically withstood the early challenge from TSN 1050 .  The key demographics showed that Brady/Lang in the morning on the Fan 590 was dominating Mike Richards of TSN and Bob McCown remains the undisputed king with a thrashing of Cybalski and Company in the drive slot.  One other note is that Andrew Krystal continues to draw mediocre ratings. The acerbic Krystal has not resonated one bit with Fan 590 listeners thus far and this is his 3rd time slot already.


What does it mean?

Well, in the early going, not a whole lot, according to TSN.  They are attributing their lack of ratings at the hands of The Fan to their "soft- launch" motive.  My guess is that simulcasting of shows is coming in the Fall and they may ditch the only import show, which is the Dan Patrick Show.

What will be more interesting come the fall will be the Leaf radio rights.  At this point, AM 640, which has severely reduced their sports programming, has no plans to relinquish the rights, which have one more year on the contract.  Expect the both The Fan and TSN Radio 1050 to take a run at this crown jewel property.  Should the Fan win out, they will have the Leafs, Raptors, TFC and the Blue Jays which is practically a monopoly of pro sports in Toronto. 

Sabres Broadcast Situation

A couple of weeks back legendary Rick Jeanneret and Harry Neale announced a reduction in their schedule, freeing up anywhere between 25-30 games.  Working with Jeanerret with the eventual potential goal of replacing him is a daunting task to say the least.  The iconic Jeanneret is beloved in Buffalo for his rambunctious, enthusiastic, unique tone.   Those who have replaced Jeanneret in the past included local products Paul Hamilton and Kevin Sylvester, The Fan 590's Dan Dunleavy, Hamilton Bulldog play by play man Derek Wills and Jeanneret's son, Mark.

This guy could take a shot at things too.  I hear he's a dark horse with a bright, bright future:

Yeah ok...its me...blatant self promotion rules!

Friday, June 3, 2011


A friend of mine sent me a video about the Canucks Stanley Cup song that is on YouTube and has over 1 million hits so far.   To say this song is cheesy, would be an understatement.  It makes Justin Bieber look like U2.  All in good fun, and the four guys in the Green Man suits are a nice touch.  Rumour has it the green men in the video are Harold Snepsts, Tony Tanti, Petri Skriko and "King" Richard Brodeur :)

I do remember when that noted songwriter Glen Anderson penned a rallying themed song for the Leafs in support of their 1992-1993 called "The Leafs are the Best" This too wins cheesy song and video of the year, right down to the bad dancing by the Leafs and the acting cameo by the likes of Wendel Clark, Pat Burns and Mike Myers.  It's all in good fun, though its no "Ok Blue Jays", a song that badly needs updating as it featured the words "We'll beat the A's so bad, gonna make Billy blue", in dedication to Billy Martin who managed the A's in the early 80's.

If you want some really bad and obscure hockey songs, google Don Cherry's "Lets Go" rap and "The Bomber" in tribute to Ken Baumgartner.  I swear they both exist!

Canucks video is here:
Leafs video is here:


Thursday, June 2, 2011



Howard Berger was just let go after 23 years covering the Leafs beat for the Fan 590 and also Telelmedia sports.   Howard unfairly received a lot of criticism for his work, for reasons that I can't figure out. A friend and I used to joke that Howard asked the most basic and pedantic questions to athletes in order to garner their response. Since working as a freelance media member, I've interviewed a ton of people,and you know what?   I ask a lot of basic and obvious questions. Every reporter asks basic questions.  It is the nature of the business that you have to cultivate relationships because you spend every day talking to players and coaches and you need those daily soundbites.  No one did that better than Howard Berger.

Also, those who critique Berger, and there a lot of them, remember one thing.  Howard was more than a broadcaster.  He was an outstanding writer who authored On The Road and On The Road Again, two great reads about day to day life in the NHL.  He also wrote articles for the National Post.

He was not my favourite on-air personality, but he did job well, and he remains an outstanding writer.

Good luck in the future Howard!