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Hate to see anyone lose their jobs, but Armitage was way past his best-before date.  His role with CBC had been diminished the past few years, covering sports that had very limited appeal in today's world.  That said, he approached his job with tons of enthusiasm.  I don't think he was the most knowledgable PxP guy, as during a CFL game, he once called a tackle at the 57 yard line (the NFL equivalent being the 52 yard line). 

Mark Lee was without a doubt, the worst PxP man I've ever heard.  Listening to him call any live action had me rushing to hit the mute button.  CBC Sports did him a disservice by first asking him to call live action in signature properties such as the CFL and NHL, and following a legend like Don Wittman didn't help.  He never had a feel to calling fast action sports.  I heard that when he was offered HNIC full time, he protested by saying he didn't know enough about the NHL to call games, but was forced into it because he was already on the CBC Sports payroll.  While he did know football, he and Chris Walby made CFL on CBC telecasts hard to listen to. 

CBC Sports used to be a jewel in the CBC crown.  Don Wittman, Don Chevrier, Ernie Afaganis and Ted Reynolds were the voices I grew up with on CBC,and all but Ernie are gone now.

3 months, 1 week ago on Conversation @ http://awfulannouncing.com/2014/cbc-axes-veteran-sportscasters-steve-armitage-and-mark-lee.html

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Ed Olczyk always was a serious horse racing enthusiast, and truly knows his stuff where the ponies are concerned.  He's had a prominent place on WGN TV's horse racing coverage from Arlington Downs for years as a handicapping expert, and practically lived at Assiniboia Downs in Winnipeg when he was a member of the Jets (NHL Version 1).


When the CBC feted the terminally ill Don Wittman before he died, Olczyk had recorded a tribute to Wittman that alluded to their shared love of the horses.  Wittman was a great gambler at everything.  An aside: One of the best times I had at the craps table was when Wittman was throwing dice with me in 2001, and he regaled me with a few great stories over his career. 

5 months ago on Conversation @ http://awfulannouncing.com/2014/eddie-olczyk-will-work-as-a-reporter-for-nbcs-breeders-cup-coverage-from-santa-anita.html

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The best thing to come out of the Rogers/NHL deal is that they actually look at talent as a prerequisite to being on air.  Mark Lee was the de facto 2 or 3 PxP man on HNiC for years despite the fact he was probably the worst PxP man in the business.  He has no feel for the game, a terrible speaking style, and was prone to yell into the mike at the wrong times.  His only qualification: he was a CBC staffer and CBC didn't want to pay a freelancer like Dean Brown to call more games.  I've heard Lee never wanted the job but it was forced on him by management. 


Jim Hughson as the lead PxP man is a no brainer.  Bob Cole may have lost a step and past his prime, but he certainly was on his game this playoff season.  Even a diminished Cole is still better than most of the voices on the local Canadian TV packages like Kevin Quinn or John Shorthouse.  Paul Romanuk was the lead PxP man on TSN for years before he left to work in Europe, and I'm happy to see him back calling NHL games again.  Dave Randorf wouldn't have been my first choice, but he does have a national profile and they could've done worse.  It's too bad Dean Brown might be out of a TV job with TSN acquiring the local Senators package. 

5 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://awfulannouncing.com/2014/rogers-to-announce-hiring-of-jim-hughson-paul-romanuk-and-dave-randorf-for-nhl-package.html

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What Rogers will have to do is to beef up their on-air talent next year.  They don't have any announcing teams that would qualify as being a number one team on a national network.  Amongst their regional PxP callers, there are a couple of good guys (Dean Brown and John Shorthouse), a serviceable guy in Kevin Quinn, and one who's still learning the ropes (Rob Kerr).  Denis Potvin and John Garrett are complete analysts, but not ones who should carry the featured game.  


I would bet there will be some on-air talent from TSN will be looking for a new place to call home.  Chris Cuthbert and Gord Miller are 1 and 1A at TSN (and they both call CFL games), but I think they'll only keep one of them.  Only way they keep both of them next year is if they make one of them the voice of the Canadiens' regional production.  If they only keep one, I would count on Miller staying.  Ray Ferraro should find a home quite easily, either with Sportsnet or NBCSN.  Darren Dreger and Bob McKenzie aren't going anywhere. James Duthie is probably safe.   That leaves guys like Mike Johnson and Aaron Ward looking.

Where CBC's talent is concerned: Jim Hughson and Craig Simpson right now make up CBC's lead team, and would probably be a fit again at Sportsnet (they were the lead team during Sportsnet's first few years).  Hughson could also be brought back to call Blue Jays games with Buck Martinez, since they did those broadcasts for TSN back in the early 90s.  Bob Cole will probably get retired.  Mark Lee should not be allowed anywhere near a microphone.  Rick Ball is pretty good, but doesn't have the gravitas to be more than a depth caller.  Dean Brown gets the occasional game for CBC, but his role should expand in the Sportsnet world next year.

12 months ago on NHL COO John Collins on the league's new TV deal with Rogers

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Looking at all the details, Rogers may have accomplished an amazing feat here.  On Canadian TV, hockey is the only thing that truly matters.  So Rogers shuts out their main competition (TSN) for winter programming on a national basis for the next 12 years.  By sublicensing games to CBC for free for the next four years, not only do they reap all the ad revenue on CBC broadcasts, but they also maintain the profitable US programming on their City network during the playoffs.  While HNIC on CBC stays for the next 4 years, they can use that time to further build out City's national network and then cut out the CBC entirely, or extend the agreement further.


I think the big thing is where Rogers is going to have complete editorial and production control over HNIC starting next year.  That is huge, and may improve the presentation on CBC going forward.  I've always thought that CBC never optimally utilized on air talent that well.  Eliotte Friedman, Scott Oake, Jim Hughson, and Craig Simpson are among the best at what they do.  However, Ron MacLean and Don Cherry's schtick got old 20 years ago.  Bob Cole should have been pushed from the number 1 PxP perch years earlier, and they should have let Hughson rotate with Chris Cuthbert being the number one HNIC team before they let Cuthbert go.   Kevin Weekes and PJ Stock as analysts are awful.  

Mark Lee hands down, is the worst PxP caller for any sport I've ever heard.  Lee should be out of a job when all is said and done.  If this deal gets him off the air where hockey is concerned, I'm all for it.

12 months ago on CBC and Sportsnet may have combined to oust TSN from NHL rights

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It's not the first time TSN has lost NHL rights.  When CTV Sportsnet (the previous incarnation of Rogers Sportsnet) was first launched in the mid-90s, they took away the cable TV rights from TSN.  This will hurt TSN the most, which would essentially leave them with only the Hockey Canada package.  NHL hockey was a great way to generate Canadian content that people would actually want.


That said, I always figured that TSN and Rogers would find a way to shut out the CBC in the next contract, using it either as a breakeven or loss leader.  One of CTV (TSN's parent) or City (Rogers' parent) would get the over the air rights, while the other side got the national cable rights.  The only thing that really keeps CBC Sports going is the NHL.  The only logic of letting CBC keep the main rights package (especially from CTV's perspective) would be that it keeps the private networks from losing their profitable US programming, and letting the CBC dominate domestic non-sports programming.  The CRTC would then likely mandate CTV and City to produce more Canadian programming, which would be infinitely more expensive. HNIC pays for more CBC programming than you think.



1 year ago on CBC and Sportsnet may have combined to oust TSN from NHL rights

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Yeah, but if only CBC's on-air talent was at the same level as TSN's.  Mark Lee is absolutely the worst PxP caller, and Don Cherry needs to be put out of his misery.  Or we do.

1 year, 6 months ago on CBC nails it with its opening NHL montage for the NHL playoffs | May | 2013

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