In two days, the National Hockey League begins its year after a long lockout took away about half of the regular season. Its return also marks the beginning of CBC's 'Hockey Night in Canada' for its 60th season.
The Canadian TV mainstay begins its season by airing a triple-header that includes five Canadian hockey clubs.
“It’s great. For us, and for the rest of the country, people feel a pent-up desire to watch hockey, and especially on Saturday nights,” said Julie Bristow, CBC executive director of studio and unscripted programming.
Don Cherry, the legendary hockey broadcaster whose loud suit are matched only by his loud mouth, will pull double duty on Saturday, with his "Coaches' Corner" being aired during the first intermissions of the first two games. "Coaches Corner" often features higher ratings than the games themselves do.
In addition to Cherry and veteran analyst Ron MacLean, the CBC is also adding Glenn Healy, P.J. Stock, Kevin Weekes and Elliotte Friedman to its broadcast team, in an effort to provide Canadian viewers with as much hockey coverage as they can take. TV rights for the NHL come up later this year and CBC is doing whatever is necessary to keep 'Hockey Night in Canada' with the network.
“I don’t think you can live in Canada and not get excited about something that’s part of our national consciousness. It’s a common reference point,” Bristow added, discussing why CBC values having the NHL’s broadcast rights.