When I first started watching the NHL as a kid, I was lucky if I got to see two periods a week. Hockey Night in Canada viewing was a ritual and bedtime was usually when the buzzer sounded after the first; on special occasions, I got to see the second. (Back in those days, the game started at 8 p.m. EST).
Because so few games were aired, the Saturday night game was often it for the week and that was more than fine.
More than 35 years later, I’m spoiled for choice. I can view virtually every game on TV if I separate myself from the requisite dollars and it has become my entitlement.
I suppose that’s what has brought me to rant mode on the verge of the playoffs. All season, I simmered as TSN2 and Rogers were unable to reach an agreement for the cable provider to carry the new channel. It prevented myself and thousands of other Centre Ice subscribers/Rogers customers from seeing a handful of games we thought we’d paid for, including the early-season re-match between last year's Stanley Cup finalists, Detroit and Pittsburgh.
Now comes word TSN2 will be airing post-season games – though likely none involving Canadian teams – and still no pact with Rogers is imminent.
“We’re still in negotiations with them,” said a TSN spokesperson. “We’re hopeful we’ll get it done, but we’ve been saying that for a while now.”
For those not aware, Rogers is a communications behemoth in Canada, servicing nearly 2.5 million households for cable TV purposes. It’s a giant that, through shrewd business practices, has become king of its industry in the Great White North. It also owns Rogers Sportsnet, TSN’s primary competitor, but only a cynic would suggest that rivalry is at the base of the contractual impasse.
Admittedly, I have options. Cancel my Rogers service and switch to Bell or Star Choice, an alternative I may consider. It may be an inconvenient solution for people who also have Rogers cell phones, home phones and Internet connections, but a viable one.
I could also get a life, put this into perspective and realize in the grand scope of humanity this is less than a non-issue.
But I’m not always that big a person. Sometimes I’m quite small, I want what I want, what I believe I am due, what I’ve paid for, what the constitution or Charter of Rights ought to guarantee me. I want cable justice!
The consequences could be dire. With one fewer playoff series beamed into my house, I may wind up spending more time with my family, reading or even tackling jobs around the house.
Heck, I may even discover I can live without my multi-tiered cable package, the digital high-def signal and my rented digital video recorder; that all I really need is two periods a week and The Hockey News.
What I’ll likely do, however, is the Canadian thing. Nothing. I’ll silently brood and dream of all I’m missing. Heaven help them, though, if a Carolina/Washington series goes into quadruple OT and I miss the greatest goal Alex Ovechkin has ever scored.
Then I will really get mad. I might even consider writing a letter.
Jason Kay is the editor in chief of The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears every Friday.
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