I went in to last night excited to watch my Habs take on the Leafs and hopefully bring home a victory, which they happily did. As I do not get RDS in my cable package, I hoped and assumed that since this was Habs/Leafs, the game would obviously be aired nationally. Is there really any other game in Canada quite as big as when these two age-old rivals square off? Well, apparently its still not quite important enough to get national coverage. A friend of mine down the road has a better cable package than I do, and gets all of the Sportsnet feeds. As he is also a Habs fan (a wise man, I must say), I went over to his place to catch the game with him on Sportsnet Ontario's feed. At least that's what I thought.
But, we were out of luck.
As soon as 8:30 rolled around and the game was set to begin, the Sportsnet feed turned into a charming little message about how the channel was off the air for the game. So, living in the Maritimes meant that I would not be able to see this game between the two biggest teams in the country.
Why wasn't this game carried by a national broadcast in Canada? I know that the league focuses its energy on growing the game in the United States, and that Canadians will always be hockey fans because it is in our blood, but come on! Do the networks not understand that people would rather see Habs/Leafs than poker or basketball? Maybe my thumb really isn't on the pulse of the nation, I thought we lived and breathed hockey. But I guess its more important to watch people playing cards or dribbling balls.
With two major sports networks in Canada, TSN and Rogers Sportsnet, you would think that one of them would have secured the national rights to televise this game. This is not a game that should be limited to regional viewers or those with special cable packages that include RDS.
At least TSN will be showing the next game between these two teams nationally on November 27th, but I really see no reason why last night's game couldn't have been aired across the country.
So, to Gary Bettman and the rest of those in charge of the NHL, if you really are telling the truth when you say that everything you do is for the good of the fans, then you really need to step in and make sure that the fans can at least see the games, at least the big games, without having to spend $200 on NHL Center Ice.
Honestly...I never thought I'd see the day when I couldn't watch a Habs/Leafs game. Now that is a shame.