Hockey Night in Canada, the CBC's most popular show, typically Saturday night during the fall, winter and spring showing two hockey games back to back.

Ira Wagman says the CBC self-destructs by trying to copy its competitors
Barely a mention (and only indirectly) of CBC's cash cow, Hockey Night in Canada.
Vancouver Canucks Beeramid

Clearly both the people involved in creating it and the CBC were clearly looking for something to do in the 4 overtimes that it took the Canucks to win it.

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Darren gets a response from a senior CBC executive on why the widescreen looked funny during a Canucks game
Plays on the edges were cut out for regular viewers. Says the executive: the "widescreen SD signal is sent back to the network centre via digital link, and upconverted for HD and edge cropped for SD."
It sure seemed that way during tonight's Canucks-Avalanche game.

Canucks on HNIC

The website for the CBC, Canada's government-funded TV network that takes ad revenue and has as one of its most popular shows an American cartoon, has a list of all the games that they will show as part of Hockey Night in Canada. HNIC is, historically, all of Saturday night during the fall and winter as well as spring during the playoffs, though sometimes—especially the playoffs—those days are weekdays and/or Sundays. The listing they show isn't very useful, I found, since they show the times in Eastern and there's no obvious way to quickly switch to Pacific, the time zone I currently reside in. Also, it's not clear to me which team is the home team. (I guessed, correctly, that it was the team on the right.) Also, it's not in calendar format.

So, mostly to experiment with Drupal's features (Event + Location + Views), I created a calendar of all the Vancouver Canucks games shown on the CBC. I even created an iCal feed (which doesn't really work...). Why only Canucks games? Because that's the team I cheer for. Why games only on the CBC? Because that's the only channel showing hockey games that's not on TV that requires me to pay money. I could, though, add the games that are pay-per-view and on other networks, since I do occasionally go to a buddy's house and watch those games.

(If there are any errors in the calendar, let me know and I can make the change.)

Yes, yet another Drupal-powered site, which you can sign up for and write a weblog for if you like. I plan on writing there not very often, not really knowing what I'm talking about, but I'd like it to be an aggregation point for everything that people—bloggers and others—are writing with regards to my longtime-favourite hockey team.

Give Us the Sounds of the Game

Dave Pollard: “the management of the CBC has been trying out sports event coverage without commentators, describing it as "the stadium experience at home". I used to get this experience on the 'feed' channels on the old Big Ugly Dish satellites, and it was wonderful. CBC viewers apparently agree. Now if we could only get this for gymnastics, diving and figure skating, and rid the world of the scourge of 'colour commentators' entirely.”

I agree. A few years ago, technicians at the CBC went on strike, but they still showed playoff games. I remember watching the game where Montreal's Richard Zednik was elbowed in the face by Boston's Kyle McLaren, and I remember thinking "if there were colour commentators on now, they'd be replaying this over and over and analyzing it in minute detail, speculating on how many games he's going to get suspended for". Instead of annoying commentary, there were few replays, the microphones picking up the sounds of the game, and the stunned silence of the crowd after the hit, as much as silence can be picked up by electronics. Colour commentators often say the most ridiculous things, with the most boring stories.

I wouldn't go as far as Dave, saying that “CBC viewers apparently agree” that there should be no colour commentary—my guess is that most fans are so used to the status quo that no talking would spook them a bit—but I'm on the side of getting rid of at least the play-by-play announcers on TV. There's no need to tell us what's happening. It's pretty obvious when the puck goes in the net. (I usually watch the net when players take a shot: if the puck is obscured by the goalie, I watch for players' reactions. Failing that, if it's the home team on the offensive, the crowd is a pretty good indicator too. Almost always do I know that a player scores before I hear "he scores!".) I wouldn't mind commentary after goals and during play stoppages: sometimes it's not obvious why a ref or linesman blew his whistle, but no talking during replays. Let us, the fans, argue amongst ourselves at home whether the puck crossed the line, whether that was offside or whether the player should get the gate for that punch.

I read somewhere, regarding the lack of commentary during CFL football games there the yelling from the crowd was a little too noticeable. Putting microphones in the stands is a dumb idea: put them where the action is, like on the bench and inside the goals. We already have cameras inside hockey goals: how hard would it be to put a microphone in there too? In other words, give us the sounds of the game. Sure there will be some swearing (I'm willing to bet "fuck him up" is a popular phrase amongst our professional athletes in hockey and football), but so what. Maybe it'll expose how violent the people we're paying millions of dollars are. I'd love to hear, in baseball, what catchers tell their pitchers, what the coach is telling his basketball players, what the ref says to the captains. The only play-by-play announcer I like is Chris Cuthbert, no longer of the CBC. (Idiots.) He made even Toronto Maple Leaf games exciting.

(I was going to say "he even made CFL games exciting", but I'm one of the few that actually prefers the CFL over the NFL. Plus since the season is about to start, and I need to make sure my standing as a Canucks fan is in good order, I hate the Leafs.)

But, when watching TV, how will we know who has the puck or who caught the ball? The answer is the same as to the question "when attending a game, how do we know etc.", which is by taking a little time to look at the back of their jersey for their name and/or number, remembering what position they play, watching for their style of play, and so on. In my perfect world of commentary allowed in between plays, the announcer will give you some background and audible re-enforcement as to who the players are, which you won't get by spending a hundred bucks on a ticket, parking, hotdog and a beer and whatever other cheap crap they try to hawk at games. If TV sports is trying to simulate what it feels like to be at the game, then they're doing a bad job, boring the crap out of us. Get rid of play-by-play and you'll improve the experience.