Skip to main content

National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman answers questions during a pre-game media availability before the Pittsburgh Penguins season opener against the New York Rangers in a NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh, Friday, Oct. 2, 2009.

Gene J. Puskar/AP

If you don't think Gary Bettman has a preference for U.S. television over Canadian broadcasters, do not try and tell that to some folks at Hockey Night In Canada.

Thanks to a decision by the NHL commissioner, a spat between NBC and CBC ended with Glenn Healy broadcasting from the Zamboni entrance at the Bell Centre on Saturday afternoon instead of his usual perch between the players' benches. And NBC's Pierre McGuire had to cross the ice during breaks to conduct his in-game interviews.

The problem started when NBC struck a deal with RDS, the Quebec-based sports network, to take over its spot between the benches for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference final between the Montreal Canadiens and the Philadelphia Flyers.

Story continues below advertisement

Under the NHL's television agreements, priorities are established in each NHL arena for the various networks broadcasting the games. In the case of Saturday's game at the Bell Centre, RDS had the top priority, the CBC was No. 2 and NBC was third.

But NBC tried to grab the top priority in a deal with RDS, which would have allowed them to put McGuire between the benches for their telecast. It is not known what NBC offered RDS to give up its prime position.

Bettman, according to those familiar with the situation, was willing to allow the deal. But Hockey Night In Canada objected and Bettman had to make a ruling.

The ruling was that the original priority would prevail. Joel Bouchard of RDS got the coveted spot between the benches.

This did not please at least some people with the CBC, since the game had already been given a Saturday afternoon start to accommodate NBC. This probably cost the CBC a sizeable chunk of viewers since night games always draw better than afternoon games.

Report an error Licensing Options
About the Author
Hockey columnist

A native of Wainfleet, Ont., David Shoalts joined The Globe in 1984 after working at the Calgary Herald, Calgary Sun and Toronto Sun. He graduated in 1978 from Conestoga College and also attended the University of Waterloo. More


The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨