Live From Toronto, It’s Saturday Night

It’s nothing new to see and hear Hockey Night in Canada announcers pronounce their undying love for the Maple Leafs. It’s a bit sickening but it’s nothing new.

In fact, it’s been going on since Don Cherry was young and possibly humble.

On Saturday night, broadcasters Jim Hughson and Craig Simpson, whom I thought were generally fair-minded up until then, might as well have waved Leafs flags as they called the action below.

Throughout the night they praised the Leafs so much, I started wondering how far up Yonge Street the Stanley Cup parade will go.

One of the two said something about how Brandon Prust must be afraid of Dion Phaneuf, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. It had to be a joke. Everyone knows Phaneuf fights like Ron Maclean.

And I’ve been sick so maybe I was hallucinating and just thought I heard it.

Glenn Healy down at ice level mentioned that the Leafs can’t let Montreal get a point so it better not go to overtime. But I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt too and say he was just stating a fact. But it sounded terrible.

There were lots of examples. Unfortunately, I didn’t write them down.

How about P.J Stock, the Einstein of the airwaves. Carey Price was fantastic in Ottawa, it was said to him. But he did let in four goals, squawked P.J., and which is nonsensical.

The guy can barely talk, and yet he’s a HNIC analyst.

I checked Wikipedia and this was said about P.J. when he was on CHOM FM’s morning show in 2010. “He brought a comedic element to the show by attempting to interview his family’s hamster, Richard Gere.”

Must have been fine and outstanding humour.

Ron Maclean in Lloydminster for Hockey Day in Canada was his usual hokey self. Maclean became a HNIC star years ago because he was able to come up with quick thinking little puns on a regular basis when he and Don Cherry would sign off Coach’s Corner.

He’s rode the coattails of that one particular talent for years.

Cherry, also in Lloydminster, arrived at the rink in a chauffeur-driven car with a slew of mounties waiting to escort him into the arena. Like a king. King of the world.

Announced by Maclean as “Coach of the Year in the American Hockey League. Coach of the Year in the NHL. Seventh all-time most popular Canadian.”

And then Cherry kind of elbowed aside a woman when he was about to walk the red carpet, where he strolled along blessing the faithful.

Cherry, during Coach’s Corner, talked about P.K. Subban’s celebration after scoring the game-winner in overtime in Ottawa, and how P.K. shouldn’t do that. Others, including Sens goaltender Craig Anderson, have whined about the same thing.

They’re all put out about this. But there was certainly a good reason for P.K’s exuberance, which doesn’t seem to be mentioned.

The Canadiens were badly outplayed in Ottawa. They’d blown a 3-0 lead. It was only Carey Price keeping them in it, and in the third period, they tied the game on a flukey goal. A flukey goal that kept them in it even though they should’ve been losing by a country mile.

And then P.K. won it in overtime. A most unlikely win if there ever was one.

That wasn’t a goal to be cool and calm about. It was a huge mother of a goal, he saved the day for his team in dramatic fashion, and the celebration was justified.

Personally, though, I want to thank the original HNIC crew for being so pro-Leafs. Because of that reason, they made me what I am today – a Habs fan. I think I owe Foster Hewit and his cronies a sincere debt of gratitude.

Growing up in Orillia, an hour and a half north of Toronto, it was only Leafs games we would get on TV. My dad would constantly moan and groan about the biased announcing of Hewitt and about the men in the Hot Stove Lounge who would go on and on about the Leafs and barely mention other teams.

We were bombarded by all things Leafs. Way too much to take.

Meanwhile in Montreal, the team was winning five straight Stanley Cups with larger than life names like Richard, Beliveau, Plante, Harvey et al. The Leafs just didn’t seem to have the class and aura the Canadiens did. They weren’t in the same league.

My dad hated the HNIC Leafs love-fest in Toronto (you see, nothing’s changed) and turned up his cheering for the Canadiens by several notches.

And of course I did too. Stupid Leafs, we’d both say. It became easy to hate them, and so easy to love the Habs.

So thanks HNIC. You helped make me a Habs fan. If you weren’t such ridiculous homers, I might have been a Leafs fan.

Geez what a thought.





17 thoughts on “Live From Toronto, It’s Saturday Night”

  1. Dennis, HNIC (and TSN too, since it arrived on the scene), have always been unofficial cheering sections for the Maple Laughs. It wasn’t as bad in the 70s, when we had Danny Gallivan calling the games, and then most of the 80s, when Dick Irvin succeeded him, but things began to change late in the decade when they started to parachute Bob “I love the Leafs!” Cole in for broadcasts whenever Toronto was either playing Montreal or if the Loafs had a road game that night. Then, HNIC did away with its English-language broadcasts of the games in Montreal altogether. This brings us to the current situation. Glen Healy has always hated the Habs, and takes shots at them wherever and whenever possible. PJ Stock, as you correctly noted, is a fool (which is the most polite word I can use). Don Cherry has actually gotten worse over time; he used to afford the Habs a fair amount of respect, even if it was grudging respect. Last night was particularly bad, though, in terms of the broadcast, with Simpson breathlessly proclaiming every Leafs goal as “THE GAME WINNER!!” Pardon my language, but he practically had an orgasm every time Toronto scored. Funny, how when JVR did HIS jersey tug after scoring the fourth Laughs’ goal, that elicited only an indulgent chuckle from the HNIC broadcast crew. Nope, no double-standard there, just move along………………

  2. Ah Denis, you have your vinegar back!! Been a bit concerned with Cherry—tells P.K. to ‘humble-up’ —yet he’s quite full of himself. Thanks for confirming what I thought I saw but wasn’t sure of—his brushing aside of that lady. Seventh most gentlyman in Toronto. Living in Grey- Bruce area [Chesley] I’m surrounded by Leaf fans.One who actually tried to convince me—” Tie Domie is every-bit as good as THE ROCKET” . With mentallity like that, I realize I don’t have to defend my[our]Habs too much. Glad to hear your story of loyalty!!!!!

    i saw, but wasn’t sure of—

  3. Down here in the States, I’ve been muting HNiC for three years. Sergio and John, with Chris Nilan beat the pants off the Make Believes cheering section.

    Last night action was bad enough, but I can’t imagine it coupled with that crew.

  4. I have resorted to muting the tv and putting on some jazz music instead of listening to all those biased and repetitive hack excuses for announcers. You should be out west here trying to watch the oiler and flame games on sportsnet, sounds like high school girls fawning over the jocks. There are sadly few or none that are impartial, call them jealous hab -hating little bitches who never won a cup or just boring fn morons, whatever you like but the bottom line is it is all about sounding knowledgeable as opposed to actually being so.

  5. Oh and as for Bob ‘Leafs ‘ Cole ‘, Ian I agree with you 100% . He is one for whom I have 0 respect, he can not follow the play and is always negative toward Montreal if he is calling their game that night.

  6. Thank God for Pierre Houde. He’s calm, happy, knowledgeable and fair although we know who he cheers for. He’s everything we want out of a newscaster; he’s everything a newscaster should be.

    I’m sorry you have to listen to the garbage you are privy to and i know exactly how you feel as I would feel the same way if it were the feed I had. Try to remember, it’s all shock value. From Cherry to the Loafs.

  7. My god that was a collective rant by all…..

    What happens if the Leafs every get good at the game ….

    Deep breath everyone

  8. I actually run into PJ Stock pretty often because he lives in my hometown and is a member of the yacht club that I work at at. He’s the type to order expensive scotch and pour it into a plastic cup to have to one the beach. However, I do enjoy seeing his wife walking around in a bikini.

  9. DK, I’m surprised you guy’s couldn’t pull in the feed from Peterborough on channel 12 CHEX. I’d twist the old rabbit ears in Hamilton & on most occasions was able to get the game & hear the lilting voice of none other than Danny. It was Danny if nothing else which cemented my love for the Canadiens!!

  10. We couldn’t get CHEX, Mike, but I remember once going with my dad to his friend’s house who could get it. It was really grainy and we could barely read the numbers. But no, we couldn’t get it on Elmer Ave.

  11. I totally agree. Listening to those buffoons give a play by play and commentary is like listening to your teeth grin when the dentist is hauling one out. I lost faith in HNIC when I had to e-mail CBC a few years ago to let them know that Quebec did not separate from Canada so that they should show more Canadiens games instead of mostly all Toronto games. I hope that when Rogers take over they will Respect the Montreal fan base by keeping a equal number of schedule of games on HNIC and to get rid of those obnoxious commentators especially Cherry and Healy.

  12. Two great words there, Maritimer – “buffoons” and “obnoxious”. Any credibility HNIC has with a few decent ones “Freidman, Weekes, Hrudey” has been trumped by Stock, Maclean, Cherry, and Healy. I used to be a Cherry fan too.

  13. Rogers will call all the shots beginning next year….CBC lost the rights and will broadcast Saturday HNIC for the next 4 yrs with Rogers calling the shots…I agree that the Maclean and Cherry sideshow has become tiresome and will soon be gone…Cherry’s stupid jackets and his political jabs are worn out.

    It will be interesting where it goes with Rogers ….but remember the Leafs are the Yankee’s of Candian hockey moneywise…..and private industry always follows the money……

  14. And Rogers owns a sizable chunk of the Leafs, I think 37.5%, while their primary corporate competition, Bell, owns 18% of the Canadiens and is a key sponsor.

    I think Rogers will keep Cherry for now, he’s still very popular. Probably cut ties when they move HNIC to Rogers SportsChannel; if he doesn’t retire sooner. The guy deserves a retirement. He’ll be 80 in a couple weeks. And Bob Cole is already 80.

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