James Duthie Spurns Offer From Rogers, Signs New Long-Term Deal With TSN
TSN "earned a morale-boosting victory" when studio host James Duthie "spurned an aggressive overture from Rogers" to stay with the net, according to David Shoalts of the GLOBE & MAIL. Duthie has signed a new, long-term contract with TSN "even though the future for hockey on the network is uncertain outside of some regional NHL games." The net also "hung on to two more of its key hockey broadcasters -- Bob McKenzie and Darren Dreger -- when their existing long-term contracts were torn up and both men signed new, more lucrative long-term deals." In addition, TSN is "negotiating new contracts with analyst Pierre LeBrun, who is the most prominent figure on the hockey panels after Dreger and McKenzie, as well as play-by-play broadcaster Chris Cuthbert and analyst Aaron Ward." LeBrun and Cuthbert "have told TSN executives they plan to stay." Sources said that Rogers "came at Duthie hard, letting him know money would not be a problem." However, a formal offer "was never presented, likely because Rogers was not in position to do so until its new deal with the NHL was approved" by the NHL BOG this week. Duthie by then "had decided to stay at TSN" (GLOBE & MAIL, 12/13).
WAITING FOR THE PHONE TO RING: Longtime CBC announcer Bob Cole, who has called "HNIC" broadcasts for 40 years, said "no one has called" him regarding an on-air role for next season. He said, "I thought somebody might call, tell me something, say hello, you know..." In Toronto, Steven Simmons notes when it was announced Rogers will "basically own all NHL national broadcasts in Canada ... Cole was as shook up as anyone in the industry." No one "likes to see change, if major change is what's coming," and Cole has been with the CBC "his entire broadcasting life." He said that he "has no intention of leaving until someone tells him it's over" (TORONTO SUN, 12/13).
SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT: The GLOBE & MAIL's Shoalts noted the Maple Leafs abstained this week from the NHL BOG vote to approve the new Rogers TV contract "due to an obvious conflict of interest -- not because of a face-saving intervention by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman." MLSE Chair Larry Tanenbaum "did not vote" because the Maple Leafs’ parent company is co-owned by Rogers and BCE, with each holding a 37.5% stake. It was deemed "not proper for MLSE to vote to approve an NHL deal of benefit to one of its owners." MLSE and NHL sources said that Tanenbaum, who owns the remaining 25% of MLSE, "acted on the advice of his lawyer and fellow MLSE board member, Dale Lastman, and Bettman did not play a role in the decision" (GLOBE & MAIL, 12/13).