MONTREAL – The CBC hopes to give the Montreal Canadiens more ice time on Hockey Night in Canada next year as the team heads into its 100th anniversary season.
The public broadcaster aims to air all the team’s Saturday night games during the 2008-09 season for audiences in Quebec and selected regions outside southern Ontario, CBC’s executive director of sports said.
“That’s certainly our goal,” Scott Moore told The Canadian Press in an interview.
“Next season’s a great year for it. Next season should be all Montreal all the time.”
The club will celebrate its centenary next season and play host to high-profile events, including a special birthday match, the NHL All-Star Game and the league’s entry draft.
Moore said the Canadiens approached CBC to see if the network would consider airing more games on Saturday nights.
“We discussed it with the league and the team, and the team is very interested in it,” he said.
“We’re very interested in it, we just need to work out the schedule and some of the details.”
He said nothing can be finalized until the 2008-09 schedule is released this summer.
The Canadiens did not want to comment on broadcast negotiations. The team spokesman said the Habs are currently focused on the playoffs.
“It certainly is nice to see the type of interest the CBC is showing in wanting to have more Montreal Canadiens content on Hockey Night in Canada,” Donald Beauchamp said.
“What is really nice is that right now we are on Hockey Night in Canada for every playoff game, and the interest is more on this right now.”
Moore, a Montreal native and Habs fan, says CBC aired 19 Canadiens games for regional and national audiences on Hockey Night in Canada this season, up from 13 the previous year.
CBC stopped airing Habs matches in certain regions every Saturday a few years ago.
“Montreal is a good market for us, I think we need to reclaim that market,” Moore said.
“On top of that, they’re going to be a good team for years to come if they keep that nucleus.”