HALIFAX – The CBC says it plans to highlight a small place with a passion for the game when Prince Edward Island hosts the annual Hockey Day In Canada telecast Feb.11.
Producer Mike Dodson said P.E.I. was chosen because of the province’s rich hockey heritage.
“They are very passionate about hockey and if you look at, over the years, the number of NHLers that it has produced per capita it’s pretty incredible,” said Dodson.
He said the broadcast would run several features on the history of hockey in P.E.I. and would delve into the rivalry between its two largest cities, Charlottetown and Summerside.
“It just struck as a great place to celebrate the game from,” Dodson said.
The network will use 13 live locations across the country and will broadcast NHL games featuring all seven Canadian teams over more than 13 hours on the air.
This year’s theme is hockey heroes and there will be several profiles featured throughout the day.
Hockey Night In Canada’s Ron MacLean and Don Cherry will host the broadcast from a specially built outdoor rink in Summerside.
MacLean said getting a chance each year to feature grassroots hockey and hockey stories boosts his enthusiasm for the game.
“That’s what keeps you really excited about the NHL game, it’s never lost on you that at the grass roots it is about the game,” said MacLean.
Cherry echoed the sentiment saying his “greatest thrill” is watching minor hockey.
“Going out to a place like P.E.I. and going out and watching the kids—to me that is hockey,” said Cherry.
Known for his outrageous blazers, Cherry says he will wear a new “special jacket” for the occasion, although he wouldn’t describe it.
Several former NHLers will also take part in the broadcast including, P.E.I. native Gerard Gallant, Wendel Clark, Mark Napier, Tim Taylor, and Trevor Linden.
Canadian crooner Michael Buble is also expected to play in a ball hockey game that will be part of a segment from Richmond, B.C.