While the countdown clock for the start of the NHL season has finally reached zero at the headquarters of Rogers Sportsnet, today cannot be a particularly festive day at the TSN studios. The network carried its NHL preview show Tuesday night and observers said there simply was not the same buzz in the place. That, of course, has to do with the fact that it was teeing up games it will not be showing, nor will have a chance to air for the next 12 seasons.
But for two of TSN's most prominent insiders, the blow was softened at least a little when it was announced that former THN editor-in-chief Bob McKenzie and hockey insider Darren Dreger will be part of NBCSN's Wednesday Night Rivarly broadcasts and other special events such as the all-star game, Stanley Cup final and NHL draft shows.
But fear not, Canadian viewers. When Rogers first secured the NHL Canadian rights last spring, one of the first things TSN did was secure its on-air talent with new deals. According to both McKenzie and Dreger, there is no danger that an American network will scoop up TSN's insiders and neither will be taking his Gemini Awards south of the border. In fact, McKenzie pointed out that he was actually a regular on NBCSN's Wednesday night broadcasts last year, but the hits were done via satellite. The big difference now is he'll fly out of Toronto every Wednesday morning and will head to the studios in Stamford, Conn., do the show and return Thursday morning.
"Nothing changes at TSN," McKenzie said. "Now it will just be a 24-hour whirlwind for me. But I'm honored and thrilled to have the chance to do this."
The situation is a win for TSN because it continues to give the network a presence on the big stage with its talent. After TSN lost the national rights, it freed up people such as McKenzie and Dreger to explore other opportunities such as the one at NBCSN. And the fact of the matter is, neither McKenzie nor Dreger will change his role just because their network doesn't have NHL games. Their job is to stay connected and deliver insider information regardless of whether or not TSN is carrying games. And it's a win for NBCSN because it gets two of the game's most respected, accomplished and credible insiders.
The way it will work is McKenzie will be the main TSN analyst for NBCSN. But there will be weeks when Dreger takes his spot on the panel. And if a big story breaks, both will be available to provide information and analysis.
"It will be similar to what we do at TSN," Dreger said. "We both provide a fairly substantial level of insider information for TSN and I don't see that changing in any way, shape or form. We'll be basically duplicating our efforts."