CBC and Sportsnet may have combined to oust TSN from NHL rights (UPDATED)

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This morning, Chris Botta of Sports Business Daily wrote a report stating that the NHL TV rights in Canada would be split between TSN (owned by Bell Media), Sportsnet (owned by Rogers Communications) and public broadcaster CBC in a package worth up to $350 million. The idea was that CBC would keep much of its rights — including the Stanley Cup Final — but lose the All-Star Game and some playoffs to TSN. Sportsnet would add a made-for-them package of Sunday night games.

However, TSN guru and all-around NHL insider Bob McKenzie tweeted the following this evening a little after 11 p.m. ET, which could send shockwaves through the NHL and Canadian TV.

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You don't have to be a rocket scientist to read between the lines here. Bob McKenzie is not someone who minces words like this, and I can't imagine he is simply overly nostalgic about the potential loss of the 60-plus-year tenure of Hockey Night in Canada. There is every reason to believe that the NHL has gone with Rogers Sportsnet as its sole cable outlet, while keeping CBC as the public broadcaster with HNIC

If that's true — and there's still been no confirmation beyond the McKenzie tweet, but he's almost always rock solid — then the National Hockey League has left its best partner, in my opinion. TSN's coverage of the league outshines every other network, in Canada or America. They have the best host (James Duthie), the best play-by-play man (Chris Cuthbert), the best analyst (Ray Ferraro) and the best studio team (Duthie, McKenzie, Aaron Ward and Darren Dreger, among others). Sportsnet and CBC already have a ton of hockey people, but they (and America's NBC) ought to pick off talent if they can. 

This would also be a massive win for Sportsnet, TSN's main competitor. TSN owns the rights to the CFL, and a ton of ESPN-based programming (ESPN is a part-owner of the network), and they still have the World Junior Hockey Championship, which is a massive program for them. But Sportsnet would now have both the best package of NHL hockey on cable, and the best package of Canadian junior league hockey on cable. 

We'll keep you posted on this one, as this could be an earthshaking move in the world of Canadian sports television. 

UPDATE: And it appears that it's all over but the shouting. CBC and Sportsnet have won NHL TV rights in Canada for what looks to be 12 years. The last word, again, to Mr. McKenzie:

Steve Lepore

About Steve Lepore

Steve Lepore is a writer for Bloguin and a correspondent for SiriusXM NHL Network Radio.

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