The world of NHL reporting is set for a big change. Bob McKenzie, the long-time reporter for TSN (and also NBC) announced Monday that he’ll be moving into “semi-retirement” following Monday’s draft lottery, sitting out the rest of this year’s NHL playoffs before returning to a more-occasional role for both of those networks:
Thank you. ? pic.twitter.com/wJisCYt7eW
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) August 10, 2020
That’s quite a significant shift for hockey coverage on both sides of the border, as McKenzie has long been one of the most authoritative NHL reporters out there. He graduated from Toronto’s Ryerson University in 1979, then worked for The Sault Star covering junior hockey until 1982. After more minor stints with The Globe and Mail and The Hockey News, he was named the editor-in-chief of The Hockey News in 1982 (when he was just 25), and held that position for nine years before leaving for The Toronto Star. He stayed at the Star for seven years, then returned to The Hockey News in 1998. He appeared on TSN in various capacities during that time, then joined the network full-time in 2000, which particularly helped bolster his stature as a nationally-known hockey reporter. And in 2014, after TSN lost primary national Canadian NHL rights to Rogers Sportsnet, McKenzie and his TSN colleague Darren Dreger took up appearing on NBC as well.
It seems to make some sense for McKenzie, who mentions there that he’s turning 64 in six days, to make this shift to a less-regular role now. And that’s true even with this coming in the middle of the rescheduled playoffs (thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic) rather than the offseason. Sportsnet still holds those national Canadian broadcast rights for the NHL, so they’ll be the prominent network for the league throughout these playoffs; while McKenzie was still appearing on TSN platforms like SportsCenter, those appearances are less important than they were if the network had game rights.
And TSN has plenty of NHL reporting with Dreger and others, and NBC has plenty of their own talent to feature during these playoffs. It is a little unusual to see an insider taking time off while the playoffs are still underway, but that’s more a function of the weirdness of 2020 than anything else. And there’s some logic to this plan of McKenzie taking a smaller role for the next five years rather than leaving altogether; that will help make for an easier transition on the broadcast side, and it will also help him ease into retirement. Here’s wishing him all the best as he moves into this next step in his life.
[Bob McKenzie on Twitter]