After two years of declining ratings since winning a bid for the NHL's national television rights in Canada, Rogers promised it would make some big changes. It started by axing panel host George Stroumboulopoulous and bringing back former host Ron MacLean. Panellists such as Glenn Healy and PJ Stock have also been shown the door.
Rogers doesn't intend to stop there, however. More drastic changes are expected to take place. We here at PPP Heavy Kitten Manufacturing & Pug Ranch GmbH LLC have often discussed how Rogers needs to improve the quality of their broadcast. We polled all the people who agree with us, and this is the consensus we have reached.
Today, I present to you: five ideas that Rogers can use, free of charge, to Make Hockey Great Again!
(1) Talk more about Leafs prospects.
It's no secret that in the trio of William Nylander, Mitch Marner, and Auston Matthews, the Toronto Maple Leafs have the world's greatest prospects ever to grace the sport. It's all but expected they'll finish 1-2-3 in rookie scoring, the Richard, the Art Ross, the Calder, the Hart, somehow the Vezina, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Nobel Peace Prize. All before any of them can legally drink in the United States! With a team so well-stocked, there is no doubt that Rogers is going to want to get in on the ground floor and talk endlessly about how these three players will singlehandedly dominate the NHL while curing cancer and finally securing peace in the Middle East by making with the beautiful goals.
You might as well give them all your air-time, HNIC. What else do you have in this country? Connor McDavid? Yawn. Talk to me when he plays a full season. Patrick Laine? No one cares about Winnipeg. PK Subban? He got run out of town for spending too much time helping sick children instead of bag skating en Francais, which is contrary to the Montreal Way. Hockey Night in Canada needs to get with the future, and the Leafs- oh boy, the Leafs are the future!
(2) Scrap the Western HNIC Game for Replay of 7 p.m. Leafs game.
Nothing builds a brand better than familiarity, and that's something Rogers just lacks. Since procuring a new TV deal, Rogers has split all their attention between seven teams. That's a lot! Would you ever have seven kids? That'd require a lot of your time and effort, wouldn't it? You'd be watching TV with your favourite child, and then one of your ugly kids starts talking about how nice and shiny his new shirt is, and then it gets really annoying and you have to be all "SHUT UP EDMONTON; YOU HAVE NO FRIENDS AND NO ONE CARES ABOUT YOU!" It's a hassle.
There's a simple solution to that: just stick with the Leafs brand. Not just stick with it, but really build it up. Leafs games are like a really good comedy: you might see something you previously missed the second time you watched it. You also know in your heart of hearts that a rebroadcast of Toronto vs. anybody would get roughly ten times the ratings of watching the Oilers get pummeled 5-2 by the Ducks. The only people willing to watch that are lonesome drunks; so in essence, the population of Edmonton.
(3) Remodify "After Hours"
While most of Canada has gone to bed, HNIC likes to air a segment called "After Hours." This usually consists of awkward interviews with a player who just finished a game minutes earlier and has the "oh-god-please-stop-asking-me-questions-so-I-can-go-shower-change-and-hit-the-bars" look in his eyes. It really doesn't make for great TV, which really can't help the ratings.
There is clearly one fatal flaw with "After Hours", and I think we all know what it is: MOAR LEAFS CONTENT. This segment has none! The Leafs are the Mario of NHL programming, and the rest of Canada is Luigi. And do you know what happens when you fill Nintendo games with nothing but Luigi? Anyone remember Luigi's Mansion? Me neither.
I have lots of ideas as to how to improve this segment, but here are a few:
- A game show hosted by Mike Babcock in which there is no reward for victory, but if you lose, he will death glare at you until your body turns to cement and you crack into pieces.
- A Dr. Phil-esque self-help talk show hosted by Leo Komarov, with an intermission between identifying a person's problem and proposing a solution to WRESTLE A GIGANTIC BEAR.
- Pokemon, but with Mitch Marner as Ash. Mitch Marner looks like Ash if you squint hard enough.
- Roman Polak's Wacky Wild But Stern Dance Extravaganza!
(4) New intermission segment: Brendan Shanahan literally drinking a giant mug of tears of every other fanbase in Canada.
Legend has it that Lou mixes this elixir into his morning beverage consisting of the blood of the Chupacabra, but we're trying to keep this broadcast family-friendly.
(5) Actively work to contract/relocate every other Canadian team.
If the NHL wants to get its ratings up to the level of the other, more successful leagues, it needs to emulate what those leagues do best. And what do the MLB, NBA, and NFL all have in common? They have a maximum of one (1) Canadian team located in Toronto.
I mean, sure, other leagues have *tried* to expand within Canada, but it was a proven failure. The Vancouver Grizzlies? A delightful relic from a bygone era with wacky jerseys, but utterly forgettable. The Montreal Expos? How about Exp-no.
The immense Blue Jays ratings have proven that Canadian sports broadcasting works best when Canada is united as one behind one great team. Clearly it is time to elevate the Toronto Maple Leafs to its deserved role of "Canada's Team."
Rogers has stumbled out of the gate in its first two seasons of holding the broadcasting rights. With ten years remaining, now is the time to make drastic changes. With these simple, but groundbreaking, changes, HNIC broadcasts will be a proven winner in no time. You're welcome, Rogers.