Regular season coverage
CTV's involvement with the NHL began in the 1965–66 season with a series of Wednesday-night regular season games. These were produced by the McLaren ad agency, which also produced the Saturday night Hockey Night in Canada games for the CBC. As was the case with the Saturday games, they were contests (usually at home) of the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, and after 1970, the Vancouver Canucks. CTV decided to pull out of midweek NHL coverage in 1975, opening the way for local TV stations in the three Canadian cities which had NHL clubs to carry mid-week telecasts of their hometown NHL clubs (also usually on Wednesday nights).
On March 16, 1966, CTV's coverage of the game between the Canadiens and Maple Leafs was frequently interrupted for news updates on the Gemini 8 space mission, which had run into serious trouble after being successfully launched that morning; when the game ended, CTV joined a simulcast of CBS News coverage in time for the capsule's re-entry and splashdown.
In the 1984–85 and 1985–86 seasons, the NHL returned to CTV, with regular season games on Friday nights (and some Sunday afternoons) as well as partial coverage of the playoffs and Stanley Cup Finals.
CTV/Carling O'Keefe initially signed a contract well into the 1984-85 season. As a result, they wanted to cram as many games as possible (beginning in February) in the brief window they had. 1985-86's coverage didn't begin until November, so to avoid conflicts with CTV's coverage of the Major League Baseball postseason and the Canadian Football League.
While Molson continued to present Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday nights on the CBC, rival brewery Carling O'Keefe began airing Friday Night Hockey on CTV. This marked the first time in more than a decade that CBC was not the lone over-the-air network broadcaster of the National Hockey League in Canada.
The deal with CTV was arranged by the Quebec Nordiques (who were owned by Carling O'Keefe) and all 14 U.S.-based NHL clubs, who sought to break Molson's monopoly on NHL broadcasting in Canada. All of CTV's regular season telecasts originated from Quebec City or the United States, as Molson shut them out of the other six Canadian buildings (as Carling did to them in Quebec City).
Following the 1985-86 season, CTV decided to pull the plug on the venture. Their limited access to Canadian-based teams (other than Quebec, whose English-speaking fan base was quite small) translated into poor ratings. For the next two years, Carling O'Keefe retained their rights, and syndicated playoff telecasts on a chain of local stations that would one day become the Global Television Network under the names Stanley Cup '87 and Stanley Cup '88, before a merger between the two breweries put an end to the competition.
|February 15||Edmonton-New York Rangers|
|February 22||St. Louis-Buffalo|
|November 8||St. Louis-Buffalo|
|December 6||New York Islanders-Quebec|
|December 20||New York Islanders-New York Rangers|
|December 27||Montreal-New Jersey|
|January 3||Washington-New Jersey|
|January 24||New York Islanders-Washington|
|January 31||St. Louis-Detroit|
|February 14||New York Rangers-Detroit|
|March 28||New York Islanders-Washington|
All-Star Game coverage
The 1985–86 Canadian coverage of the All-Star Game was to be provided by CTV. However, CTV had a prior commitment to carry the third and final episode of Sins, a U.S. miniseries. As a result, TSN took over coverage of the game in Hartford.
In 1984–85, Dan Kelly and Ron Reusch called the Philadelphia-Quebec Wales Conference Final series. They also televised Games 3, 4 and 6 of the Montreal-Quebec Adams Division Final and Games 2 and 5 of the Philadelphia-New York Islanders Patrick Division Final.
In 1985–86, Dan Kelly, Ron Reusch, and Bobby Taylor called the Calgary-St. Louis Campbell Conference Final series. CTV's coverage was blacked out in Calgary, where CBC provided coverage. For the Calgary Flames-Winnipeg Jets first-round series in 1985–86, CBC, who initially had the rights to the series, ultimately passed as they were already maxed out with three other series (Montreal-Boston, Chicago-Toronto, and Edmonton-Vancouver). The rights to the Calgary-Winnipeg series were eventually sold to the CTV affiliates in Calgary (CFCN) and Winnipeg (CKY) as well as Carling O'Keefe.
Stanley Cup Finals coverage
In 1972, Hockey Night in Canada moved all playoff coverage from CBC to CTV to avoid conflict with the lengthy NABET strike against the CBC. Eventually, MacLaren Advertising, in conjunction with Molson Breweries and Imperial Oil/Esso, who actually owned the rights to Hockey Night in Canada (not CBC) decided to give the playoff telecast rights to CTV. Initially, it was on a game by game basis in the quarterfinals (Game 1 of the Boston-Toronto series was seen on CFTO Toronto in full while other CTV affiliates, but not all joined the game in progress. Game 1 of the New York Rangers-Montreal series was seen only on CFCF Montreal while Game 4 not televised due to a lockout of technicians at the Montreal Forum), and then the full semifinals and Stanley Cup Finals. Because CTV did not have 100% penetration in Canada at this time, they asked CBC (who ultimately refused) to allow whatever one of their affiliates were the sole network in that market to show the playoffs. As a result, the 1972 Stanley Cup playoffs were not seen in some of the smaller Canadian markets unless said markets were close enough to the United States border to pick up the signal of a CBS affiliate that carried Games, 1, 4, or 6 (Games 2, 3 and 5 were not nationally broadcast in the United States).
|Round||Series||Games covered||Play-by-play||Colour commentator(s)|
|Quarterfinals||Boston-Toronto||Games 1–5||Bill Hewitt||Bob Goldham (in Boston)|
Brian McFarlane (in Toronto)
|New York Rangers-Montreal||Games 1–6||Danny Gallivan||Dick Irvin, Jr.|
|Minnesota-St. Louis||Game 7||Danny Gallivan||Dick Irvin, Jr.|
|Semifinals||Boston-St. Louis||Games 3–4||Danny Gallivan||Dick Irvin, Jr.|
|Chicago-New York Rangers||Games 2–4||Bill Hewitt||Bob Goldham|
In 1974, some CTV affiliates (like CFTO in Toronto and CFCF in Montreal) picked up the American feed from NBC (with Tim Ryan and Ted Lindsay on the call) of Game 4 of the Montreal-New York Rangers playoff series.
In 1985, CBC televised Games 1 and 2 nationally while Games 3, 4 and 5 were televised in Edmonton only. CTV televised Games 3, 4 and 5 nationally while games were blacked out in Edmonton. Dan Kelly, Ron Reusch, and Brad Park called the games on CTV.
In 1986, CBC only televised Games 1 and 2 in Montreal and Calgary. CBC would go on to televise Games 3, 4 and 5 nationally. When CTV televised Games 1 and 2, both games were blacked out in Montreal and Calgary. Unlike the year prior, Brad Park was not replaced; only Dan Kelly and Ron Reusch called the games for CTV.
NHL-Soviet Super Series
On New Year's Eve 1985, CTV broadcast one such game between the Montreal Canadiens and CSKA Moscow in Montreal. Although CTV aired the game (as a "Special Presentation of CTV Sports"), it was not considered an official part of NHL on CTV package. That was because the broadcast was presented by Molson instead of Carling O'Keefe. However, the regular NHL on CTV on-air talent were still utilized.
CTV's later involvement with the NHL
CTV Sportsnet's coverage
Sportsnet was launched on October 9, 1998 as CTV Sportsnet. The name was chosen to match the regional "Fox Sports Net" operations across the United States. CTV owned 40% and was the managing partner of the new network; Rogers, Molson and Fox owned 20% each.
The new network gained credibility before it went on the air, wrestling the NHL Canadian cable package away from long-time holder TSN. From 1998–99 until 2001–02, Sportsnet aired Labatt Blue Tuesday Night Hockey to a national audience throughout the regular season, and covered first-round playoff series not involving Canadian teams. On the day CTV Sportsnet went on the air, its first live sports event was an NHL opening-night telecast between the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers. The national cable rights have since returned to TSN, though Sportsnet retains English regional rights to five of the seven Canadian-based clubs (TSN, through regional feeds, holds regional rights to the remaining two.)
Hockey Night in Canada rumours
The possible movement of Hockey Night in Canada to another broadcaster caused some controversy and discussion during the 2006–2007 hockey season. CTV had outbid the CBC for Canadian television rights to the 2010 and 2012 Olympics as well as the major television package for curling. The broadcast requirements would have focused on CTV-owned TSN (The Sports Network), a cable channel which already carries Canadian NHL hockey during the week as well as other NHL games throughout the season. CTV did, however, buy out the previous theme to CBC's Hockey Night in Canada for use in TSN's broadcasts immediately after the 2007–08 NHL season.
The CBC's deal with the NHL was set to expire after the 2013-2014 season. CTV parent Bell had been expected to make a joint bid for CTV and sister network TSN for all national English-language television rights to the NHL in Canada. Under such a deal, CTV would likely have carried the Saturday-night games during the regular-season, weekend playoff games in the first three rounds, and the Stanley Cup Finals. TSN would likely have kept midweek national cable coverage of the league and gained midweek early round playoff games of Canadian-based teams now seen on CBC. Some midweek regular-season games could have been sub-leased to the various Rogers Sportsnet regional networks. Such a deal could also have put a few local midweek telecasts on CTV Two stations in Barrie (Toronto), Vancouver Island (Vancouver), Ottawa, Calgary, and Edmonton; along with CKY-TV Winnipeg and CFCF-TV Montreal.
But on November 26, 2013, the league announced that Rogers Communications had won all Canadian television rights to the league beginning with the 2014-2015 season and extending through the 2025-2026 season. While Rogers will sublease Saturday night and playoff games (including the Finals) to CBC, thereby keeping that network's iconic Hockey Night In Canada in place until at least the 2017-2018 season. However, Rogers will take over production of games.
Thus, CTV, TSN, and their parent company will be out of NHL coverage until at least 2026 once some TSN regional agreements with some Canadian-based teams expire.
- Brad Park: 1985 playoffs (after Detroit was eliminated). Park retired from playing in the summer of 1985 and joined the CTV crew as a studio analyst for the 1985–86 season. However, he was hired mid-season to replace Harry Neale as head coach of the Red Wings, forcing him to leave CTV. He once again re-joined the crew for the playoffs, which Detroit did not qualify for.
- Bobby Taylor
- ↑ Old NHL on CTV schedules.
- ↑ McKee, Ken. "Competitive NHL telecasting hasn't produced viewer bonanza", Mar 8, 1986, p. C5.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 "SPORTS PEOPLE; Hockey-TV Suit", July 25, 1984.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 Warren, Kelly. "Great hockey/beer war takes to the ice in Chicago", September 25, 1984, p. B1.
- ↑ McKee, Ken. "Ziegler, Molson's meet over TV rights", Oct 2, 1985, p. F2.
- ↑ McKee, Ken. "Marketing mystery: Argos off TV 38 days", September 12, 1986, p. F8.
- ↑ McKee, Ken. "CTV won't renew NHL contract", April 19, 1986, p. D8.
- ↑ McKee, Ken. "CTV's hockey games on thin ice Network reportedly unhappy with NHL's Friday night schedule", April 16, 1986, p. E5.
- ↑ Bawden, Jim. "Linden plays wizard in Blacke's Magic", January 5, 1986, p. E8.
- ↑ Bostrom, Don. "NHL ALL-STARS SKATE AROUND JOAN - BARELY PRO HOCKEY", February 2, 1986, p. C8.
- ↑ "Bid to televise all-star game in Canada fails", January 21, 1986, p. C4.
- ↑ McKee, Ken. "All-star game an American production", February 1, 1986, p. C7.
- ↑ McKee, Ken. "All-U.S. match CTV's challenge to Leaf broadcast", November 7, 1985, p. C3.
- ↑ "Strike Forces CBS to Change Hockey Feature", February 21, 1972, p. F12.
- ↑ McKee, Ken. "Networks split TV coverage of Stanley Cup", May 16, 1986, p. D4.
- ↑ McKee, Ken. "Networks won't air games between NHL, Soviet teams", December 7, 1985, p. C4.