The hockey TV world was shaken up Tuesday with news that Rogers Communications is taking control of NHL television and multimedia rights in Canada following a blockbuster 12-year, $5.2-billion agreement with the league that kicks in next season.
CBC will continue to air Hockey Night in Canada and the TVA network will have the Canadian French-language multi-media rights.
The deal gives Rogers national rights to all NHL games, including the playoffs and Stanley Cup final on all its platforms and in all languages. Rogers media president Keith Pelley said the plan is to have the Stanley Cup final on CBC and that if a Canadian team were in the final, the possibility of simulcasts exist.
Canadiens fans will continue to see all 82 regular-season games, although they might have to make an adjustment in their cable or satellite package. While TVA has emerged as a sub-licensee for national French-language rights, the bulk of the regular-season package — 60 games — could still be televised on RDS. TVA will televise 22 games, including all Saturday night games on TVA Sports, which now has 1.6 million subscribers, and will carry any Canadiens playoff games and have the choice of other playoff series, including the Stanley Cup final. Whether the other 60 regular-season games stay on RDS or move to TVA will be up to the NHL and the Canadiens to decide in the coming days or weeks.
What’s not certain at this point is what this means for Canadiens fans outside Quebec and whether TVA will be made available to them. TVA announced Tuesday that it will be coming out with a new channel, TVA Sports 2.
Meanwhile, the Canadiens’ Rene Bourque returned to the ice for practice Tuesday in Brossard after missing three games with a lower-body injury. Bourque was cleared to return to action, but won’t be in the lineup when the Canadiens face the Sabres Wednesday night in Buffalo (7 p.m., TSN-HABS, RDS, TSN Radio 690).
Carey Price is expected to get the start in goal and coach Michel Therrien said that backup Peter Budaj will play in one of the two games later in the week with the Canadiens visiting the Washington Capitals on Friday night before playing host to the Toronto Maple Leafs Saturday night at the Bell Centre.
Here’s how the lines and defence pairings looked at practice Tuesday:
(Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)