For our American readers (or those American readers who watch Hockey Night in Canada on Center Ice), every week on Hockey Night in Canada, Ron MacLean hosts a second intermission information session called the Satellite Hot Stove. This season, MacLean has most often been joined in studio by Mike Milbury, Al Strachan and Pierre LeBrun. Now, my problem isn’t so much with these contributors being on the show, but rather, Eric Duhatschek not being on the show.
For years, Duhatschek was one of the main contributors on the Satellite Hot Stove. He obviously has many good contacts in and around the NHL, but more so, he understands the game of hockey itself. Therefore, he not only provides the viewer/reader with information he’s gathered from around the league, but also put this information into proper context using his opinion and hockey knowledge.
More simply, Duhatschek is arguably the most informed hockey writer in Canada and should be on the CBC’s insider session every week.
Now, I like LeBrun; in fact, I think his contributions to the show are very valuable. He has climbed the ladder to become one of the most well-respected hockey writers in North America. Moreover, while he breaks numerous stories you do get the impression he doesn’t do anything to rock the boat. Instead, he feels it is his duty to get the news across to the viewer/reader and let them determine how valuable that information is.
In terms of Strachan, I generally think his sarcasm is humorous, and I don’t doubt his hockey knowledge. He just gets stubborn at certain times and sometimes lets his opinion cloud the facts. For example, Strachan has gone on and on about how the NHL would rather expand/move to the United States or Europe before Canada. If so, where are the facts? Is there any reason to believe that this is true? Would the NHLPA even allow for teams to be located in Europe–which would increase travel ten-fold?
Another example of this, is Strachan’s claims that NHL fans don’t want to go watch Canadian teams. He says they just don’t draw like American teams do. Okay, but where are the numbers to back that up? Can that be substantiated? Even so, what if Sidney Crosby played in Ottawa? Would fans not want to pay to see him because he is wearing a Senators sweater as opposed to say a Ducks sweater?
As for Milbury, I understand what CBC is trying to do. They are trying to place a former GM, and an opinionated one at that, on the stage to provide insight but also provide an alternate perspective and form of thinking. While this desire is admirable, I just don’t think it works. Milbury is solid on television, don’t get me wrong. I just don’t think his role should be as part of the Hot Stove. For the most part, he isn’t providing insider information, he is just providing his opinion on the stories being reported–or jousting with Strachan.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a column asking for Strachan and Milbury to be fired. This is just a plea for Duhatschek to get a regular spot in Toronto’s CBC studios.
Overall, the Satellite Hot Stove is a great concept. One that many of the people I know watch just as much as they watch Coach’s Corner. It really is a hardcore hockey fans dream for 7-10 minutes. So, why not provide the viewer with the most informed hockey writers in the business? If you don’t, you devalue a product that carries so much potential.