Canucks are only playoff team without a travelling radio broadcast

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The Vancouver Canucks stand alone in these Stanley Cup Playoffs with regards to its radio broadcast. Rather than calling games in Nashville, Sportsnet 650 will be doing so remotely, from the CityTV studios on West 2nd Avenue in Vancouver.

It’s a cost-saving measure for Rogers Sports and Media. This season, and ever since the pandemic, radio stations owned by Rogers have not sent their radio broadcasters on the road.

Canadian NHL teams with radio broadcasts that don’t travel include the Canucks, Calgary Flames, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Montreal Canadiens (English broadcast). Corus Entertainment owns the radio broadcast rights for the Winnipeg Jets and Edmonton Oilers, and their radio broadcast crews travel.

The Toronto Maple Leafs radio broadcast got the green light to hit the road for the playoffs this year, but the rights-holders, a shared deal between Rogers and Bell, aren’t footing the bill. The NHL club is doing so. This comes after a botched playoff overtime goal call last year by Leafs play-by-play man Joe Bowen — a result of calling the game off a monitor rather than in person.

Calling games off a monitor in the studio is becoming a more regular occurrence in sports, with the NHL, MLS, and some MLB teams doing so.

“Sterile” is how long-time NHL broadcaster Pete Weber, the voice of the Nashville Predators, described calling games off a monitor from a studio.

Weber, who handles play-by-play duties on 102.5 The Game in Nashville, called the first two games of the Canucks-Predators playoff series live from Rogers Arena.

“The fan is far better served by an on-the-scene broadcaster,” he told Daily Hive.

Rogers Sports and Media did not respond to Daily Hive’s calls or emails.

“Cost versus revenue is the biggest issue,” a source inside Rogers in Toronto said. “It doesn’t fit within the budget at present. If the Canucks organization wants to pay, that’s great, but we can’t ask a partner to do that; that’s entirely up to them as an organization. The Toronto Maple Leafs decided to bring the broadcasters on the road as a service to their fans, but we did not prompt this.”

In comparison, when the Canucks made their playoff run in 2011, Bell Media, who owned the broadcast rights at the time, sent various Team 1040 shows on the road starting in Round 1, including the midday and afternoon shows. The pre- and post-game shows were broadcast from arenas and local bars.

Sportsnet 650 in 2024 is sending no one. Not the radio broadcast team, not even a reporter.

“It adds so much to broadcast on the road from being able to report storylines and conduct interviews and being able to be there in person and convey the arena atmosphere,” said Max Herz, Predators’ pre-and post-game host, while in Vancouver.

“Plus, I think it shows a commitment from the team and flagship [radio] station to going all out for the playoffs with the best coverage possible for our fans.”