In a shocking twist, a familiar pair of voices will be heard on your TVs when the Leafs take on the Blue Jackets in the play-in round. Sportsnet revealed in a media release this morning that Jim Hughson and Crag Simpson will be calling games for all Canadian teams in the Toronto bubble, including the Leafs.
Sportsnet announces broadcast teams for NHL hub cities:
Edmonton: Chris Cuthbert with Louie DeBrusk, calling the Western Conference qualifying series w/Canadian teams
Toronto: Jim Hughson and Craig Simpson, with Canadian teams in Eastern series.
— SeanFitz_Gerald (@SeanFitz_Gerald) July 20, 2020
This is a crushing blow to some Leafs fans hoping to hear Chris Cuthbert, who just recently switched over from TSN, calling Leafs games on national TV for the first time in years. That is because, for years, the broadcasting pair of Hughson and Simpson have been accused by parts of the Leafs fanbase of perceived favouritism to the opposing team during games. This is partially why you also hear said fans pleading for Joe Bowen to be brought back to call games on TV since he moved to radio full-time in 2014.
At the time of writing, NBC has yet to fully reveal its broadcasting schedule for the play-in round but is expected to provide the World Feed for the games held in Toronto. This would mean the likes of Gord Miller and Doc Emerick could be doing play-by-play at Scotiabank Arena, and that would certainly give Leafs fans an option instead of watching Sportsnet.
One question that comes to mind in the wake of this news is how Sportsnet plans to organize their broadcast teams in order to avoid fatigue. There will be a lot of hockey games in a short number of days and all hands will need to be on deck for this to work. It might be a good idea to alternate between different commentators, but this will ultimately be the network’s call.
Is Sportsnet really having their commentators work 9 hours of regulation hockey + any OT + show prep for like 10 days straight?
In order to prevent burnout and exhaustion leading to a worse product, they could easily swap in Bartlett and Galley for Leafs games imo
— J (@Account4hockey) July 20, 2020
Additionally, John Shannon reported that the NHL plans to have the World Feed broadcasts on a five-second delay in an attempt to block out any foul language the players may use during the game. I’d imagine the NHL’s insistence on monitoring the players’ language is in response to Green Day’s performance at the 2020 All-Star Game not exactly going as planned. While five seconds doesn’t seem like a lot, it’s long enough that the number of hockey reporters who will be live-tweeting the games could potentially be providing news on the game before the fans at home find out. It will be interesting to see how this plays out once the season resumes.
More broadcasting schedule details revealed
Along with the news of who will be calling the contests, we now have an idea of which channels Sportsnet will be airing Leafs games as seen below per Sportsnet:
July 28th – TOR @ MTL – 8 p.m. EST – Sportsnet, SN NOW (Exhibition game)
August 2nd – CBJ @ TOR – 8 p.m. EST – Sportsnet, SN NOW (Game 1)
August 4th – CBJ @ TOR – 4 p.m. EST – Sportsnet, SN NOW (Game 2)
August 6th – TOR @ CBJ – TBD – SN NOW, TBD (Game 3)
August 7th – TOR @ CBJ – TBD – SN NOW, TBD (Game 4, if necessary)
August 9th – CBJ @ TOR – TBD – SN NOW, TBD (Game 5, if necessary)
All I can say is that the return of hockey can’t come soon enough. Let’s drop the puck!