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Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Brian Burke. FILE: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young (Chris Young/CP)
Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Brian Burke. FILE: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young (Chris Young/CP)

Usual Suspects

NHL trade deadline day an annual TV tradition Add to ...

NHL trade deadline day is hockey’s version of Groundhog Day.

Every reporter, analyst and TV host puts on his best Hugo Boss suit to talk NHL trades for 10 hours or so. Each morsel of rumour and innuendo is relentlessly masticated. Roaming charges apply on every “CrackBerry.” There are more panels than a solar energy farm. One network’s former coaches and print guys against the other network’s former goons and print guys.

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Then, we have six more weeks of hockey.

In keeping with another tradition, we here at Usual Suspects issue our annual questions: Is this the year general managers realize the price for used goods is too dear, that deadline deals do not deliver Stanley Cups, that only the BlackBerry service providers see a profit on the activities?

No sooner do we ask the above, then NHL GMs pretty much forget everything they learned from years past, engage in an orgy of pointless trades, and we prepare for another trade deadline day in 2013.

So this year, we’re going to accept it as a given, a pagan festival carefully manufactured over the years by TSN and Rogers Sportsnet as they go wall-to-wall on Monday. Concede that GMs cannot resist the lure of adding or subtracting one more player before rosters are frozen – and that they will have hundreds of thousands of Canadians in their thrall as they do.

In earlier days, when the CBC controlled the bulk of NHL playoff programming, TSN and Sportsnet needed days like Monday to take control of the story before the Corp. wrested it away in April.

Now, TSN airs plenty of playoff games but still doubles down on the rumour market each February. Sportsnet, in the midst of rebranding its image, uses the high-profile day to stake out its turf against a TSN machine that has earned three Gemini Awards for host James Duthie.

The two radio arms of the companies (Sportsnet Radio Fan 590/960 and TSN Radio 990/1050/1200/1240 plus Team 1040/1410) continue the battle with Hockey Night in Canada Radio (CBC on Sirius satellite).

In case you have something as archaic as a job, both TSN and Sportsnet are making their studio extravaganza available live on their websites. TSN and Sportsnet are also creating apps for following deadline day, too.

To whet your whistle, we asked hockey analyst Pierre McGuire to give us the story of 2012 trade deadline: “Rick Nash.” Enough said.

Should you need a drinking game in the traditionally slow-moving first hours of programming (it starts at 8 a.m. EST), take a shot every time someone mentions Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke and goalie in the same sentence. You’ll be insensible before 9 a.m.

SOCCER BOOTED

As Globe and Mail colleague John Doyle tweeted this week: Rogers Communications Inc. is dropping Fox Sports World Canada from its cable TV packages. FSWC, which has been on Rogers for 10 years, has been controlled by Shaw Communications Inc. since it acquired the Global TV network. The big loss for soccer fans with Rogers cable is the nightly, Winnipeg-made Fox Soccer Report, which airs on the Fox Soccer channel in the U.S., too.

MEAT AND GREET

For NFL fanatics, this weekend’s scouting combine (on NFL Network) is the closest they come to football porn. The sculpted prospects for this April’s NFL draft are parsed in minute detail for the honour of playing on Sundays (and now Thursdays, Mondays and Saturdays).

Watch in amazement as college stars perform the shuttle run, the vertical leap and the three-cone agility test. Gape as fleet feet produce 4.2-second 40-yard dashes. Sit in awe as sumo bodies push through dozens of bench-press reps. And try to figure out half of what NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock is saying about them.

Mayock, a former NFL defensive back, sounds like a NASA wonk explaining weightlessness as the various players do their thing. Samples: “He runs behind his pads” (translation: does not run upright); “throwing from all platforms” (translation: uses different arm angles to pass); “gets to second level” (translation: can block downfield); “looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane” (translation: self-explanatory).

THE MURRAY EFFECT

Interesting comment from CBS/Golf Channel analyst David Feherty when asked the most influential people in the sport: “Bill Murray,” Feherty told ESPN Radio. Feherty cites the antiestablishment tone of Murray’s 1980 movie Caddyshack for diversifying interest in golf and getting a generation interested in the sport. Ironically, Murray has not yet submitted to an interview with Feherty on his self-titled TV show. The second season of Feherty debuts Monday on Golf Channel at 10 p.m. (EST), with PGA Tour regular Sergio Garcia as the guest.

 
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