Not a good time for a failure to communicate.
TSN missed the first 4:55 of the first quarter of the Calgary-Saskatchewan CFL Western final before establishing its standard transmission. It took a further four minutes for the HD signal to work. Needless to say, the e-mails and phones messages from CFL nation were fast and furious.
"Nice work on the western final," read one missive to Usual Suspects. "Only the biggest game of the year prior to the Grey Cup."
Greg McIsaac, spokesman for TSN, told Usual Suspects the broadcast was "unfortunately interrupted at the beginning of the game due to an unforeseen satellite truck technical failure. Our crew quickly rectified the situation. We apologize for the interruption and any inconvenience this caused our CFL fans."
State Of The Union
Like malaria, the internecine struggle at the NHL Players' Association keeps coming back. Saturday night's Hotstove on Hockey Night In Canada marked the latest relapse as former NHLPA counsel Ian Pulver - now an agent - was invited to the panel to talk about salary caps, tagging rules and... oh, right, the internecine struggle at the NHLPA.
Pulver, known for hardball talk when he worked under former director Bob Goodenow, offered motherhood opinions about players needing to decide for themselves and "it's a players' association, not an agents' association." In Pulver's opinion, the players had made the proper decision to fire Paul Kelly based on the information given them. He kept insisting he was on no one's side in the dispute.
HNIC executive producer Sherali Najak told Usual Suspects in an e-mail that "Ian was actually very neutral on the PA issue."
But Pulver's fellow panelists - Mike Milbury and Pierre Lebrun - were not buying the blandishments on Pulver's neutrality over Kelly. Both confronted him on his allegiance to the Ian Penny faction which has recently exited the PA after its failed purge this fall. (Pulver had also been turned down for a job at the PA by Kelly, and he represented Rick DiPietro in an acrimonious arbitration from which Kelly recused himself when a claim of bias toward Bobby Orr, DiPietro's former agent, was raised.)
Very untidy - especially after Ron MacLean's clumsy playing down of the Roy McMurtry NHLPA legal issue last month. Which begs the question: Does HNIC intend to offer a chair on the panel to another non-journalist such as agents Pat Brisson, Rick Curran or J.P. Barry - all of whom Pulver obliquely criticized for their involvement with the PA's review committee?
We asked Najak in an e-mail.
"If you had been watching throughout the year you would have noticed that both sides of the PA issue have been represented mainly by Ron (MacLean) and Mike (Milbury) … yes, the plan is to have other agents on the show with their perspective of the issues."
Kelly is due to break his silence on the issues tomorrow in Boston when he's announced as the principal representative and spokesperson for College Hockey Inc., which represents all U.S. colleges and universities that play men's hockey.
The Al Strachan cover-up is about to go into effect. The publisher for the exorcised Hotstove panelist has sent out notice that a cover reference on his book Why The Leafs Suck to Strachan being seen on CBC's Hockey Night In Canada must be covered up. On every book. According to a CBC spokesman, this is in keeping with an agreement reached with Strachan. The good news for Strachan? The Leafs still suck. So at least he's got that.
Last week we mentioned former NHLPA ombudsman Buzz Hargrove referring to confidential e-mails from the PA still in his possession after leaving the organization. The remarks were made on Prime Time Sports with Bob McCown. This week, Hargrove was served with papers from the PA demanding the return of any and all confidential information in his possession and to cease and desist commenting on matters of confidentiality.
Best Blade Plans
Sunday night, no Battle of the Blades? Despond. Good news for fans is that the show will be back next fall, according to producer John Brunton of Insight Productions. The big question is where will it be taped? Maple Leaf Gardens might not be available next year, says Brunton, raising the possibility of the show coming from another arena in Toronto or perhaps another city. There's also the potential for raising the number of hockey players to 10 from this year's eight (many of the figure skaters would like a reprise, too, Brunton says). For now, there is interest in selling the series or franchising it to other countries.
Just imagine, Jeremy Roenick and Tonya Harding. Our knees grow weak.
Finally, a tribute to Steve Ellis, 54, a sportswriter with the Tallahassee Democrat who died on Thursday after suffering a massive heart attack earlier in the month. According to the Democrat, Ellis suffered the heart attack in his home office and insisted that his wife "e-mail the story to the newspaper before he would let her call 911."
They don't make 'em like that any more.