Sometimes you need Sportsnet Radio Fan 590 host Bob McCown to cut through the thicket of bafflegab. With the Russian plane tragedy, 9/11 tributes and Sidney Crosby checkups last week, most missed the debate about the culpability of the NHL and the Vancouver Canucks in the June riot following the team's loss in Game 7. The city (whose mayor Gregor Robertson was the chief cheerleader urging fans to clog the downtown streets for a civic party) has been trying to tap-dance its way around the fact that it had about 400 cops on the street for 150,000 revellers.
Too many people with too much booze in a confined space has been the accepted diagnosis for the riot. Oh, and a few hundred subversives in balaclavas, goggles and knapsacks. Suggestions have also been made in a civic report that the league and team need to take more control of their brand in these situations and plan for such occasions. Maybe the club should help pay? After all, the balaclava kids wore Canucks jerseys. Funny, no one chastised the city or CBC for staging large outdoor parties to capitalize on the Canuck phenomenon. Hmm.
VANOC boss John Furlong and lawyer Douglas Keefe penned their own report on the riot. Wednesday they were doing the "blame the NHL but not blame the NHL" fandango on Primetime Sports, when McCown lost it. Citing the fact that it's been 17 years since the last full-scale riot following a Stanley Cup final, McCown said, "I feel that there may be an effort … to suggest this is an epidemic that connects the NHL and the Stanley Cup finals … This is a bunch of nut cases in Vancouver that did this. And the city of Vancouver and the police department weren't prepared for it. … this is about the city of Vancouver."
Heavens, no! Furlong and Keefe then went into official-speak saying, yes, Vancouver had its issues, but the NHL needs to be a partner. Blah, blah, blah. (Keefe also claimed that "Calgary had a [similar]problem …" in 2004 – which will come as a surprise to Calgary, where the Red Mile was a huge success.) Leading McCown to riposte, "Vancouver can't be pointing fingers at everybody and saying, 'It's not our fault.' "
Fun fact – No one has yet been convicted for any offence related to the riot.
On the topic of Primetime Sports, a reader points out that the show's Friday panel completely avoided the topic of the Russian plane tragedy in lieu of CFL talk. How could they, was the question. It was curious. Especially when you consider the long-term implication of the crash on the NHL's decision on the Sochi Olympics. The league is already waffling about security and infrastructure, and this tragedy won't help convince the NHL that the Russians can pull off the Games without incident.
The CFL has changed its protocol on showing replays of controversial calls in-stadium. As we reported at the start of the CFL season, fans in the stadium weren't allowed to get the replays at the same time as the home viewer during coaches' challenges. Only after the challenge was resolved were replays shown to the paying customer in the stands.
But the CFL tells Usual Suspects that, "we are now allowing teams to show one replay pack [that can show multiple replays]during the challenge. The one caveat is that teams must use the replays shown by TSN. This is to ensure that the fans in stadium are viewing the same replays that the viewers at home are, and more importantly what the replay official is seeing. On occasion, an in-stadium camera could capture a replay that TSN doesn't, therefore providing a different angle as to what our replay official is seeing to make his decision."
Follow up to a story we had last week, David Pratt is no longer with the Team 1040 in Vancouver after contract talks fell apart. In the meantime, Barry Macdonald will move into the co-host chair with Don Taylor on the highly rated afternoon drive show. No word yet on who'll fill B-Mac's shoes in his midday slot.
Deck chairs spinning at Sports Fan 590. Biggest news is the station likely acquiring The Score's last remaining on-air assets, Sid Seixeiro and Tim Micallef, to host the 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. slot following HockeyCentral. Because they have a non-compete clause this may not happen immediately, so expect Gord Stellick and Paul Jones and others to fill the void for a while. This would be a smart move by Fan 590 program director Don Kollins as Sid and Tim trend younger on a staff that is, shall we say, geared to aging Boomers' tastes? This is precisely the move that TSN Radio needed to make to establish an identity for themselves.
Leaving The Fan 590 is Dan Dunleavy, who's headed to AM640 to call the Maple Leafs games on radio. And, as we noted Friday, Scott Morrison has made his way back to Sportsnet to head up their hockey coverage and appear as an analyst.