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Canucks-Oilers-Flames partnership crumbles Add to ...


What's the relative value of the TV and website assets of the three NHL franchises in Western Canada?

A disagreement over how much more the Vancouver Canucks think they are worth has produced a breakdown in negotiations to form a broadcast partnership among the teams.

The Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames and Canucks - who currently share a CRTC pay-per-view broadcast license - have been trying to create a more broad-based project that would allow them to either create their own model based on Leafs TV or else sell their joint rights to a broadcaster or third party for a lump sum. (The number $100-million has been dropped as a desired price.)

The three teams agreed on the general concept behind acting in concert, but the problem has been in deciding how the revenues should be broken down. Specifically, Vancouver would like a share that reflects the value of its TV and internet properties. (Sources tell Usual Suspects a 60-20-20 split has been tabled.)

Talks about such a revenue split have caused the parties to disengage.

"For now, we've agreed to walk away," Oilers president and chief executive officer Patrick LaForge says.

"Calgary and Edmonton will continue to work together, and Vancouver will keep working on what they do. We knew [the share split]was an issue going in, deciding who gets what. We've agreed the three of us will talk down the road when we're a little more advanced in our planning."

Canucks president and general manager Mike Gillis declined comment. Flames president Ken King would only say: "We continue to work on this. After a new building for the team, it's our top priority."

Not Out Of The Woods

Ari Fleischer knows a tough file. Formerly the man who spun former U.S. president George W. Bush's contentious activities, Fleischer is now handling the rehabilitation of Tiger Woods after the golfer's, ahem, misbehaviour. Fleischer reportedly knows how to make chicken salad from chicken scratchings.

With that in mind, is Fleischer talking to CBS about a 60 Minutes appearance for his client prior to Woods's comeback at the Masters? Now that reporter Katie Couric's network has the TV rights to Woods's celebrated comeback at Augusta, will Couric score the double by getting Tiger and wife Elin for a sit-down the Sunday before he tees it up at Augusta National?

As CBS news honcho Sean McManus has said: "Imagine the possibilities." (Or maybe that was a Lotto 6/49 ad?)

Woods must do something in the next three weeks to deflect the media mob salivating for a press conference. While the kind folks at the Masters can give him a controlled experience on the grounds, it'll be hard to promise the same once off the property - especially if Woods tries to say his previous Manchurian Candidate statement is his final word on the subject of his libidinous activities. TMZ.com and the National Enquirer have ways of making you (or your love interests) talk.

A win at the Masters would be the best way to silence the chatter. Failing that, a discreet tear-and-tickle session on 60 Minutes (and U.S. all-sports network ESPN, which is a cable partner in broadcasting the first two rounds) could go a long way to winning back the public, if not the media.

Changing Faces

As promised late last year, Toronto all-sports radio station FAN 590 has a new program director. Saskatchewan product Don Kollins, who's been running the Rogers News/Talk CHYM operation in Kitchener, Ont., takes over from Nelson Millman, who's gone to run Sportsnet's newsroom.

There is no indication of a sports background in Kollins's résumé, but if pressed he can always say, "Bob McCown" and that should suffice.

As mentioned here before, the FAN 590 could stand a facelift outside of McCown's highly rated Prime Time Sports. Whether Kollins has the mandate or appetite to rock Millman's legacy will bear watching.

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