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Nordiques fans rally in Quebec for the return of the team in this 2010 file photo. (Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press/Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press)
Nordiques fans rally in Quebec for the return of the team in this 2010 file photo. (Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press/Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press)


Quebec City arena story emerges from off-hand remark Add to ...

The public rarely sees how stories are made in the mainstream media. But the recent news about Quebec City’s preparedness for the NHL offers a unique exception. It also gives insight into how the In Plain Sight principle works in Canadian media.

Viewers watching Tuesday’s Prime Time Sports on Sportsnet, or listening on Sportsnet Fan 590 Radio, heard an interview with Quebec City lawyer Marcel Aubut, ostensibly about his role as chairman of the Canadian Olympic Association. As the chat neared an end, host Bob McCown casually segued into asking Aubut about the odds of Quebec City getting the financially strapped Phoenix Coyotes. Specifically, when could they have a new arena up and running? Any time now, Aubut said. The financing is in place for a new arena and we’re ready to go, he said. The news about a shovel-ready arena surprised both McCown and co-host Stephen Brunt. Clearly, neither had any idea that the arena plans were so advanced and said so.

Aubut was excused, and when PTS came back from commercial, Hockey Central host Daren Millard was sitting at the desk with a quizzical expression, asking, Did I hear correctly? To answer that question, Brunt’s former colleague here at The Globe and Mail, Sean Gordon, was brought on the line. McCown asked Gordon if Aubut was correct about the arena plans. Yup, said Gordon, with a few caveats they are ready, and the money is in place. Everyone here in Quebec knows, Gordon said in so many words.

Next day, Brunt’s blog on Sportsnet.ca was all about ... a new arena being a given in Quebec. The topic also became fodder for sports talk radio.

This is not criticism of McCown and Brunt. This could have happened to any of us in our business. It just happened live on TV and radio where everyone can see. And that, ladies and germs, is how journalism sometimes happens. Often we just get stories straight from left field. Oh, and not all stories originate in Toronto. Take that to Ryerson and smoke it, kids.

Let chords

The term love in tennis allegedly comes from the French word oeuf, meaning egg or zero. Which is interesting because you wonder which came first – the chicken of current Canadian success from emerging talent such as Milos Raonic and Vasek Pospisil or the egg of Sportsnet’s commitment to Davis Cup tennis. The singles’ success of Raonic and the Davis Cup heroics of Pospisil and veteran Daniel Nestor has neatly dovetailed with the platform Sportsnet has given them. (Raonic, in particular, is a pet project of Sportsnet, appearing everywhere on its five TV channels and radio programs.)

Whichever it is, Sportsnet has made a significant investment in tennis, which last time we looked is something less than the sports sensation of the nation. Even though rival TSN controls the major Grand Slam tournaments such as Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and the Australian Open (showing CBS, NBC or ESPN coverage) Sportsnet is going all-in with its own coverage of this weekend’s Davis Cup as an attempt to be the network of choice for the sport in Canada.

After sending a full crew to Israel for the qualifying matches last year, Sportsnet is fully staffing this weekend’s matches in Vancouver with singles action Friday (at 5 p.m. ET) and continuing through the weekend. Beating the mighty French squad of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gael Monfils will be a far cry from subduing Israel or Peru, but it will be a great test for the young Canadians as they enter the elite level of the Davis Cup for the first time since 2004.

Sportsnet just hopes that it can get an outcome that lasts till Sunday’s final singles matches to maximize viewership.

Hockey day

CBC’s annual Hockey Day in Canada comes from Summerside, PEI on Saturday. In addition to the tripleheader of all-Canadian NHL games, there will be input from six other live sites around the country. Hockey Day annually has some of the best story telling from CBC and this year should be no exception. Also look for Dave Bidini’s unique Stolen From a Hockey Card, a hockey-themed concert from the Confederation Centre for the Arts in Charlottetown, will be on CBCsports.ca at 2 p.m. ET on CBC Radio One, and 7 p.m. ET on CBC Radio 2.

Vintage burgundy

So we’re all agreed that Will Ferrell has ruined player intros for all time? (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsBFIP8dXXU) And that’s a good thing, right? These NBA dudes make so much money you can say anything about them. But saying Chris Paul likes The Notebook was cutting.

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