For those that know me, it will come as no surprise that I followed last week’s NHL trade deadline with some interest.
As a sports guru, a hockey fan and a reporter, I keep track of the goings-on and note the moves made by the club I follow and of some notable players I either know or like.
On the ice, there were no big deals made on deadline day — the vast majority of those came a day or two prior.
There was, however, an absolutely huge deal announced that got Canadian sports fans (especially hockey fans) excited and literally taking to social media in order to ‘shout it from the rooftops.’
By now you likely know what I’m referencing, it’s the agreement by TSN to bring back the Canadian-born and bred pairing of Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole to the airwaves of the Great White North (for those that remember, feel free to sing the Bob and Doug Mackenzie song here).
For some, the announcement was surprising, though for those of us in the media — particularly on the sports side of things — the move back has been long anticipated and was pretty much a given after Fox Sports stated late last year that it would be eliminating the show Jay and Dan were hired for.
It was a four-year run for Jay and Dan, one that was initially welcomed by a number of U.S. viewers. But, as is usually the case when Fox Sports tries to compete with the venerable ESPN, the ratings numbers gradually declined. It got to the point where, into the third season, the figures were so dismal that it was a foregone conclusion the show would be dumped.
It wasn’t for a lack of trying, both by Fox as well as Jay and Dan, who did everything they were asked of and more. The fact is, much of the comedic shtick and delivery of highlights and information Jay and Dan brought to TSN viewers for a decade, did resonate with some of the U.S. sports viewers.
However, most that tune into the all-sports channels down south are looking for two things — live sports and debate-based panels. Or what I like to call, washed up sports personalities (aka Shaq, Charles Barkley, Randy Moss, Terry Bradshaw) banter back and forth about how either the game isn’t like it was, what the players are like now or arguing on inane topics just to create buzz on social media.
The only reason ESPN’s highlight package shows work is due to the quick hit, fast paced style it has mastered over the decades to suit the American viewing habits. It also helps that ESPN tailors its package to the big three sports below the 49th parallel — the NBA, NFL and MLB — and the NCAA. Hockey, especially highlights, doesn’t rank much higher than foosball down there.
Fox tried something different in order to compete and found it can’t, that’s why Jay and Dan are coming back with Canadian sports viewers welcoming them with open arms.
So, come September the two great broadcasters, entertainers and all around goof-balls will return to the same late night time slot and will bring back such favourite bits as ‘Ya Blew It” and my all-time personal fav ‘BOBROVSKY’.
With apologies to current late night host Kate Beirness, and whoever else happens to be with her on a particular night, it’s going to be great to see Jay and Dan back on the station complete with the wonderful presentation of highlights and the wackiness that will no doubt ensue.
But a piece of advice if Jay happens to read this — no more bathrobe and coffee mug scenes, once was MORE than enough.
But that is…just an observation.