Voice not over

ROB BRODIE

, Last Updated: 8:24 AM ET

Chris Cuthbert can't imagine it being any better than this. He's the lead voice of his beloved CFL for TSN, calling more games than he ever did during his years with CBC. In the winter, he's the No. 2 play-by-play man for the NHL on TSN, hitting the road with partner Glenn Healy. In short, it's the best of both his favourite worlds. Cuthbert, 49, has certainly recovered well -- and quickly -- from the dark day a little more than two years ago, when the CBC handed him his walking papers.

But TSN began talks with him just days afterward and, as he told his wife Diane at the time, it's turned out to be a very good thing. And if you're TSN, why wouldn't you want a guy in your stable who's widely acknowledged to be one of the best play-by-play guys in Canadian sports television?

As that old movie line goes, it's been the beginning of a beautiful relationship. Son Justin, 19, will begin studying kinesiology at the University of Western Ontario in London this fall. At the same time, their daughter Jennifer, 23, is off to teachers college at Trent University in Peterborough, Ont. All in all, Chris Cuthbert's world is a pretty good place to live.

Sun Media: What do you think about the state of the CFL in 2007?

Cuthbert: They've had three consecutive sellouts in Winnipeg, we've seen sellouts in Regina. We were in Edmonton a couple of weeks back and they had 46,000 out. The league's in better shape than it's been in quite some time. There's nothing like having people at the stadium. A few games felt like they had Labour Day excitement already. I'm excited about this year. I think we're at the point where it's hard to predict the outcomes. The league balance is pretty good.

Sun Media: The Grey Cup is coming to TSN in 2008. How excited are you about getting to call the game again?

Cuthbert: I'm excited for our crew. They paid a lot of dues over the years to get that payoff. You can feel the excitement among the guys who haven't done a Grey Cup before. But we have to remind ourselves there's still a year to go. For me, it'll be exciting to get that opportunity again. I wasn't sure, a few years ago, that I would get the chance to call another Grey Cup. It is special to me. We're like the players. You want to be a part of the post-season. It's the best time to be playing or covering the games.

Sun Media: What was it like watching last year's Grey Cup as a spectator?

Cuthbert: It's the first time I watched the game on TV since about '89. I didn't see the point of going there for the weekend. I enjoyed watching from the stands for first year (in 2005), but I was quite content to watch from home with my family. I called every game (for CBC) from 1996-2004, so it was easier to watch at home than from the stands.

Sun Media: Tell us something about Glen Suitor that nobody might know.

Cuthbert: He's the best singer on the crew. Glen's got a bit of an entertainer in his family -- they'll all very gifted musically. His kids will be Canadian Idol stars before it's over. I think he'd rather be a country singer. He'll take his guitar on the road with him. I think he's an exceptional broadcaster, and he could be successful broadcasting other sports. Not that I want to give him my job, but he's one of the few colour guys on Canadian TV who could move across and do play-by-play.

Sun Media: You're commissioner of the CFL for a day. What changes might you make to the current structure of the league?

Cuthbert: I'd work on the schedule a bit. I'm not huge on the back-to-back games -- there's too many of them. I love the Labour Day back-to-backs but beyond that, I wouldn't go much further. I'm not one to criticize them, but we do need better officiating. It's been a problem this year. I don't know the answer to it, but maybe we need to develop new officials or work more with the officials we have on getting better.

Sun Media: How important is it for the CFL to put a team back in Ottawa?

Cuthbert: Right now, the league is more economically viable than it's ever been. I'm an old Ottawa fan, and I'd love to see them go back. But until it's the right ownership and they're prepared to do it the right way, they shouldn't. The league doesn't need it and Ottawa doesn't deserve that. It's a Catch-22. The league would be better off with extra teams, but they might jeopardize the welfare of the other eight if it's not perfect.

Sun Media: Assuming Ottawa returns to the league someday, where would be the best place for a 10th CFL team?

Cuthbert: Quebec City could make a pretty good case for it, and that might strengthen the Montreal franchise further. I don't know if Halifax is the right place for a 10th team. You need the right stadium, the right commitment from ownership and the potential to draw 25,000 on a regular basis.

- QUICK HITS - QUICK HITS -

Q: Favourite CFL team growing up?

A: Ottawa Rough Riders. I was a Russ Jackson, Ronnie Stewart and Whit Tucker guy, for sure. I lived and died with them.

Q: Favourite place to work a game?

A: Probably in Vancouver. It's such a great city, and B.C. Place has the best broadcast location for sightlines and being close to the field. I do enjoy the atmosphere at Mosaic Stadium (in Regina).

Q: A favourite CFL broadcast moment?

A: I loved being at Canad Inns Stadium (in Winnipeg) when Milt Stegall set the all-time touchdown record. I said afterward that was my all-time favourite regular-season game to do.

Q: Last book you've read?

A: I'm finishing up The Lay of the Land by Richard Ford, who's one of my favourite authors.

Q: Last movie you saw?

A: The Bourne Ultimatum is the next movie I want to see. But the last one I saw ... Deja Vu, which I'd have to say probably wasn't one of Denzel Washington's best.

Q: Favourite non-sports TV show?

A: 24. In our home, it's the only show all four of us watch religiously.


Videos

Photos