SUN Hockey Pool

TSN puts McGuire in heart of action

ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:39 AM ET

Hockey's new view is about to try a rather different twist in Motown.

When Canadians tune into tonight's Buffalo Sabres-Detroit Red Wings telecast on TSN, they'll see play-by-play man Gord Miller in his customary spot high above the ice surface at Joe Louis Arena. But analyst Pierre McGuire won't be anywhere in sight.

Take a peek between the players' benches, though, and you'll find McGuire's perch for the night -- a location that's not exactly an unfamiliar one for the former Senators assistant coach, who worked from ice level as NBC's Inside The Glass reporter last season.

But McGuire won't just be a voice from afar tonight, adding the occasional interesting tidbits to the broadcast. Rather, he'll be the same energetic analyst viewers see every time they drop the puck on the NHL on TSN -- even if he's hundreds of feet away from Miller.

"I don't think it's ever been done before," TSN president Phil King said of the innovative two-man setup -- a split telecast, if you will. "We think it will (provide) better insight."

Miller and McGuire have easily worked more than 200 games together over the past three seasons. It's why the latter has no doubt tonight's experiment will hardly seem disjointed.

"Nothing changes," said McGuire. "Gord and I have done so many games together. We never look at each other, we don't use hand signals (to communicate). We sit close to one another, but we play off one another. It's going to work virtually the same way."

"The only weird thing for Gord," McGuire added with a laugh, "is not having me punch him (when he gets excited about a play) ... The key person in this whole thing will be Doug Walton, our producer. It's a huge change for him. (But) this will just bring more energy to the show."

McGuire has seen that up close and personal. Clearly, he's a fan of the rinkside analyst concept.

"You get to feel what the players are feeling, you get to feel what the coaching staffs are going through ... which you can't do when you're working in a sterile environment upstairs," he said.

What excites him most of all: A growing number of teams and players are buying into something McGuire believes can't do anything but help sell the game.

"Most coaches have been tremendous with it," he said. "The Edmonton Oilers have gone out of their way, whether it be Kevin Lowe or Craig McTavish -- they'll take the glass down by their bench so I can hear everything that's going on.

"(Ducks GM) Brian Burke allowed me to do a game on the bench in the playoffs between Colorado and Anaheim. There have been some people that have been really behind this ... I know Brian Burke has been a huge supporter of it. We need more progressive people like Brian and Kevin Lowe involved in this."

Count on TSN -- which also uses Glenn Healy as rinkside analyst on its regional Leaf games -- being a part of it, too.

"If it goes well, why wouldn't we keep doing it?" said King. "We want to bring the fans closer to the game when we can."

BACK IN THE SWING: Global and TSN both announced new PGA Tour deals yesterday. The big acquisition for TSN: The 2007 Presidents Cup in Montreal -- the first time the team matches will be played in Canada, and with a rare Tiger Woods sighting in these parts to boot. "That was the jewel (of a new four-year PGA deal)," said King. "We want to be all over that for four days. We're going to treat it like a major." TSN also grabs the first two rounds of the Canadian Open in an arrangement with The Golf Channel, which now owns rights to the first two rounds of all tour events. Global's key gains: The final two rounds of the Canadian Open (which air on CBS in the U.S.) and the Players' Championship.

THE NUMBERS GAME: All the hoopla surrounding Terrell Owens' return to Philadelphia paid off for Fox. Its Eagles-Cowboys game last Sunday posted a 13.9 Nielsen rating, the second-highest rated TV show in the U.S. last week behind only ABC's Grey's Anatomy ... CBC's audiences for its Thanksgiving Day CFL games were off sharply. Game 1 (Saskatchewan-Montreal) pulled in 448,000 viewers, down 33% from last year (673,000, Toronto-Edmonton). In Game 2, the Argos and Eskimos attracted an audience of 750,000, a 17% drop from 2005 (909,000, B.C.-Winnipeg).

AROUND THE DIAL: Mediaweek.com reports ABC is considering the possibility of airing NBA games on Saturday nights. Network executives have been impressed by the ratings gains -- about 3.6 million viewers -- college football telecasts have earned for ABC in that time slot so far this fall ... Ian Baker-Finch joins CBS Sports' golf crew starting in 2007. The former British Open champ follows Nick Faldo in jumping from ABC, which dropped out of the golf picture in the new PGA Tour contract.


Videos

Photos