Top 10 NHL games on national TV this winter

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:26 PM ET

Everything Jets seems to be making money right now.

Their season tickets sold out in minutes. The new Winnipeg jerseys are the hottest items in the National Hockey League at the moment.

And you can bet that despite the controversy surrounding their broadcasts, the TSN Jets channel will be picked up by plenty of households willing to shell out some cash to their local provider.

The controversy surrounds the fact the new team's "regional" games -- available to viewers in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Nunavut, NWT and parts of northwestern Ontario -- are actually available only via a pay channel.

So for fans who missed out on tickets and want to watch their favourite team play on the tube, it'll cost them $9.95 a month through Shaw cable or MTS TV to pick up the specialty station, which will broadcast more than 60 games this season. It's a money-motivated move, and in this case, it's hard to figure out who the bad guy is. TSN can argue it is making all these games available and it's the carriers charging the viewers.

Fans of the Calgary Flames, the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Vancouver Canucks, the Ottawa Senators, the Montreal Canadiens and the Edmonton Oilers have it easy now.

But with the TSN deal with the Jets inked for a full decade, don't be surprised if Sportsnet takes another look at how it operates.

A VOTE FOR HOCKEY

Have to love the fact CBC decided to roll with a mid-week version of Hockey Night in Canada in Ontario to kick off the NHL season rather than live coverage of the provincial election. For all of you who prefer politics with a side of hockey, you'll get a few updates, but the Montreal Canadiens vs. Toronto Maple Leafs and the Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Vancouver Canucks take precedence.

Even better news is the thought Sidney Crosby could be making his debut much earlier than anticipated.

FULL OF PERSONALITY

Marc Crawford mixed col-our commentary and other on-air duties on CBC in between coaching gigs in the NHL.

But he jumped ship to TSN this fall, as the analyst scene has shift. Crawford isn't the most-loved hockey guy on TV -- as much for his style and speech as the fact he's still connected to the Todd Bertuzzi/Steve Moore incident that hits civil court in 2012 -- but CBC has made additions to its wide-ranging coverage team.

Gord Stellick has been brought in to be host of the HNIC radio show on Sirius, while Andi Petrillo joins P.J. Stock as co-host of the Game Day show setting up the night's action.

With the Jets coming aboard, CBC had to bulk up for the more than 20 broadcasts it is doing involving the country's newest team.

So CBC added David Amber as a rinkside reporter, and Rick Ball (play-by-play) and Daryl Reaugh (colour commentary) as Western-Canada-based personalities.

steve.macfarlane@sunmedia.ca

Twitter.com/SUNMacfarlane

---

#1 Canadiens at Maple Leafs; Penguins at Canucks, Oct. 6, 5 p.m. and 8 p.m., CBC

If you're tuning in to one of the opening night games, this doubleheader might seem like an easy call in the East -- a classic rivalry between the Habs and the Leafs. But even though Sidney Crosby won't suit up for the Pens, plenty will tune into the late game, too.

#2 Rangersvs. Kings, Oct. 7, 11 a.m., TSN

It's always interesting to see how NHL games are received overseas. But on top of that element of this broadcast from Stockholm, Sweden, is the fact these two teams were extremely active this summer. The Rangers debut top free-agent Brad Richards, while Mike Richards makes his debut with the Kings.

#3 Jets at Coyotes, Oct. 15, 5 p.m., CBC

There's something awesome about the idea of watching the old Jets (the Coyotes) playing the new Jets (formerly the Atlanta Thrashers) after all the drama surrounding the Phoenix-to-Winnipeg relocation talk the past few years. This game might prove that things worked out for the best.

#4 Flyers at Jets, Nov. 19, 1 p.m., CBC

Welcome to Winnipeg, Bryz. Remember the harsh words goalie Ilya Bryzgalov had regarding Winnipeg's (harsh) climate? This is the Jets fans' first chance to let him know how they feel about his snub this summer. It kicks off a tripleheader on CBC.

#5 Red Wings at Bruins, Nov. 25, 1 p.m., NBC and TSN

Every season, we wonder whether the Detroit Red Wings are destined take a step back. Never seems to happen. Watching them play the defending Stanley Cup champs in late November should be a marquee matchup.

#6 Rangers at Flyers, Jan. 2, 1 p.m., CBC

The Winter Classic continues, this time in Philly at Citizens Bank Park. By the time you finish watching the lead-up on HBO's 24/7, you'll have to tune in to the only outdoor game in the NHL this season.

#7 NHL all-star skills competition and game, Jan. 28-29, CBC

I know some of you are groaning right now, but the NHL is making an effort to inject excitement into the event. It took steps toward becoming watchable last year, and it could be even more so this winter in Ottawa with attention turning to the game's young stars.

#8 Hockey Day in Canada, Feb. 11, 2 p.m., 7 p.m., 10 p.m., CBC

The Jets are in Pittsburgh, and the Senators are home to the Oilers in the afternoon games. The night schedule starts with the Canadiens in Toronto, and the nightcap features the Flames inviting their rival Canucks to the Saddledome.

#9 Blackhawks at Canucks, March 21, 8 p.m., TSN

The playoffs are just around the corner, and these teams seem to build on their dislike for each other the deeper we get into each season. Who knows whether we'll be lucky enough to see them battle in another seven-game series, so enjoy this one just in case.

#10 Flyers at Penguins, April 1, 7:30 p.m., NBC

Pens fans might have thought it was an April Fool's joke when Jaromir Jagr decided to sign with their cross-state rivals this summer when an offer from his former club was on the table. Should be a good battle on a network that gives you a break from the norm.


Videos

Photos