Leaving Sens TV broadcasts no easy call for Millen

ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:14 AM ET

As they grew from NHL doormats into Stanley Cup contender, the Senators became more than just a great story to Greg Millen.

They were like family.

No wonder, then, that Millen spoke wistfully yesterday about his decision to leave the team's broadcast crew for a new job with Leafs TV.

The former NHL goaltender's first job in television was with the Senators, as the game analyst in their woeful expansion season of 1992-93. He held the job ever since.

Until now.

"I've been in Ottawa since Day 1," said Millen yesterday as he spoke about his "very difficult decision" to leave the Senators' airwaves. "It's given me everything. It gave me a chance to be in the (broadcast) business. I'll never forget that.

"It's a special organization to me."

But in the end, family of a different sort -- Millen's own in Peterborough -- won out. The drive to the Air Canada Centre is a little more than an hour, or about one-third the time it took him to reach Kanata for Senators games.

"The family position on this was very strong," said Millen. "I was very grateful (the Senators) understood that."

Still, it wasn't until last week that Millen knew for sure that he'd be changing jobs. Leafs TV production boss John Shannon offered Millen a senior reporter/analyst job last Wednesday. They shook hands on the deal two days later.

Shannon is certainly familiar with Millen's work. They worked together twice on CBC's Hockey Night in Canada, and at the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics for CTV.

'LOTS OF OPPORTUNITY'

"We both like change and the ability to try new things. That was important," said Shannon. "There's lots of opportunity (at Leafs TV) for Greg to grow as a broadcaster."

Millen's duties for the digital channel (which isn't available in the Ottawa market) include analyst work on 13 game telecasts, and hosting/reporter work for the team's other weeknight games.

The arrangement allows for Millen to continue his work as an analyst on Saturday nights with CBC. He's slated to work mainly western games with Jim Hughson this year.

The toughest part of the move, Millen admitted, was the "horrible" timing of it. He was slated to work his first game for Rogers Sportsnet on Thanksgiving Day, a Sens home game vs. the Maple Leafs.

"That was the part of the decision I didn't like," said Millen.

"But sometimes opportunity knocks, and you never know if it will come back again."

Millen had two years left on his contract with Sportsnet, and details of a buyout are still being worked out, a network spokesman said. A decision on a replacement hasn't been made yet, though Team 1200 radio host and former NHLer Garry Galley appears to be a frontrunner.

Senators VP of broadcasting Jim Steel said he isn't concerned yet about finding a new analyst for the club's 20 local broadcasts on the A-Channel.

Its first game isn't until Oct. 27.

"We've got lots of time, especially in this business," said Steel.


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