Cassie suits up for two-way role on TV

ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:30 AM ET

They've gone to war over Olympic, World Cup soccer and curling rights, and figure to spar again soon enough over the NHL and CFL.

It's mighty clear, indeed, to those in the broadcast game that TSN and the CBC don't see eye to eye on a lot of things these days.

Well, here's one. Both networks see a budding broadcast talent in Cassie Campbell, the just-retired captain of the Canadian women's hockey team and a two-time Olympic gold medallist.

SIGNIFICANT PLAYER

The CBC and TSN both announced yesterday they plan to put Campbell into some rather significant TV roles. She'll work as a rinkside reporter on at least 13 games for Hockey Night in Canada, making her debut during the Oilers-Flames game in Calgary on Oct. 7.

Later, on Jan. 13, she'll join Ron MacLean and Don Cherry on site in Nelson, B.C., for the CBC's annual Hockey Day in Canada celebration.

"I was just blown out of the water with this (opportunity). I couldn't believe it," the 32-year-old Campbell told The Canadian Press.

While Joel Darling, Hockey Night in Canada's executive producer, believed it was important to add a female component to the broadcast -- it's a role both Brenda Irving and Martine Gaillard have held in the past -- that's not why he's bringing Campbell on board.

"Cassie's credentials in the game are second to none," he said. "We did an audition with her last week (during a pre-season game at the Air Canada Centre) ... We were really happy and surprised with what she could do."

Campbell admits she doesn't want to be looked upon as "the token woman" on the show.

"I know how hard I'm going to have to work in order to prove myself ... I want to bring more to the show than that," she said.

"I'm capable of doing it. I just have a lot to learn (and) I'm learning from the best."

ANALYST WORK

TSN has had its eye on Campbell since 2002, when it first gave her a shot at some analyst work on both its channel and the NHL Network.

Now she's back on board to work on women's hockey telecasts, including the Four Nations Cup and world championship. It's a role the network hopes she'll continue through the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and beyond.

"She's very well spoken and she's one of the most recognizable female athletes in the country," said TSN president Phil King. "She's a perfect fit for our women's hockey telecasts."

It's also why both networks are content -- at least for now -- to share Campbell's talents.

"She's not doing NHL hockey (for TSN). She's doing women's hockey," said Darling. "We support that ... it will add to her experience and make her a better broadcaster."

WELCOME TO HOCKEYVILLE: When Salmon River, N.S., won CBC's Hockeyville contest last spring, the grand prize was the opportunity to play host to an NHL exhibition game.

But the Senators-Canadiens contest, which was held earlier this week in nearby Truro, isn't the main focus of the network's one-hour Hockeyville finale, which airs Sunday at 7 p.m.

"It's more about Salmon River and the people who won the right to host this game," said MacLean, the host of Sunday's show.

That being said, MacLean said "all day long, the fever was really about the chance for them to rub shoulders with NHL players. It was totally refreshing and great to experience."

THE EXPERTS SAY ...: HNIC analyst Harry Neale isn't giving up on the Senators' hopes of winning the Stanley Cup. "For about the fifth year in a row," Neale is picking the Sens to reach the Cup final, though he quipped "I'm trying to repair my image in Ottawa." ... Wildest card prediction we've seen so far: Rogers Sportsnet's Ian Mendes likes the Atlanta Thrashers -- who've never even made the playoffs -- to hoist the Cup in June. "You read it here first," he said in a network press release. Of that, we have no doubt.

AROUND THE DIAL: You can't have an NHL season without preview shows. TSN offers up theirs on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., a 21/2 hour affair that includes the network debut of its newest analyst, Tie Domi ... Sportsnet tees up 2006-07 with a two-hour edition of HockeyCentral on Monday at 8 p.m. ... CBC has added the Jan. 2 Anaheim-Detroit game to its schedule. That's the night Nepean native Steve Yzerman will have his jersey retired at Joe Louis Arena ... CBC has inked an eight-year deal to carry Grand Slam of Curling events through 2014.


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