College games a super addition

ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 6:59 AM ET

Further signals from the broadcast industry that one might interpret as proof there won't be NHL games to view anytime soon:

- Rogers Cable is on the verge of shelving its NHL Centre Ice package for the season. Although Rogers says Centre Ice remains in its plans at the moment, a decision on the premium service's fate could come by the end of next week.

Centre Ice is perhaps the key component of the cable company's Super Sports Pak, which has just gained one notable addition: 350 NCAA football and basketball games.

The football portion (90 games) started this week. Basketball (men's and women's) launches Nov. 11.

While a Rogers spokesperson said the college fare "is not a substitute for hockey," the timing of that addition is certainly interesting.

Without them and the NHL, the Sports Pak would run on empty between the end of the NFL season and the startup of the 2005 major league baseball slate.

- Speaking of NCAA football ... it will soon be part of The Score's programming lineup. Ten U.S. college dates are on the schedule at the moment, with the first one Oct. 16 at 7 p.m. (a Big 12 matchup).

Of course, hockey fans know that should have been the first full Saturday of NHL regular-season games. Gotta do something to fill for those missing hockey highlights.

- TSN's press release of monthly highlights for November contains no mention of NHL games. Call me a pessimist, but the suspicion here is it'll be the same drill for December ... and beyond.

LOCKED-OUT FEELING: Count Ottawa businessman and former NHLer Brad Marsh among those boiling over with frustration about the current labour impasse. "For them not to be talking is an insult to me as a hockey fan and a former player," Marsh said Wednesday during a panel discussion on Rogers Television's Talk Ottawa. "It infuriates me to no end." You're not alone, Brad.

RAP-PING IT UP: Hockey's loss appears to be the Toronto Raptors' gain. All 82 of the NBA team's games in the coming season will be available to Ottawa viewers. Rogers Sportsnet is airing 35 of them, while TSN and The Score each have 20 dates. Look for TSN to pick up the remaining seven contests to replace lost NHL games.

AROUND THE DIAL: One of our favourites returns to The Team 1200 tonight. The Buzz on Junior Hockey's season debut airs at 6 p.m. Your hosts each Friday are Dave Gross and Tim "Buzz" Kilpatrick ... CBC is offering a replay of the World Cup of Hockey final tomorrow at 4 p.m. ... An enjoyable addition to The Score's Saturday lineup, at least in this corner -- ESPN College GameDay, a 90-minute football table setter that airs at 10:30 a.m. ... Raptors NBA TV has added 44 Monday night NCAA basketball games to its schedule. It tips off Nov. 15.


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