Hockey Night returns to its roots

CRASH CAMERON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:37 AM ET

The most famous "show" in Canadian television history really started on the radio. Now, Hockey Night in Canada is back on radio.

On Oct. 1, HNIC debuts on satellite (Sirius, Ch. 122) with a two-hour drive-time show.

Host Jeff Marek isn't intimidated by working in the shadow of history.

"I got approached by Scott Moore at CBC Sports. He told me they were doing a show, an extension of Hockey Night In Canada, and would I be interested?"

Marek said. "Would I be interested?! Uh, let me think about that -- for about two seconds!"

One reason is that it's a new era. Once upon a time, FM radio was the domain of classical music. Then some Dr. Johnny Fever-types figured they could make some of that empty space their playground. Rock radio was born.

On satellite, rules are still being written, formats formed.

"It's still baby steps for satellite and there are obviously tremendous opportunities when you can kind of make up the rules yourself," Marek said.

"It will sound, in some ways, like a traditional sports talk show, but there are other things we will be able to do." (And without commercials!)

It's fresh ground, but is it oversaturated already? Again, Marek isn't worried.

"There's a lot competition," Marek said. "But there's a lot of appetite for hockey talk."

True enough.

And Marek, a Toronto kid, makes a promise. With rotating co-hosts Elliotte Friedman, Craig Simpson (an Ontario boy who has stayed out West) and Kelly Hrudey (an Edmonton kid who settled in Calgary) from the HNIC stable, it won't all be "centre of the universe" stuff.

"Yeah, pretty much everything revolves around us, right? Just ask us!" Marek said jokingly.

"We're centred in Toronto, but it's not going to be a Toronto-centric show. It will be the NHL, and particularly the six teams in Canada. It's not going to be all about the Toronto Maple Leafs."

NOSTALGIA DEPT.

September has seen some of the greatest hockey ever. (No, not pre-season.) After watching the excellent documentary, September 1972, a friend slipped me copies of the 1987 Canada Cup final.

It's impossible to recapture the circumstances and the drama surrounding the '72 epic. But '87 featured possibly the two most skilled teams ever assembled (in any sport) going high-tempo, all-out. Awesome.

The Russians had the Big Five: Larionov-Makarov-Krutov-Fetisov-Kasatonov. Get this power-play unit Mike Keenan threw out: Gretzky-Lemieux-Messier-Coffey-Bourque. Sick!

The final stat tells the tale: Three games, all ending in a 6-5 score ... On Sept. 30, ESPN Classic is showing another all-timer, the 1975 New Year's Eve game between the Soviet Red Army and the Montreal Canadiens.

CORRECTIONS DEPT.

In mentioning great baseball announcers working today, I said Jack Buck, not Joe Buck.

Jack was the old man.

Joe started in his footsteps (as voice of the St. Louis Cardinals), but does as much football on FOX now as baseball. Maybe too much, judging by the number of Buck-backlash websites.

FOOTY DEPT.

Game o' the week: Man United-Chelsea. Sunday, 11 a.m. ET on The Score.


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