On the media

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:18 AM ET

Hard to believe it's been only 25 years since Canada didn't have an all-sports television network.

An entire generation doesn't realize there was a time when highlights were only on the late local news, and if the CBC didn't cover your team, you didn't see it.

So with TSN celebrating its 25th anniversary with a cross-Canada tour, we honour them with a dose of their own medicine. Here are the top-10 influences from a quarter-century of TSN:

10. Sports talk radio on TV: Before Off The Record with Michael Lansberg debuted in September 1997, a full-time sports talk show on national Canadian airwaves was rare. It is now Canada's longest-running talk show.

9. Commentary from ice level: The 1-up, 1-down seemed like a gimmick, but now broadcasters in the U.S. have started experimenting with putting colour analysts closer to the action. Say what you want about Pierre McGuire's style, he gets a unique perspective from ice level.

8. Men can look good with red lips: There is a bit more to Darren Dutchyshen's legacy than his catch phrase 'Back-to-back jacks,' and that is his bright lips. When TSN was one of two specialty channels to go HD in 2003, Dutchie's lip shined a bit brighter. Dutchyshen is one of the country's most popular broadcasters and those lips have delivered some of the most memorable lines in recent history.

7. NHL trade deadline day: Without TSN (and later Sportsnet) going live for the countdown, there is no telling whether NHL teams would actually make as many moves as they do. It seems NHL general managers don't want to face the cameras and say they did nothing to improve their teams.

6. Top 10 list: There is a segment called Highlight of the Night during SportsCentre, but the real must-see is the Top 10. It's not an original idea, but since TSN is able to tap into ESPN's vast library, they have a wealth of interesting clips.

5. Monkey prognosticating: Talk about going out on top. Maggie the Monkey has retired from her gig as NHL playoff prognosticator after picking the Penguins to win last year's Stanley Cup.

4. Propping up the CFL: There was a time when the CFL didn't get its games onto TV until Labour Day, and then only selected outings each week were featured. When the CFL nearly died a few years ago, TSN was there to help it through.

3. Rescuing talent from CBC: When Chris Cuthbert was dumped by the broadcaster during the NHL lockout, TSN jumped at the chance to get the likeable play-by-play man. Cuthbert immediately went to work on NHL and CFL broadcasts. Brian Williams followed as TSN and CTV won the 20010 Olympic bid.

2. World juniors: Long before it became a holiday tradition, TSN sent crews to the annual hockey tournament in far off places. The event still doesn't resonate in the rest of the world, but TSN gave Canadians a reason to get up on Boxing Day morning.

1. The TSN Turning Point: It started as a simple part of live broadcasts and a way to recap the most important moment. It now gets used outside the sports world. Saying the words 'turning point' have become difficult without adding TSN to the phrase.

That's it. In the words of Vic Rauter, "Make the final," a win for The Sports Network. Congrats on 25 years.

IAN.BUSBY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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