Training Camp; A Note on LeafsTV


A quick note:

I’ll be attending the on-ice portions of training camp on the weekend. I’ll do a blog about the day that will be a little different from the traditional coverage. If you want to know what Grabovski said, or how Kaberle felt … well, there’s other outlets for that. Here, I’m hoping to provide a different outlook of the camp that doesn’t get touched upon by traditional coverage.

I’m focusing on the drills, player notes, line combinations among other traits. I’ll provide a layout of the drills and the such after each day.

I’ll also tweet from the drills and scrimmages. Follow along on @KatsHockey


I wanted to make a note on the coverage, as it seems to have become a hot button topic among a circle of friends. Most of them, probably like the rest of the fan world, don’t watch many games out of their favorite teams. They don’t watch Nashville and Minnesota games whose broadcasts are great, but there are few that deliver the type of coverage provided from the pre-game throught to the post game.

LeafsTV coverage begins with a countdown to puck drop that begins in the Buds dressing room and follows the team stepping out onto the ice and doesn’t leave the broadcast until the puck drops. There’s the interview with the coach prior to hitting the ice, and there aren’t any commercial breaks. Few teams, consistently add this unique feature to their broadcasts if at all.

There’s a dynamic between Joe Bowen regardless of the color analyst and even though the trademark ‘Holy Mackinaw’ may get played throughout the season, Bowen breathes life into the broadcast doing play-by-play, able to make even a boring game sound exciting. The frequency of adhoc information researched and related on the air takes a backseat to no other broadcasters.

Other media outlets do a good job and I enjoy a lot of various broadcast tandems, from Randy Moller’s movie references when the Panthers score a goal to Darren Pang’s ability to spot idiosyncrasies that make a difference in the structure of his analysis.

This season, LeafsTV will broadcast 12 regular season games, but the crew also does Rogers Sportsnet broadcasts where they will broadcast 29 games, while the network provides on-air talent. Joe Bowen is the only constant, doing play-by-play for all but TSN and CBC broadcasts.

Having seen him at the Rookie Tournament, I have a particular memory of LeafsTV color analyst, Bob ‘Big Daddy’ McGill that I’ll never forget.

A few years ago, I was doing a segment on XM live from Wayne Gretzkys restaurant in Toronto. McGill was on the air with the host doing a nice long segment, while I just watched. It was the first time I had ever met Big Daddy.

There were a lot of families and an extraodinary amount of kids running around. During commercials, Bob would talk to the kids and sign autographs, nice and friendly. During the final segment, of the broadcast, sitting alone in the makeshift bullpen, a high table next to the broadcast team, this little hand appeared and placed a plastic hockey stick on the table and with a little voice asking for my autograph.


Smiling ear to ear, I said, ‘I’m nobody, kid.’ Pointing to McGill, I told what couldn’t have been nnore than seven yearold that he’s the guy he wanted. The dissapointed look with eyes almost welled up in tears. So I signed the stick.

A huge swarm of kids surrounded me .. sticks in hand asking for my autograph while the adults thought, uh, who is this guy?

Amused at my only brush with celebrity – till then, and since – I signed as many as I could before they found their next target to devour when the original boy’s mother asked me if I’m a hockey player.

Told her, no. Then she looked at the hockey stick …

Signed, Che Guevara.

Try selling that on eBay, lady.

katshockey [at]