If anyone is curious, Jim Hughson's CBC contract ends one season after CBC's national broadcasting contract does.
At first I was resistant to seeing TSN get the national rights, but they have improved the last couple seasons while CBC has gotten worse. I like Gord Miller's call, love Ferraro, am amused by Maguire, don't care much for Cuthbert but I know I'm in the minority on that, and I think the Panel is the best in the business. Bob McKenzie seems to be the most connected hockey writer in the business, and has a ton of credibility. Hughson is still the best in the game, Bob Cole probably second-best, but the drop-off is steep after that and the panel stinks. I actually miss Hrudey's Behind the Mask segment, he really gave awesome firsthand insight into his playing days. To replace that with 7 hours of Ron Maclean, Milbury, and PJ frickin Stock is a travesty.
But the main thing I'd like to see is improved national coverage of hockey worth watching. Sorry, but the Leafs are not important anymore. They can't go out and buy up any player they want, they're not very good, they're riding one of the longest active post-season droughts, they just. don't. matter. In spite of that, I would say that the Van-Tor game was probably the best HNIC game of the year so far, but that doesn't hold a candle to Van-Det in December or Van-Bos in January.
I watch the NBC national games quite often, and I think they do a great job. They have a clear preference to big-market teams - Philly, Rangers, Chicago, Washington, Detroit - but they focus exclusively on the good teams. You're never going to see a Carolina-Islanders game, because they want to grow the game by showcasing good hockey. Unfortunately, the eastern Canadian teams have been so terrible the last couple years that the games have suffered, and that includes Montreal and Ottawa in a big way.
I think Pratt once aptly compared HNIC to Monday Night Football - you would never see a team that is the equivalent of the Leafs on the premiere national broadcast. That is what I would like to see, instead of rewarding Leafs for being shitty and in the biggest city by giving them the biggest exposure.