Thursday, February 24, 2005


CBC Cuts Cuthbert

I know the blogosphere (for lack of a better term) is chalk full of negativity and angst. It’s kind of hard to be when most of the news that gets reported these days is bad news.

Take the case of Chris Cuthbert, the best play-by-play man on the CBC (Hockey Night in Canada) and #2 man to Bob Cole. Cuthbert has been let go by the CBC in a move that is both puzzling and somehow logical. Many broadcasters and journalists have suffered cuts due to the lockout, and CBC had lost their biggest bread winner for the time being.

Steve Simmons delved more into the situation and echoes my thoughts on the baffling termination of Cuthbert:

What he (Cuthbert) never saw coming until he answered his front door Tuesday afternoon was a courier handing him an envelope informing him that his 21 years at the CBC had come to an end.

There was no phone call, no handshake, no thanks for the memories.

A cold and classless ending for one of the warm and truly admirable people in the Canadian broadcasting industry.
21 years and you get your pink slip by courier?

The two best reasons why Cuthbert is no longer at CBC Sports are 1) pettiness; and 2) budget cuts. Nancy Lee, the head of CBC Sports, apparently was not a fan. She let him know, more than once, that she didn't share the opinion of Cuthbert that most of the industry had.

And from the inside and not so quietly, Cuthbert was critical of some CBC Sports decisions. He believes they have all but ignored the National Hockey League lockout. He believes that the cancellation of their Hockey Day broadcast was a mistake. What he doesn't know now is whether he was a victim of trying to make CBC Sports better or simply of a salary cut for a department which needs to alter its economics.
I could understand the financial reasons for letting Cuthbert go, but they could have easily assigned him elsewhere! CBC Sports covers a bevy of different events (curling, skiing, etc) and Cuthbert would have made an excellent broadcaster for any of them.

Back in my ‘Masters of the Pic’ post, I declared Chris Cuthbert as the 2nd best play-by-play man in the industry. I’m not the only one who thinks highly of Cuthbert (See James Mirtle and Tom Benjamin)...

And since the news leaked out Tuesday afternoon, Cuthbert has spent almost all of his time on the telephone. Peter Mansbridge called and left a message. That meant something. The evil Bob Goodenow called to show he isn't always the evil Bob Goodenow.
The dream scenario, when the NHL returns, would be for TSN (The Sports Network) to get rid of Dave Randork’s not-yet-over-puberty voice and send Gord Miller back to hosting That’s Hockey. Cuthbert could take over the play-by-play duties for TSN and improve the quality of their broadcasts by well over 300%.

In the end, it's a rather poor decision handled in a rather poor way by the dunderhead chief of CBC Sports.

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