Hockey Night in Canada is the name given to the weekly broadcasting of hockey games on a Saturday night. It is Canada's longest-running TV program, and the show even has a Guinness World Record for being the globe's longest-running sports television program.
The importance of Hockey Night in Canada can't be understated. First broadcast as a radio show in 1923, Hockey Night in Canada gave the entire country the chance to tune in to the nation's favourite sport. It opened up a whole new avenue for fan engagement and went a long way to establishing the popularity and marketability of the game that we see today. Before long, the listenership for these radio broadcasts had reached nearly 2.5 million people.
On October 11, 1952, Hockey Night in Canada made its television debut on CBC and was originally only broadcast in French. The show soon made its English language debut a few weeks later, on November 1, 1952, showing a game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Boston Bruins.
The show's TV popularity was almost instantaneous. By 1954, 77% of television sets in Montreal were tuned in to Hockey Night in Canada on any given Saturday night when the Canadiens were playing.
The ratings have steadily climbed ever since. For nearly half a century now, Hockey Night in Canada has been the top-rated television broadcast in the country. The show has become a national brand almost as recognized and loved as Tim Horton's.
Hockey Night in Canada was also at the forefront of innovations in sports broadcasting. The show was perhaps the first to utilize the "instant replay" feature that was invented by George Retzlaff and refined by CBC member of staff Ty Lemberg. We often take the instant replay for granted now, but the idea of being able to go back and re-watch goals straight away was a massive innovation in broadcasting.
Hockey Night in Canada was also at the forefront of broadcasting sports in colour. This had a somewhat unexpected effect on the players. The lighting in the rinks was intensified to aid the television broadcasts, and players had to begin applying burnt cork to the area underneath their eyes to avoid the harsh glare of the ice under the new bright lights.
Hockey Night in Canada also puts an emphasis on accessibility. To date, the show has produced broadcasts in French, English, Italian, Tagalog, Mandarin, Punjabi, and the indigenous Canadian language of Inuktitut.
Hockey Night in Canada Live Stream
Hockey Night in Canada has come a long way since its humble beginnings as a radio broadcast. The show has been immensely popular on television, and now CBC has taken the step into live streaming.
You can view a hockey night live stream of every HNIC broadcast on your desktop by heading over this link and checking out the broadcast schedule for the week. You can also watch HNIC by downloading the CBC mobile app for iOS and Android.
Hockey Night in Canada has always been at the forefront of sports broadcasting in Canada. It introduced a whole new way for fans to follow their favourite teams, and it continues to adapt and evolve with current technology to keep every hockey fan firmly in the loop.
Don Cherry - The Original OG of Hockey Night in Canada
It's hard to talk about Hockey Night in Canada without talking about the divisive figure that is Don Cherry. Don Cherry has worked in nearly every role in professional hockey, but he's best known for his "coach's corner" segment on Hockey Night in Canada.
As a player, Cherry spent the vast majority of his career in the AHL, where he won the Calder Cup four times in 1960, 1965, 1966, and 1968. He retired from playing after 16 seasons in the AHL. In 1972, Cherry became the head coach of the AHL's Rochester Americans and won the Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award for the AHL's coach of the year in 1974.
After three seasons of coaching in the AHL, Cherry landed a job as the Boston Bruins head coach. His NHL coaching career got off to a flying start as he coached the Bruins to four consecutive first-place divisional finishes from 1975-1979. In 1976, he was awarded the Jack Adams Award and joined an illustrious club as one of the few coaches to be named coach of the year in both the NHL and the AHL.
Despite a successful coaching career, Don Cherry is best known for his work as a television pundit on Hockey Night in Canada. Until 2019, Cherry was the presenter of the HNIC intermission segment "Coach's Corner." The segment featured Cherry analyzing that day's game and discussing broader talking points across the NHL.
The segment was incredibly popular, and for some games, even drew higher viewing figures than the game itself. Cherry was also known for his intense Canadian patriotism and often found himself in hot water over his comments.
He was dismissed from Hockey Night in Canada in 2019 over comments he made concerning immigration. His firing was a hugely divisive issue, and there still remains a debate about his stance in the game and whether or not he should have been fired from the show.
He was inducted into the AHL hall of fame in 2019.