TORONTO — The Maple Leafs’ radio broadcast crew may call all 82 games from Toronto this season after the NHL club changed a travel policy over the summer.
Longtime play-by-play announcer Joe Bowen and analyst Jim Ralph call the games for all-sports radio stations Sportsnet 590 The Fan and TSN Radio 1050, who split the coverage in the market. Bowen and Ralph will staff all 41 home games at Air Canada Centre but will not be taking the team charter to the 41 road games.
“We can confirm that we had a change in policy this season in that team charters will be for the team and that there will be no members of the media or our broadcast crew accompanying us on flights,” Maple Leafs media relations director Steve Keogh said in an email.
A Toronto sports media blogger tweeted Sunday that the team was not willing to pay for travel costs, and a story link said the radio crew would call road games from a Toronto studio while watching on television. Bowen replied to the post on his Twitter feed.
“Unfortunately this is true. We will try to recreate the excitement and do the best we can,” he said.
According to Forbes, the Maple Leafs were worth US$1.3 billion in 2014, topping the list of most valuable NHL franchises for a ninth straight year.
The team has made several big changes since Brendan Shanahan was named president in April 2014. In addition to a number of roster moves, Mike Babcock was hired as head coach last spring and Lou Lamoriello was named general manager over the summer.
TSN is a division of Bell Media, which is part of BCE Inc. Sportsnet, meanwhile, is owned by Rogers Media, a division of Rogers Communications Inc. Bell and Rogers are competitors but they each hold a 37.5-per cent stake in Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment, which owns the NHL team.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether the radio stations would pay for the travel costs this season. A TSN spokesperson declined comment and a phone message left with a Rogers spokesperson wasn’t immediately returned.
The Maple Leafs will begin the regular season on Oct. 7 at Air Canada Centre against the Montreal Canadiens.
The Canadian Press