While it's bad news for Senators fans that Garry Galley is leaving the team's Sportsnet broadcasts to join Hockey Night In Canada full-time, his replacement, Hall of Famer Denis Potvin, isn't too shabby.
You can kind of look at it like the Sens losing Anton Volchenkov but gaining Sergei Gonchar this summer. You lose a young guy in his prime but you gain an experienced vet who's going to bring another dimension to the broadcast booth.
Well, that's a tad corny, but you get my meaning.
If you've had the pleasure of having the NHL Centre Ice package (and the displeasure of having to pay Rogers Cable a fortune for it), you likely have seen at least a few Florida Panthers games over the years (then again, maybe not - even NHL diehards likely watch the Panthers as a last resort) and Potvin was always a calm voice of reason during those telecasts for the large part of a decade. He was also pretty good at the often moribund NHL Network and their dreary highlight show On The Fly.
It's going to be interesting to hear the kind of chemistry he creates with lead play-by-play man Dean Brown. While Galley was more bubbly than Potvin will ever be, it may actually improve the balance a little because Brown tends to act like a colour commentator half the time with his dry humour and elongated stories while Potvin is more old-school and laid back. It should work fairly well in my opinion.
With Potvin coming aboard, Ottawa remains blessed with likely the top group of hockey related TV and radio personalities in the country. I've lived in each of Canada's four biggest cities in the past 15 years and Ottawa's current lot is still the best in my opinion. Toronto may have the quantity, but not many as likable as the Sens crew.
The best, in no particular order:
Ian Mendes (Sportsnet): It's rare for a modern analyst to be fair to a fault and actively try to present the players point of view instead of being comfortably cynical in their approach, yet Mendes achieves this with ease.
Dean Brown (various): Who doesn't like Dean Brown? His jokes may be corny, but he can call a mean game and knows way more about the NHL than he lets on. He's been around so long that we tend to take him for granted, but he's one of the best in the league at what he does.
Dave "The Voice" Schreiber (Team 1200): He's in a league with legendary Sabres play-by-play man Rick Jeanneret in terms of excitement while calling a game. When the Senators score, even your grandma knows about it (actually my Granny watches every single Sens game and loves Chris Kelly!).
Gord Wilson (Team 1200): He's been here with Dean Brown since the first modern day Sens game and he's one of the best when he gets really wound up. Of all the guys who calls games in this town, he's the one you can most likely picture having a cold one while he does it. He comes across as just really loving the game and is worth the listen just for him calling a big scrap on the ice. He makes it sound like Ali vs Frasier every time.
Steve Lloyd (Team 1200): One half of the best radio show in town, the Healthy Scratches, and the host of the Sens pre-game show, Lloyd always seems equally comfortable holding court with big names like Bob McKenzie, jokesters like co-host Jason York, or the mixed bag of reporters who snipe at each other before Sens games on the Team 1200. I got on him a little last year for his non-stop coverage of "hits to the head", but he's probably the smartest of all the local hockey guys and is never boring to listen to.
Jason York (Team 1200): Who knew this dude would be so good? He doesn't seem to care too much and that's likely the secret of his success. He still has that player's locker room mentality where everyone gets a nickname and gets razzed a little bit. And then he'll come out with a totally reasonable and smart observation that only an ex-player could give the fans. I find he's almost always on the money with his analysis when he finds the time to give it. Don't underestimate Yorkie. He could go far and let's hope he doesn't ever change his laid back ways.
Honorable mention to John Rodenburg who seems to be a smart hockey guy but hosts a morning show that is traditionally more about comedy than sports.