NHLDeal

Gary Bettman, Nadir Mohamed, and Keith Pelley yesterday in Toronto

Jeff Blair and his producers made the excellent choice this morning to have a brief exchange with Rogers Media president Keith Pelley, in order to get a statement from ownership themselves about whether and how the company’s new deal with the NHL, and their seeming “all-in” move when it comes to hockey in this country, will impact the Blue Jays.

You can hear the audio by way of a link currently at Fan590.com– or can go directly to the mp3 clip here– and while Pelley, frankly, says pretty much everything that you’d fully expect him to, it… uh… it sure feels good to hear him say it.

Here is a transcript of his comments:

Our commitment to sports has been unwavering. That has been something that we believe in, it is part of our DNA at Rogers Media, and at Rogers overall. So, if you actually look at what has transpired over the last number of years, we have bought theScore and re-branded it Sportsnet 360, we’ve bought 37% of MLSE, we invested in the Toronto Blue Jays from a players perspective, we invested from a promotional side and from the production side in the Blue Jays– we sent people down to training camp, and we did more pre-shows and more post-game shows than ever before. We’ve been aggressive in acquiring rights; buying the World Curling Tour; acquiring the Indy; acquiring the Tour de France; continuing to build our Sportsnet portfolio. And yesterday was obviously the pinnacle of all, acquiring the national rights exclusively for the next 12 years and now being the dominant sports player in Canada for the foreseeable future.

So what this means is, under no circumstance would we all of a sudden say, ‘Ah, we’ve spent all this money in hockey, we’re not going to invest in the Toronto Blue Jays.’ We’re committed to the Blue Jays– continue to be committed– and our goal is simple: we want to win the World Series. And you think about this: if we get an NHL team into the Stanley Cup Finals– preferably the Toronto Maple Leafs– broadcasting on all the networks, controlling all of that, while the Blue Jays were starting the season, and then watching that continue, and the momentum continuing right through? It would be spectacular.

So, if nothing else, people should look at it the other way, going, ‘They’re all-in on sports.’ We’ve said that we’re going to be Canada’s number one sports media brand– sports media leader– and we’ve demonstrated that in spades. And this is just another example of that. But it does not affect the Blue Jays’ payroll in any way whatsoever.

Asked about the possibility of a very crowded schedule for Rogers-owned stations when both the Jays are playing and the NHL is in full swing, Pelley dispelled any fears we might have on that, too:

We made the decision that we were going to show all 162 Blue Jay games; Sportsnet and Sportsnet One continue to grow, Sportsnet 360 is now in seven million homes, which is an option that you didn’t have before, and you also have CBC. If, in fact, we have a conflict– and we’ve already had this conversation with CBC– they are our preferred partner in all sports– so we even look at the Blue Jays on City, or on CBC.

Broad distribution for the NHL, providing as many games for fans as possible, while doing the exact same thing with the Blue Jays? That’s just– it’s exactly in our DNA to give the Canadian fans as much coverage as we possibly can of both hockey and the Blue Jays. We own the Blue Jays– 100% of them. We are everything Blue Jays. We made that commitment last year from a production and a programming perspective, and certainly I think that was some of the reason for of renewed interest in the team– that and spending the dollars, and the way that Paul and Alex have re-branded it, have certainly been a key part of it as well.

I think it was mostly the dollars, Keith, but whatever! That’s all pretty not bad, eh?

Now if only he could get this damn song out of my head (sung with his name instead, of course) we’d be golden!

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