The voice of the Canadian Football League wanted to become the voice of the National Hockey League in Canada much sooner than actually happened.
Veteran play-by-play man Chris Cuthbert tried to leave TSN for Sportsnet multiple times before it actually happened in June 2020.
“When Rogers locked up national NHL rights for 12 years (in 2013), I inquired about a move, but the people running the network back then (Keith Pelley, Scott Moore) weren’t interested. With a different group in charge, I had more discussions three years ago, and there was mutual interest. But, I couldn’t get out of my contract with TSN,” Cuthbert told Howard Berger.
“Which wasn’t terribly disappointing because I had the CFL gig and Bell had half the regional rights for mid-week Leafs games. But, I did think a return to Hockey Night may not be in the cards. When my contract was coming to an end last summer, I was about to turn 63 and I got in touch with Rogers once more. They said that if my deal with Bell was up, there would still be something for me. So, I made the move.”
Cuthbert joined TSN in June 2005 as play-by-play announcer for the CFL on TSN and the three-letter network’s hockey coverage. He called 16 Grey Cups while at TSN, his last the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ triumph in November 2019.
“As much as I enjoyed calling CFL games, it was always my goal to return to Hockey Night In Canada. Early in my career at CBC, I had met and worked with people like Danny Gallivan, Don Wittman and Dan Kelly,” Cuthbert said.
“I kind of edged my way up the ladder and thought that maybe I had a chance to step in for Bob Cole somewhere down the line. But, CBC terminated me (in February 2005), so I joined TSN.”
The 63-year-old started his broadcast career in 1979 and has called CFL and NHL games for many years along with various Olympic sports. Among his most memorable and career-defining calls is Sidney Crosby’s ‘golden goal’ from the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
Cuthbert is a five-time Canadian Screen Award (formerly Gemini) winner for his broadcasting work as well as a Sports Media Canada Broadcaster of the Year honouree. He was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in the media wing in 2014.