Calgary Herald

WORLD JUNIORS ANOTHER BIG WIN FOR EDMONTON

TV reveals city at its best while tournament proves Edmonton can host huge events

- TERRY JONES tjones@postmedia.com Twitter: @byterryjon­es

It was a game that you'd figure most people would draw their drapes on if it was played in their backyard.

And it drew an average audience of 2.1 million people!

Canada's Boxing Day opener at the world junior hockey championsh­ip — that 16-2 eyesore win over the German team that had to play with 14 skaters due to nine players with positive coronaviru­s tests checking into the bubble — drew an astounding average television audience on TSN.

Because of the holidays, the TV “overnight” rating numbers weren't available until just after Team Canada extended its alltime record against Switzerlan­d to 25-0 with a 10-0 win Tuesday in a game that you might figure to have the TV ratings of the Shaw Cable fireplace.

“Two million viewers for a game in today's world is huge,” said Paul Graham, TSN'S vice-president and executive producer.

“We have great expectatio­ns based on that number for the entire tournament. We know the ratings will be consistent­ly good for Team Canada. Several countries have future stars of NHL Canadian teams like Ottawa draft pick Tim Stuetzle with Germany. He has been amazing. And here in Edmonton they'll be watching Sweden's captain Philip Broberg.

“Our signal goes to 12 counties and Sweden, Finland, Russia and

U.S.A. air every game. Our projection­s, even with the odd hours of the games in Europe, are now that the reach of this tournament will exceed 100 million viewers worldwide. The feedback from the nations taking the world feed has been super positive.”

The job being done by Team TSN, led by Graham, game producer Chris Edwards and play-by-play man Gord Miller — all Edmonton born and raised talents — along with Bob Mckenzie, James Duthie, Ray Ferraro, Craig Button, Dennis Beyak, Edmonton's Ryan Rishaug and the entire behind-the-camera team has been exceptiona­l.

“We have the best of the best when it comes to hockey crews and I would not hesitate to say our coverage here in the bubble is better than hockey at the Olympics,” said Graham.

And Edmonton is the big benefactor.

There were those who questioned the benefit of Edmonton, after the success of playing host to 81 games in the NHL'S Hub City bubble, going back to save the IIHF World Junior with a Hub City II event playing host to 32 more games here.

On Tuesday, the IIHF effectivel­y announced that now that they have all 10 teams safely in the Edmonton competitio­n bubble, they've conducted tests on 8,167 players, staff, game officials and have now joined the NHL in recording daily shutouts against COVID-19. On Tuesday, five of the nine German players who tested positive upon arrival were released from quarantine and have been allowed to rejoin the team.

The city clearly is scoring another triumph here. And we're not even to New Year's Eve yet and the quarter-final and medal

round games to follow.

Graham, you should know, is playing a huge role in this heading up not only TSN but the world feed for the IIHF as well. But considerin­g this edition is entirely a TV show being watched by everybody while self-isolating at home, they gave Edmonton a great Christmas present by gift-wrapping the games.

Perhaps you've noticed. Because he could, Graham — noting the effect of the “beauty shots” the people at Explore Edmonton provided the NHL for the Stanley Cup playoff games telecast out of here — believed it was possible to top that for the world junior telecasts to be shown throughout Europe and North America at the time of year that isn't normally a beauty shot season for the City of Champions & Championsh­ips.

He put together a plan led by senior director Andy Bouyoukos and cameraman Darryl Macdonald to produce about two hours worth of drone shots of the city to open the telecasts and use to come in and out from intermissi­ons and commercial breaks. They're simply spectacula­r. They focus on Rogers Place alone in the afternoon sun and throughout the day and are highlighte­d by sunset shots with the brilliantl­y coloured sky reflecting off the silver-sided contours of the arena and the reflective sides and windows of the Stantec Tower and JW Marriott. There are night shots with the venue bathed in spotlights with the skyline and the glimmering lights of the city in the background as the drone moves around the building and downtown Edmonton.

There's also morning-to-night skyline footage, much of it featuring the castle-like look of the Hotel Macdonald in the foreground. The night shots feature Christmas lights on the buildings and the changing colours of the Muttart Conservato­ry in the foreground, again from a variety of angles with dozens of drone trips past the new already iconic Walterdale Bridge.

As outstandin­g a job as the NHL did for Edmonton for the Stanley Cup telecasts with all those hours of daylight and the city's magnificen­t river valley to work with, this tops it. Better phrased, it completes it.

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