Hockey Night in Canada has been a Saturday night staple on CBC for 60 years, and it's hard to imagine it any other way. But following the 2013-2014 NHL season, the rights to the iconic program will be up for grabs, and you can be sure that both TSN and Sportsnet will take a crack at stealing away that piece of Canadian culture, just as the former did when it bought away the program's theme song - for the record, I like the new one better anyway.
HNIC has come under a lot of criticism - recently, and forever - especially when it comes to their panelists, with former players like Glenn Healey and PJ Stock receiving criticism for, well, not understanding hockey, despite having played it at the highest level. And then, of course, there's Don Cherry.
But there are some things that CBC does well, that no other network has been able to replicate. One of these is the preparation of video montages that air at the beginning of every broadcast, and that culminate in a special playoff montage following the Stanley Cup Finals each spring. The majority of these come from Tim Thompson, musical producer and director of the program, including this longer look back at the show's history.
HNIC also understands that viewers want to be able to experience the game as if they're right there in the arena, and have been innovators in pumping up crowd volume, and bringing us coverage of pre-game ceremonies, player introductions, and national anthems - we all want to hear Fix You pregame, whether we're there or not.
So, as we assess the various panels, the quality of coverage, and all of the other factors involved in bringing hockey on Saturday nights to the people of this country, the question must be asked. Do you want to see CBC keep these rights, or would you rather another network - likely TSN - get their chance? And if CBC does lose hockey, will you miss it?