Flames TV & Radio Teams Set

After weeks and weeks of rumours and heresay, our pals at Sportsnet made things official earlier yesterday with the announcements of their television and radio broadcast teams for Calgary Flames games.

The television team will feature Rick Ball and Kelly Hrudey, presumably for all regional games and the majority of national games involving the Flames. The radio team will have newcomer Derek Wills join Peter Loubardias for all regular season and pre-season contests.

A 20-year broadcasting veteran, Ball joins the Flames following a three-year tenure with Hockey Night in Canada and time as the radio voice of the Vancouver Canucks. Hrudey is a veteran colour analyst and joined the media ranks following a strong NHL career as a netminder. Ball and Hrudey are taking the place of the old team of Rob Kerr and Charlie Simmer. Without casting aspersions on their predecessors, I don’t think it’s controversial to say this new team is an upgrade. At worst, they’re a more experienced pairing. They notably called several Flames games in the 2013-14 season on Hockey Night in Canada, including that 8-1 whuppin’ of the Edmonton Oilers and the line-brawl game against the Vancouver Canucks.

Derek Wills joins the Sportsnet 960 crew after a lengthy 13-year tenure as the voice of the Hamilton Bulldog of the AHL. He joins Loubardias, who’s called a lot of hockey over the years and had great chemistry with Peter Maher last season. I’m hopeful Wills will be able to establish himself as different and distinct from Maher, because it’s gonna be tough sledding if he tries to be too similar to Maher.

In other news, three pre-season Flames games will be nationally televised!

  • September 24: Kraft Hockeyville game in Sylvan Lake vs. Arizona (Sportsnet 360)
  • September 25: vs. Vancouver (Sportsnet 360)
  • September 26: at Vancouver (Sportsnet One)

I don’t know why they’re television three pre-season games nationally, but I don’t make those decisions. I just enjoy the fact that we all get to see three more games for the prospects than we would otherwise.

  • For anyone who is unfamiliar with Rick Ball, let me tell you, he is great. The only way I’d be happier is if they’d given the job to Dean Brown. This will be the first good TV play by play guy we’ve had in YEARS.

    And I am unfamiliar with Derek Wills’s work, but he was the play by play guy for the Hamilton Bulldogs, and I have some pals who are Habs fans that would tune in for their games who speak pretty favourably about him, so that’s good.

    I promised myself I wouldn’t trash Loubo in this comment, so I’ll end this here

  • cunning_linguist

    Love Kelly Hrudey, and Rick Ball has really grown on me over the past few seasons. If Sportsnet can re-create the HNIC feel for every game I would be ecstatic. Can’t wait for the season to start, I miss that feeling of being excited all day at work knowing I have a Flames game to come home to at the end of the day…

    • used to be a bit of a laughing stock. fans of other teams would tune in on Gamecenter when they played the Flames and wonder who the clowns were that were calling the games.

      It’s hell when the broadcast crew of the team you love isn’t up to snuff. It’s not like there are two or three different stations you generally have access to that you can pick and choose your favourite one. There’s no competition, so you’re stuck with what you get. Kinda like the Flames on some nights

      • piscera.infada

        Every time I tuned into the old broadcast team, I felt fortunate it wasn’t Shorthouse/Shannon. You don’t know horrible until you’ve put up with years of that garbage (and Canucks hockey)!

      • PrairieStew

        Imagine back in the day when people from out of Calgary saw a game on 2 & 7 – “What? – the Stampede Wrestling Guy calls your hockey games?!”

        We can criticize the current or recent guys but lets roll back the clock here. Wailin Ed Whalen was a folksy guy with a bad toupee who seemed to be at home with the syndicated Canadian pro wrestling show “Stampede Wrestling” but seemed out of his league calling the NHL. He stuck around long enough to get a broadcast booth named after him though. He made more mistakes in one game than either Rob Kerr or Peter Loubardias made in a whole season. You think Loubo has distinctive voice – find some old Wailin Eddy tapes.

        Having said that – it was part of my youth and almost get goose bumps hearing his nasally voice in my head saying ” Hello hockey fans”

  • PrairieStew

    Over the last couple of years I have heard Ball a few times on HNIC and remember thinking and saying – this guy is good ! Hrudey is great; it should be an excellent team.

    Rob Kerr’s problem was that his brain moved faster than his mouth. He tried too hard to be iconic or distinctive and sometimes it came off as being overly cutesy. Sometimes his excitement got away from him and he made mistakes too. I think he is an insightful guy and is probably better suited as a radio show host.

    Good luck to the new guy Wills replacing Peter Mahrer who is worshiped in the Calgary market. By all account Peter is one of the nicest guys and hardest workers in the biz. For me though, I have always had trouble listening to Peter. He spent far too much time doing background while the play was going on ” here come Erik Cole out of the Stars zone, Cole, the former Oiler, Hab and Hurricane has been hot lately scoring 6 goals in his last 11 games has been a great addition for the Stars… now here’s Backlund with the puck behind the Stars net…” You have no idea what happened in those 7 seconds while he gives background. I listen to the radio because I can’t see the game Pete !

    • PrairieStew

      Wut? I thought Maher was great. He tried to put those facts in when nothing much was happening on the ice.

      After listening to the abysmal Pittsburgh and Boston radio crews, neither of which could describe the play at all other than mentioning players’ names, and who were mega-homers (the Boston color guy would lose his temper all the time… What a schmuck), I’m never complaining about our guys ever again.

      • PrairieStew

        From day one in 1981 I had that beef with Peter, sometimes I couldn’t tell if the play was still on cause he would go on for so long and when the whistle did blow he didn’t tell you. I think part of it came from the first color guy he worked with Doug Barkley was, well, less than articulate. I don’t think he prepared at all, didn’t know the players, had nothing insightful to share, prefaced every comment with ” I’ll tell you what Peter….” and would launch in to a story about when he played (briefly) with Gordie Howe.

        Pete was pretty much a homer too don’t ya think ” Ya Baby !!!”

        At least Pete didn’t say half wall 37 times a game !

  • Derzie

    Ball is a win. Hrudey is not very good. Was hoping against hope for Ray Ferraro. Knows hockey and shoots straight. Now we won’t know if the boys are keeping their feet moving without Charlie.

      • Derzie

        Yeah I was hoping for a trade :-). I am confused though with TSN pitching that they still have lorts of games. Was this a snowjob by the NHL where Rogers got all non-Ontario teams games and the TorontoSportsNetwork keeps the plum regional Leaf games?

    • PrairieStew


      I know my view on Pete not popular but its not personal. Obviously a great citizen of the City – and evident players and media like him. IMO his story telling style better suited to TV where detailed PBP not as critical.

      Can’t respect people who get personal and call Kerr a moron or constantly gripe at Loubardias for the way he sounds. Sure Loubo’s got a very distinct sound but its fantastically fun to mimic ! He’s prepared, thorough, enthusiastic and mostly error free. Whalen had that sound that was all his own as well that many people couldn’t get past – especially those who knew him only at the Stampede Wrestling guy. Can’t say Ed was error free – called the wrong guy all the time.

      When Danny Gallivan retired in Montreal – Dick Irvin took over as pbp on HNIC for Habs games, after years as host. Dick was very good, smooth, professional. My Grandfather, who never had a bad thing to say about hardly anyone his whole life, couldn’t stand to listen to Dick. I think it was because he viewed the Irvins ( Dick senior the coach and junior the broadcaster) as traitors to their Saskatchewan roots by going over to the Canadiens from the Leafs. Detroit maybe – Montreal never !!

      • T&A4Flames

        I don’t get the dislike for Loubo. His voice didn’t bother me but I guess I can see where some may get annoyed. But the dude is very very knowledgable, especially with the young players and prospects and his passion for the game, in his position, IMO, is unmatched. I also like that he will give his opinion at times as opposed to some who just stay politically correct all the time. Kerr, good on radio, sooooooo very bad on tv broadcasts. Simmer is a good guy but a change was certainly needed in his role.

        Hrudey will be good. I like his commentary. Aside from Friedman he was the only one that had intelligent stuff to say. I loved the time he ripped Bourque. He was totally on the mark.

    • Parallex

      Yes. He’s got his own show.

      Happy about Ball and Hrudey. Kind of wish we got someone instead of Millions doing the rinkside gig but whatevs I can live with having him still around.

      Not much a fan of Loubardias either but I rarely listen to the game on the radio anyways.

      Big upgrade overall.

  • SavardianSpinorama

    No love for Charlie Simmer? I thought he was a knowledgeable, soft-spoken colour man. I’d have rather had Charlie back than Kelly Hrudey, even though I think Hrudey is also good.

    As for Loubardias, he can be a bit overbearing at times, but his passion for the game can’t be denied. He’s also quite knowledgeable, he just needs to learn to tone it down and it would be an added bonus if he’d quit starting all his sentences with a, “To me . . . ”

  • PrairieStew

    As I do not have subscription TV service, the Fan960 has been my primary access to the Flames with a couple of games on CBC so this move really impacts me.
    I am thrilled that Loubo will still be on air! He will provide continuity from last season and out the 4 guys will have the most experience with the Flames (Still relevant even when rebuilding) due to guest hosting on the Fan at times and previously being involved with the Sportsnet TV broadcast.
    Hrudey will have the 2nd most team knowledge and getting the pair from CBC will have their own continuity.
    As Kerr has been on the early afternoon spot lately, I am wondering who will be hosting the pre-game and Hot Stove lounge sections, him or Steinberg? Both Great Choices.
    I thank all 3 outgoing guys for their coverage of the team in rough times.

  • Just listening to Derek Willis’s clip there. I can see why he was chosen. Although, I worry about the longevity of his vocal chords (not as natural sounding as Maher – seems a bit forced), he does have that excitement and energy that Peter bought every game. So with that being said it’s nice to know the radio broadcasts will be in safe hands for the future of Flames hockey.

    As for Ball and Hrudey nothing else that hasn’t been said. Hrudey in my opinion is one of the best colour analysts there is providing really great insight and useful information to the game compared to charlie’s constant “well yes Rob,” “needs to just shoot the puck more,” “moooar grit, Rob.” And Ball give an even keel call so Im okay with that.

    looking forward to the season ahead.

  • Moved here 15 yrs ago. Hated the Flames (was Oiler/Leafs/Bruins fan growing up in Ontario). Loved Bob Cole and Joe Bowen. But Maher got me into the game. He’s a classic. Eligence and knowledge. He didn’t tell you what’s going on, he expounded. He knew what he was doing and I didn’t find him overly a homer like Kerr. He had a great voice too. The new guys. On tv definate upgrade, just wish they didn’t get a Canuck to do it. On radio, definate downgrade. Listened to some of his calls, wow over does it. He’s one of these “new age” guys, no catch phrase, bad voice and pronounces out/about “ooot and aboot” which drives me nuts (my parents talk like that). Won’t be listening to many games this year.