What We Learned on 24CH: Putting on a Show [S3:E20]

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(Image source: screen capture)

by Erica, Staff Writer and Fundraising Specialist, All Habs Hockey Magazine

(Image source: screen capture)
(Image source: screen capture)

MONTREAL, QC. — This episode opening lacked narration, as narrator Claude Quenneville was scratched due to a vocal cord injury. Bell Centre announcer Michel Lacroix would take his spot in the lineup. For now, we are treated to a fast-paced, Aaron Sorkin style walk-and-talk with Donald Beauchamp, the Canadiens’ VP of Communications, who takes us through the halls of the Bell Centre and into the media lounge. Here’s what we learned:

The men behind the curtain. We meet some of the people responsible for putting together RDS’ gameday broadcasts and watch them as they turn a hockey game into a TV show. Producer Christian Leduc describes his job as telling a story as it happens – the outcome of each game is unknown, but RDS builds a broadcast around it as it happens. Director Stéphane Paquin constructs the broadcast from a visual point of view, choosing camera angles, players to follow, and ways to fill airtime. Statistician Michel Leblanc stays on top of game stats that are updated with every second of play. Paquin meets with local camera operators for every away game to discuss their angles and assignments. When the puck drops, the RDS team is like a well-oiled machine: watching the game so closely that they immediately know which plays to replay and how.

Pat Hickey is a journeyman. The Gazette’s veteran reporter, now in the 50th year of his career, fell into sports reporting simply because that’s the beat he was needed on. As a result, he’s seen some of the best seasons the Habs have played, and has kept writing through countless changes in the media landscape. He’s somewhat slow to type on his MacBook in the pressbox, hunting and pecking with one finger, but jokes that he types at the same speed that he thinks. Despite his typing speed, Hickey will file two stories on a game night: a game summary that he completes before heading down to the locker room at the final buzzer to get quotes for his postgame coverage. After a Habs win over the New Jersey Devils at home, Hickey drives to Burlington, Vermont, to get a head start on traveling to Boston for the next day’s game. Hickey famously refuses to fly to away games. He reveals that it is not because he is afraid of flying (as rumours have said) but because he hates airports and all the time wasted at customs and transferring flights. Even if he seems to show signs of slowing down, Hickey doesn’t look like he’ll stop anytime soon.

Broadcast journalism is all in a day’s work. And for veteran RDS reporter Chantal Machabée, those days can last up to 16 hours. On a typical Canadiens gameday, she’ll attend the team practice at 9:30, then visit the locker room and get some interviews, then attend Michel Therrien’s press conference, review all of that morning’s footage, and arrive at the Bell Centre around 3:00 PM. She has to be ready for pregame coverage at 6:00, reporting from the Bell Centre and conducting interviews during the players’ pregame skate. After that, she will settle into the RDS broadcast booth to watch the game, and then head to the locker room for postgame interviews. Machabée’s 31-year career has helped her to see the human side of hockey, which in turn has made her a better interviewer.

The two careers of Ron Fournier. The former hockey referee has put his powerful voice to good use in his second career as a radio host on Montreal’s French-language talk radio station, 98.5 FM. He has tremendously enjoyed both of his careers, and loves the personal, off-the-cuff nature of radio. Like his peers in television, he will watch the game from his broadcast booth at the Bell Centre and then immediately begin hosting his postgame show and taking callers.

Update on the Shiny Boxing Robe of Success. It’s been a while we saw everyone’s favourite bit of Habs paraphernalia, hasn’t it? The Robe made its 24CH return at the end of this episode, awarded to Nathan Beaulieu on February 14th. Beaulieu earned it as a reward for his fight Toronto‘s David Clarkson following a hit on Sergei Gonchar. Beaulieu immediately stood up for his teammate, and we learn that the defencemen have a solid mentor-student relationship. Gonchar has been using his experience to help condition Beaulieu, preparing him to turn his potential into a long and successful NHL career. As a result, Nathan Beaulieu knew he had to do something for Gonchar, and found the Robe hanging in his stall.

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