CBC cites lack of sponsorship behind decision
Harnarayan Singh was living the life he always wanted.
A mortgage broker by day, Singh sat perched high above NHL rinks, calling CBC's Hockey Night in Canada in Punjabi at night.
"It was amazing," he said. "Hockey is something that I've loved ever since I was a kid and being able to be the voice for the games was a dream come true."
Unfortunately, it all came crashing to a halt when CBC announced they were canceling the show, citing the lack of a sponsor to help pick up the bill.
"This season we are unable to secure a sponsor for this section of Hockey Night In Canada, and are unable to offset the production cost for this initiative on our own," CBC spokesman Chris Ball wrote in an email.
"However, if we are able to secure a sponsor we will bring it back."
Singh said he still believes it was a sad ending for a show that helped bring hockey to the masses.
"It really helped the (Punjabi) community feel more Canadian and helped them relate to Canadian culture because hockey is such a fixture of Canada," he said.
In 2008, CBC started the broadcast during the Stanley Cup final between the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins.
The support for the show grew over the next three years before being temporarily cancelled last October.
However, Singh said the backlash from fans helped CBC decide to bring the show back to finish off last season.
"A lot of people probably thought they were through this and could move on," he said, adding there were a number of letters to MLAs and MPs trying to bring back the show.
Unfortunately, the show is back in its original position – off the airwaves.
"Broadcasting games in Punjabi was a great experience that the entire Hockey Night in Canada team was very proud of," wrote Ball. "Each broadcast was another opportunity for us to all celebrate two of the Canada's strengths, our cultural diversity and our shared passion for hockey and we will continue to be open to opportunities in the future to do broadcasts in additional languages, if there is interest and we are able to finance it."
Singh said the broadcasts helped the game grow across the Punjabi community, saying he heard stories of Punjabi parents enrolling their children in hockey after finally understanding the game on the CBC.
As well, he believed it helped bridge the gaps between generations.
"This broadcast brought three generations together in a living room watching hockey," he said.
Vinnie Muchalla, a Mount Royal Cougars hockey player of Indian descent echoed the statement that his grandparents face difficulty not being bilingual.
"In the end, the cancellation of the programming is going to affect the people who just moved here and had one form of TV that they could understand and now they don't," he said.
Overall, he said he was shocked over the cancellation, especially with the growing popularity for hockey and an Indian hockey player playing for the Vancouver Canucks in Manny Malholtra.
Todd Millar, the president for Hockey Calgary, believes the game is growing among new Canadians in Calgary, with the Punjabi HNIC only helping hockey.
"Any time you have an opportunity to continue to promote our game in the various ethnic groups, I think it is a positive," he said.
- By Bryce Forbes and Kirsten Glowa