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Off the Top of My Head: Sports 1440 launches this week, the PWHL, and Bill Peters

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Robin Brownlee
7 months ago
I’m looking forward to the launch of Sports 1440 at 7 a.m. on Tuesday. I’m guessing many of you are likewise jacked about having a place to go for sports talk again thanks to Just A Game Productions, The Nation Network and Stingray Radio getting together and making it happen.
I know it’s going to be a buzz for Kevin Karius. He takes the first at-bat on Tuesday with the Kevin Karius Show from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Karius, who just spent 25 years working on the sports desk at Global TV and also spotted in to cover 75-80 Edmonton Oilers games over a span of seven seasons or so on 630 CHED with Rod Phillips, tells me he’s ready to rumble.
Karius, 56, is first up on a slate that will include Fantasy Frenzy with Connor Halley and Brandon Douglas from 11 a.m. to noon, The Lowdown with Lowetide hosted by Allan Mitchell from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. and The Jason Gregor Show from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. This line-up and an impressive roster of co-hosts and guests to go with it will fill the void created when Bell Media pulled the plug on TSN 1260 June 14.
“I’m beyond excited,” Karius told me during a chat leading into the weekend. “This is a chance for us to build something, a chance for us to add to the sports landscape here in Edmonton. We’ve only been subtracting . . . this is a chance to add, to build. That’s what’s exciting.”
Karius will be joined on Thursdays by former Oilers’ D-man Ladi Smid and on Fridays by former defensive lineman Eddie Steele, a Grey Cup winner in 2015 with Edmonton. Smid has a great sense of humor and Steele is a sharp guy, so they’ll bring different talents to the table with Karius. Sportsnet’s Mark Spector will be on twice a day – he’ll do a spot with Karius in the mornings and with Gregor during drive time.

TOUGH CROWD

I’m wondering if the newly-minted Professional Women’s Hockey League will get any traction and enjoy the long-term success we’ve yet to see from other women’s leagues when it takes to the ice with six teams in January to begin a 24-game season.
With 23-player rosters and a salary scale of $35,000-$80,000, the PWHL’s six teams will be based in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Boston, and New York in the U.S., and Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa in Canada. PWHL senior VP of hockey operations Jayna Hefford says while the league could expand down the road, the focus is getting established in these markets.
“We know there’s a lot of excitement in other markets and other markets that will be successful in the future when we get to a point to expand,” Hefford told the Associated Press Wednesday. “But right now, it was really about finding the right markets, period, and that’s how we came to these six.”
Fair enough, but with Minneapolis-St. Paul being the westernmost PWHL city and has a relatively small geographic footprint in Canada, how much buzz will there be in markets like Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Seattle, to name just six? Will it be a case of out-of-sight, out-of-mind? 
Even with a deep-pocketed investor like L.A. Dodgers co-owner Mark Walter bankrolling the venture, a 10-year business plan in place and Brian Burke involved as director of the PWHL Players’ Association, the pro sports market is a tough business. Is there enough interest in the women’s game to build a fanbase and make a go of it long term? I don’t know.
Unlike the WNBA, which is run and financed by the NBA, the PWHL isn’t tied financially to the NHL. As always, getting fans in the seats and eyeballs on the game by way of radio and TV will be the make-or-break bottom line. It will take more than insisting “the women deserve a place to play” to accomplish that. 
I hope the PWHL can make a go of it.

HURRICANES BLOW IT, BRING IN PETERS

Somebody help me understand why Bill Peters, who resigned in disgrace as head coach of the Calgary Flames in November 2019, is back behind the bench, this time with the Lethbridge Hurricanes of the WHL, for the 2023-24 season.
Despite the WHL releasing this statement about Peters, I’m not convinced. Neither is Akim Aliu, the target of racial slurs by Peters during the 2009-10 season. To this day, Peters has not apologized to Aliu, although Aliu did say another NHL coach reached out to him on behalf of Peters to broker an apology.
“Truth be told if I never said anything he would still be coaching in the NHL,” Aliu said. “I am all about second chances but only if they are sincere.”

THE NATION VACATION TO SEATTLE

Much like every time we’ve ever done a trip like this, our first-ever #NationVacation to Seattle is going to sell out quickly so you’ll want to get your spot locked in as soon as possible. Need some details on what’s going down? No problem:
  • When: November 10 – 12th
  • Where we’re staying: Four Points by Sheraton Downtown Seattle
  • What you get: Your flights, three nights at the hotel, a ticket to the hockey game (Edmonton vs. Seattle), and a ticket to the football game the very next day (Seattle vs. Washington).
  • How Much: The total cost for the trip, flight, hotel, and entry to the game is $1999 per person (based on double occupancy) 
  • Tickets: Ready to dive in? Click this link.

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