Interesting experiment by the CBC

Last week, the CBC and Bell Canada combined to provide one of the most interesting reality show ideas in a while.
Going along with “Canadian Idol” or “The Apprentice,” those programs meant to turn you into something different and change your life rather than just give you a big cheque or a new home, the two companies have devised “Making the Cut.”
Relying on the Canadian dream of playing hockey for a living, Scotty Bowman and Mike Keenan (described as two of the greatest coaches in the history of the game, though possibly a slight exaggeration when it comes to Keenan, in my opinion,) “Making the Cut” will tour Canada hosting training camps for unsigned players who want a chance to try out for an NHL team.
According to the series’ website, launched last Thursday at, 68 players will be selected from the training camps in Toronto, Winnipeg, Halifax, Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa, and Montreal starting at the end of this month.
After those 68 are whittled down to six, the final six will be given a chance to try out for one of six NHL teams (the Canadian ones). The final training camp, posted in italics on the series’ website, will include “mentors”—former players to provide “inspiration, guidance, and more than a few tricks of the trade . . .,” as well as strength and conditioning session, drills, and full-contact scrimmages.
The final 34 players (17 from the east and 17 from the west) will play a best-of-three series, East vs. West. Thirty-four then become 12, and 12 will become six.
The series will air on CBC in the fall and promises to give us an insider’s look at professional hockey. It seems brilliant.
You must be a Canadian citizen or an aboriginal living within the borders of Canada to try out. Anyone who fights during the tryout session will be disqualified and all competitors are required to wear CSA-approved equipment, including a proper helmet with at least a half-visor.
And, women are allowed to try out.
“The competition is open to everyone over 19 years of age [born before Jan. 1, 1985],” says the site.
It seems unlikely a female player will “make the cut” because no woman ever has before and this format is unlikely to really make that kind of progress.
They also invite recreational players without any age limit, but you can bet the younger guys who are playing in university will be the ones they carry with them to the show.
They are trying to build the Canadian dream here, but the players they choose should have at least a chance of being competitive with the actual pros.
The most beautiful thing: After all the tryout camps are done, those players who have made it to the finals will get a phone call to congratulate them—on July 1.
Now that’s good marketing.
It seems likely the show will be successful and it certainly will tell some interesting stories. A good deal of the Canadian population probably will know someone who goes to try out, or somebody who knows somebody who will try out.
The aim, as with most reality shows, is to get the viewer interested in the success or failure of the contestants. Some of these players will have sob stories about the time they missed the bus to the big city and ended up late for the big game that all the scouts were watching—and that was their only chance.
Some of them may have had the chance to try out before but got injured and couldn’t display their full potential and, no doubt, some of them will be just like you. That is the key.
The only hitch in this otherwise brilliant plan is the NHL and NHLPA.
Meetings to reach a new collective bargaining agreement still are underway with the players not bending on certain things (money) that the owners are insisting on. It is still in doubt whether there will be a league at all next season and if there is no league, who are these people going to try out for?
Locally, for those interested, the Winnipeg camp runs May 28-30, but pre-registration is required, including a $55 non-refundable fee, which is strangely payable to Molson Sports and Entertainment Inc., who are not listed anywhere else on the site.
The registration form requests details on applicants’ current situations as well as their hockey background. The best part is the scroll down window with pre-typed strengths and weaknesses to choose from.
“Skating is my main asset” or “Hockey sense. I have a great feel for the game.” Or “I have trouble with players who use intimidation as a means to winning.”
There already are waiting lists for all three dates in Montreal and Toronto, two of the three dates in Calgary, and the Sunday tryout in Ottawa. Thirty players are scheduled to try out on each day.

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