With the stadium itself looming above on a frigid winter day, the truck is at once cozy but also more than a little tense. The production team works in a tight space, calling out camera angles and replays and graphics, in front of a wall of monitors that provide more than two dozen feeds.
During a break in the action of the Canada-USA game, they cut to a clip that was shot earlier that afternoon: TSN analyst Ray Ferraro trying out the makeshift outdoor rink. Ferraro, in suit pants and skates, snaps a wrist shot into the top corner.
The production truck erupts in shouts and cheers. The crew reacts like a tight-knit group, because circumstances have conspired to make them one. In conversations with various TSN people over a couple of days in Buffalo last week, the same phrase comes up again and again: they have created a monster.
Millions of Canadians — and hockey fans in Europe — will watch them do it. So, how did TSN create this beast? When TSN bought the rights to the world juniors before the tournament, it was the broadcasting equivalent of a speculative mining stock.
Games at the world juniors had rarely been shown live, and the only moment with which anyone was familiar was the brawl between Canada and the Soviets a few years earlier.
The Soviet team had to get new uniforms as the tournament went on, as the USSR had officially dissolved. The Commonwealth of Independent States still won gold.
In those early years, though, the tournament games were a rare bit of live television at that time of year on TSN. SportsCentre — then called SportsDesk — mostly showed year-in-review type stuff and canned highlight packages. By the end of that decade, TSN started to put its full might behind the tournament sending a much larger crew, making live world juniors content a big part of the daily news shows, and telling the stories of not just the Canadian team but the NHL prospects from different countries.
He points to the performance of Slovak goalie Denis Godla, who performed feats of magic in the bronze-medal game in Toronto. It was astounding.
Consider that it has for a decade now been the host broadcaster for the world juniors, even when they are played across the Atlantic Ocean. In that role, it is intimately involved in all aspects of the tournament, it makes all the decisions about television production, whether in Sweden or the Czech Republic or Canada, and provides the feeds that are used by international broadcasters.
Because TSN produces all 31 games, that means those networks can show their home team start to finish. Two years ago when Finland won gold in Helsinki, the reported television audience was 2.
Finland has a population of about 5.
In Canada, the games routinely draw average audiences of well over a million viewers, even when they are played overseas. The outdoor game averaged 2. Canadian captain Dillon Dube leads his team onto the ice for the third period of their world junior outdoor game against the U.
But, the same factors that have helped drive the growth of the WJC in Canada — the annual holiday schedule, with games taking place while extended families are at home and not at work — have helped drive it elsewhere.
When Canada scores, director Andy Bouyoukos calls out different camera angles to catch the reaction, then the celebration, then the American reaction, while producer Chris Edwards looks at the replay options that are collected by video operators behind a divider in the truck.
Within seconds he has a series of replays lined up.
Later, when Ferraro notices that a shot from before the game showed sunny conditions, he suggests comparing it to the current blizzard. By the time the minute-long commercial is over, the images are queued, and Ferraro narrates them coming out of the break.
One involving, it bears repeating, teenagers. You look at their faces, and they are just babies. But they leave everything out there. And I just love it.