Saturday night and hockey, a.k.a. Hockey Night In Canada.
Even if you're not a sports fan, chances are that you know about this connection. It goes back to 1952. It's a tradition.
But sometimes traditions could use an update.
That's exactly what's happening tonight, Saturday April 24th. Because when the puck drops on the game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets, and later on when the Vancouver Canucks play the Ottawa Senators, the commentary won't just be in English. It will be in seven additional languages.
Arabic, Cantonese, German, Hindi, Mandarin, Tagalog, and Vietnamese. It's Hockey Night In Canada Multilingual Edition. What a great idea!
Bringing the game home
Though this isn't yet a permanent change, it isn't the first time that a big hockey game has been broadcast with commentary in a language other than English or French.
Back on May 24, 2008, a Sikh broadcaster named Harnarayan Singh made history when he called Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final between Pittsburgh and Detroit—the first done in his native language of Punjabi. The next season, in October 2008, Hockey Night In Punjabi was born. Slowly, it grew a loyal fanbase, giving thousands of people the chance to experience this Canadian tradition in their own language.
The Punjabi broadcast team grew, bringing in other voices to compliment Singh. Because while Singh is Sikh, people from many different religious and ethnic groups speak Punjabi, including Hindus and Muslims. Today, Hockey Night In Punjabi is a show whose voices are as diverse as the Punjab community it speaks to.
How will it grow?
Will we one day have a full-time Hockey Night In Mandarin? Or Arabic? It's tough to say right now, but the story of the Punjabi edition proves that it's possible. And the way the game is being presented is changing all the time.
Harnarayan Singh is now one of Hockey Night In Canada's biggest personalities, calling games in both Punjabi and English. Former Canadian Women's National Team stars Cassie Campbell-Pascall and Jennifer Botterill are breaking barriers for female broadcasters, too. They appear regularly as analysts (the people who break down events during a game with expert insights). In fact, one of Sportsnet's main broadcast teams is Singh and Campbell-Pascall.
Is there a new Singh or Botterill waiting to emerge from the seven broadcast teams waiting to call tonight's NHL teams? Only time will tell. But we hope that hockey continues to grow and change how it's heard by all of the fans—new and old—who tune into hockey every Saturday night!