With less than two months to go until the team plays its first game, the Abbotsford Canucks have yet to announce a radio partner and it’s unclear if they will do so.
The landscape of sports radio in the Lower Mainland and B.C. changed significantly when Bell Media shut down TSN 1040 back in February, leaving only one dedicated all-sports radio station in the province – Sportsnet 650.
However, it seems unlikely that Sportsnet 650 would pick up the Abbotsford Canucks for a number of reasons – firstly is that the station’s signal is weak in Abbotsford and farther east. That’s part of the reason why Rogers-owned Country 107.1 has carried Vancouver Canucks games since Sportsnet 650 acquired those rights.
The other factor is an already packed schedule on Sportsnet 650, as they cover every Vancouver Canucks and Vancouver Giants game already. This year that is 82 regular season games for the Canucks and 68 for the Giants, plus all of the playoff coverage (if needed) for both teams.
The News reached out to Country 107.1 to ask about their plans for this season, but they did not reply to an inquiry.
The station’s website still lists them as ‘the Valley’s home for the Vancouver Canucks’ and notes they air every game.
The News also reached out to Corus, who are responsible for programming on CKNW 980 and AM 730 and a representative stated Abbotsford Canucks coverage is not something they are currently considering.
Corus appears to be dipping its toes back into the water for sports coverage, as they are now the home of the BC Lions and the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Another possibility is Abbotsford’s CIVL 101.7, which carried the Abbotsford Heat’s final season back in 2013-14. CIVL is the University of the Fraser Valley’s campus and community radio station.
CIVL station manager Aaron Levy said he has not yet spoken to anyone with the Abbotsford Canucks, but said he would be interested in providing coverage if his stakeholders, volunteers and members believe it would be a good idea.
“Personally I’m interested, professionally I’m interested,” he said. “But do the UFV students want us to do that? Do our members, our volunteers, our stakeholders, our founders want us to do that? I don’t know, but that would be the deciding factor on whether or not we would make a pitch.”
He said the deal with the Heat was an important one and made CIVL the first-ever university-based radio station in Canada to carry a professional sports team. Levy said the deal to broadcast Heat games was huge for the station and also allowed them to coordinate a relationship that saw them provide Fraser Valley artists the chance to perform at home games.
“It gave us a promotional means to connect with students, which was very valuable to us at that time,” he said. “We wouldn’t have anything we have right now and it was so essential to us as a station. Ultimately, it’s one of the most important decisions I’ve ever made in my life.”
For the Heat broadcasts, CIVL would stream the audio of the AHL TV service. That service will be offered to fans of the Abbotsford Canucks, but there is a fee associated with it. CIVL’s airing of the audio would be free for listeners.
CIVL reaches all of Abbotsford and parts of Aldergrove and Mission. They will also be heard in Chilliwack on 92.3 FM by May 2023. That expansion was approved in 2019.
Other Canadian-based American Hockey League teams do have radio coverage of games including: the Belleville Senators (TSN1200), the Manitoba Moose (680 CJOB), Laval Rocket (TSN690) and Toronto Marlies (TSN1050). The Marlies also air every game on the Leafs Nation Network regional channel, with some games airing on TSN regionally.
Several teams in the Abbotsford Canucks Pacific Division also have radio deals including: the Bakersfield Condors (FOX Sports AM970), Colorado Eagles (99.9 FM) and Henderson Silver Knights (1230 KLAV).
The Ontario Reign, San Diego Gulls, San Jose Barracuda, Stockton Heat and Tucson Roadrunners all stream audio online.
Abbotsford Canucks games are not expected to air on television, as Postmedia reported yesterday. However all the games will be streamed on AHLTV – a pay subscription service that is included with season ticket packages.