All six Canadian NHL teams will be in action Saturday as part of Tim Horton's Hockey Day In Canada.
CBC and the NHL Network (U.S.) will televise all three games, beginning at 2 p.m. ET when the Ottawa Senators host the Montreal Canadiens. The spotlight shifts to Toronto at 7 p.m. ET when the Maple Leafs host the Vancouver Canucks, and the show concludes with the Calgary Flames hosting the Edmonton Oilers at 10 p.m. ET.
The games have an important bearing on NHL standings. The Flames entered Wednesday's games one point out of a Stanley Cup Playoff berth in the Western Conference, while the Canadiens are ninth in the East, despite having the same number of points as the four teams above them.
Stratford, Ont., has been chosen as the featured Canadian community for the 10th annual Hockey Day In Canada, which celebrates Canada's fascination with and passion for hockey. The southwestern Ontario community, on the banks of the Avon River, is famed for the annual Stratford Festival, an eclectic mix of plays by Shakespeare and others. "As You Like It" and "The Tempest" will share the festival stage with "Evita" and "Peter Pan" during the summer months.
Billed as Ontario's premier arts community, Stratford has embraced its designation as the nation's host city for Hockey Day In Canada. Actors Jesse Aaron Dwyre, Randy Hughson, Gordon S. Miller and Jonathan Purdon will lead a team of Stratford Shakespeare Festival actors against the festival's administrative and production staff in a game at the Allman Arena. Tip: Bet the stagehands, as they've been playing in a league all winter.
"We are so pleased to be participating in Hockey Day," said Festival General Director Antoni Cimolino. "Congratulations to Mayor Dan Mathieson and the entire team that worked with CBC to bring this high profile event to our wonderful city. What a fantastic way to bring the community together."
Ron MacLean and Don Cherry will broadcast from Allman Arena beginning at noon ET, and CBC and the NHL Network (U.S.) will carry 13 1/2 hours of hockey-related content, including the three NHL games.
Hometown hero Tim Taylor, a two-time Stanley Cup winner (1997 Red Wings, 2004 Lightning), is co-chair of Stratford's Hockey Day organizing committee, along with Mayor Mathieson.
Stratford's hockey roots trace to the "Stratford Streak," the late Howie Morenz, a three-time Stanley Cup winner with the Montreal Canadiens who also was the NHL's MVP three times. In 1950, the Canadian Press voted Morenz the best hockey player of the first half of the 20th Century.
Current NHL stars Rob Blake and Chris Pronger played for the Stratford Cullitons, a Junior B club that competes in the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League. NBC and Versus broadcaster Ed Olczyk is a former Cullitons captain. Other prominent Cullitons in the NHL have included Greg de Vries, Nelson Emerson, Dave Farrish, Bryan Smolinski and Garth Snow.
"We get to show off all the great people we have in Stratford, and all the people that have touched our lives in the hockey world that have come through," said Taylor, who also played for the Cullitons.
"We want to take Hockey Day to a new level -- that is our goal," Taylor told the CBC, noting that 300 volunteers have signed up. "We understand we're one of the biggest cities it has ever gone to and we're excited about it."