When Gord Cutler was named executive producer for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, he thought he had just signed on for the biggest job of his career.
Four years after that gig ended, he is now facing the biggest job in the history of Canadian sports.
Not only is he overseeing a $5.2 billion investment in the largest hockey television package ever, he is charged with making some pretty big changes in the way Canada's most important TV property is presented.
With only 32 weeks remaining to launch this titan of a ship, Cutler is focused on making sure that the new product is up to the quality that Canadians have come to expect. The new senior vice-president of NHL production is also focusing on putting together the right team to handle a project that will give Canadians the opportunity to watch more hockey than they've ever seen before.
But once that's achieved, his main goal will be to put the Rogers stamp on all of the nationally televised games, regardless of where they air.
That means that even though Hockey Night In Canada will air on CBC, it will look the same as the games airing on Sportsnet or Citytv or even FX Canada. And since Rogers is calling the shots, it's obvious Canada's longest-running hockey show will look a lot more like the existing Rogers product than the current CBC one.
"As time moves on, the shows will all have the same philosophy, a central Rogers hockey philosophy," says Cutler. "It won't happen right away, but Hockey Night will come under our new broadcast philosophy."
That philosophy will be something new, though in many ways it may resemble the way hockey was broadcast decades ago. There will be more emphasis on the players and less on the intricacies of the game.
"We will do more story-telling," Cutler says. ``I'll bring the philosophy we had during the Olympics hockey broadcasts.
"I don't think we do a good enough job telling stories. I think we do a massively intense job of analyzing and discussing the business of the game. I want us to do that when it's warranted, but I'd like to get our broadcasts back to being more focused on selling the stars of the game and their stories: why they're good, how they're good and what makes them tick.
"I'd like to see a little more balance in the broadcasts. I find they're almost all analysis nowadays and not a lot of story-telling. Instead of analyzing the game to death, we're going to take some of that time and shift it to more discussion and exploring of the stories on the ice."
Not surprisingly, Cutler's view is in lock step with that of Scott Moore, president of Sportsnet and NHL for Rogers Media. It may be one of the reasons he got the job.
Rogers hasn't adopted this philosophy to boost sagging ratings. After all, hockey is No. 1 in Canada by a long shot, which explains the high price tag. But one of its main aims to attract a new audience and, ideally, younger viewers.
"I don't think there have been as many superstars in the game as there are now and we really should do a better job of bringing them to the people," Cutler says. "We need to do a better job of trying to reaching a broader demographic and you do that by telling them about the people in the game."
Things are still in their formative stages, but there will be one noticeable change: a central studio show on Saturday nights that will serve as many as seven broadcasts. It will likely be something akin to the Sunday NFL panel shows and will feature personalities from Rogers and CBC.
Viewers could see Nick Kypreos sitting next to Don Cherry, assuming both survive the current hiring process.
His biggest challenge? "Time," Cutler says. "We've got our work cut out for us."