Regular viewers of the news on CTV Montreal were surprised, perhaps shocked, when they tuned in Tuesday night and learned that there would be no more local sportscast.
Host Paul Karwatsky made the announcement and said sportscasters Randy Tieman, Brian Wilde and Sean Coleman have all been fired.
“The way I look at it, I’ve started my retirement,” said Tieman. “I’m 63 years old and I’ve been here 34 years. My only regret is that I wasn’t able to do one last show to say goodbye.”
Tieman was fondly remembered by CBC veteran Tom Harrington, who recalled some encouraging words from Tieman shortly after arriving in Montreal.
“My first year in Montreal was the fall of 1983,” recalled Harrington. “The Canadiens were struggling and I asked Habs coach Bob Berry about his uncertain future and the growing choruses for him to be fired. He told me to eff off and kicked me and the handful of other reporters out of his office (yes, you could talk to the coach in his office in those days). After we got kicked out, some of the reporters were angry and started dissing me. Randy, who hardly knew me at all, came to my defence. I never forgot it and we became good friends. The decision to cut him is a sad one for one of the most passionate sports cities in the world.”
“I remember that incident,” said Tieman. “I told Tom that was the question everyone wanted to ask and he beat us to it.”
The decision to end the local sports segment is part of a national restructuring of the news package. Earlier this year, Bell Media shut down sports departments in Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Kitchener, Windsor and London, Ont.
“I figured it was coming when they asked me to come in, but I thought I would be the only one to go because I’m the old guy,” Tieman said. “Then I saw Coleman going in before me and I knew it was over for all of us. I feel sorry for Brian because he’s younger and I’m sure he’s not ready to retire.”
Wilde had taken a few days off and was driving back from the U.S. when he received the news.
‘It’s the nature of the business,” he said. “I’m sure I’ll land on my feet somewhere.”
Wilde, who covered the Canadiens, was respected by the players and his peers. He was active on social media with more than 25,000 Twitter followers and his always informative and provocative Call of the Wilde blog.
Sports had always been a major part of the local package going back to the days of Brian McFarlane, Dick Irvin and Ron Reusch.
There was a glimpse of the future Tuesday when the newscast featured a report on the Vegas Golden Knights by TSN Ottawa reporter Brent Wallace and a short note about tennis players Andy Murray and Toronto’s Milos Raonic losing in London. The old guys would have mentioned that Montrealer Eugenie Bouchard lost in Majorca.
Coleman admitted he was disappointed to lose his dream job, but was very thankful for the opportunity.