— Mitch Melnick (@HunterZThompson) September 19, 2014
John Bartlett, who has been the play-by-play voice of the Canadiens on TSN Radio 690 ever since the station won the rights to the team’s games in 2011, is leaving it to join Rogers as the play-by-play man on regional Canadiens games that will air on Rogers Sportsnet East and City Montreal.
TSN host Mitch Melnick confirmed Bartlett’s departure on Thursday. On Friday, Bartlett was interviewed on Melnick’s show (where a “gag order” prevented them from saying where he’s going, but it wasn’t difficult to put two and two together). Audio from that interview is posted here.
The decision to hire Bartlett, who was the voice of the Toronto Marlies AHL team before joining TSN 690 (more on his history here at YorkRegion.com), wasn’t unanimously praised at first, with all the talent at the station who would have loved to take a crack at the dream job and the bad optics of not only bringing in an import, but one who worked for the Toronto Maple Leafs’ farm team. But as Melnick explained on his show, Bartlett quickly earned the respect of staff and listeners who are now sad to see him go.
I met Bartlett only once. It was at a Canadian Women’s Hockey League game in Montreal. Just his presence there said a lot about how much this guy cares about hockey.
Thank you everyone for all the support and kind words. It's been a remarkable ride at @TSN690RadioMtl.Merci tout le monde pour les souvenirs
— John Bartlett (@BartsBytes) September 19, 2014
Bartlett thanked his colleagues at TSN 690, and the station’s listeners for “saving the station“, before saying goodbye with a “you’ll be seeing me around.”
The departure means that TSN 690 has to find a new play-by-play man for Canadiens games, and it has less than a month to do so before the season begins (and less than a week before preseason games).
“We’ve got some strong options to choose from,” TSN 690 Program Director Chris Bury tells me. The preseason games will be done by different play-by-play people. “We expect to have a final choice in time for the regular season.”
The job is posted here, in case you’re interested in applying.
UPDATE (Oct. 2): Sportsnet has made Bartlett’s hiring official. It also announced the hiring of former Hockey Night in Canada rinkside reporter David Amber, analyst Jason York and reporter Chantal Desjardins.
Amber was one of the few Hockey Night in Canada personalities not previously announced as a Sportsnet pickup. His hiring leaves only Andi Petrillo (NHL Network), Kevin Weekes (NHL Network), Mark Lee (laid off from CBC), Dean Brown (TSN Ottawa) and Mitch Peacock (CBC Winnipeg) as HNIC on-air talent that didn’t make the jump to Rogers.