- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 4, 2014

TORONTO (AP) - Rogers Communications is going to air 500 regular-season NHL games in Canada starting next season as part of its blockbuster 12-year agreement with the league.

Rogers revealed some of its plans at an event for advertisers on Tuesday at Maple Leaf Gardens. The company is trying to drum up excitement from the media buyers who will help pay off its hefty $5.2-billion investment.

Rogers says it will broadcast games across 13 different Canadian TV channels, including City, Sportsnet and cable channel FX Canada. What’s still unclear is whether longtime traditions like CBC’s “Coach’s Corner,” and its co-hosts Don Cherry and Ron MacLean, will be part of Rogers‘ programming umbrella.

“We’ve had some conversations (with them), but not full conversations,” Scott Moore, president of Rogers Sportsnet, said during a media conference after the presentation.

“We will be in a position to announce all our hockey commentators by early May.”

Executives kept the focus on plans for Rogers to expand beyond “Hockey Night in Canada,” which will still play a major role with 130 games shown on Saturdays throughout the season.

Rogers hopes to build a loyal following around other weekly events like “Hometown Hockey,” airing Sunday nights on City. Hosted from different community rinks across the country, the series will feature profiles of NHL players, alongside a Canadian team’s game.

In total, more than 1,250 hours of nationally televised hockey will be broadcast, Rogers said.

“This is about giving our fans ways to take advantage of every opportunity to connect with our game,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said.

“We know that we’re with the right people, the right partner to evolve and even lead in terms of what the developments will be in sports and entertainment into the future.”

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