KELOWNA, British Columbia — Anyone who doubts hockey’s influence in Canada should look no further than Harnarayan Singh.
The 28-year-old journalist offers an entirely new outlook on the nation’s national winter sport with CBC’s “Hockey Night in Canada,” providing play-by-play in the Punjabi language.
It is part of the television broadcaster’s larger push to attract more viewers from all walks of life as Canada continues to become more multicultural.
“Hockey is such a large part of our country’s culture and we’re very happy to continue to offer our national sport to even more of Canada’s diverse population on its biggest stage each week,” CBC executive Julie Bristow said online.
CBC cites statistics that say Punjabi is the fourth most popular language in Canada. The national, public broadcaster recruited Singh and two other Sikhs to call two NHL games every Saturday night.
The Punjabi broadcast took hold in the community after a brief experiment a couple of seasons ago that also included Mandarin Chinese.
Fans can watch hockey with Singh at the helm on specialty, satellite TV stations in Canada and also stream the broadcast online.
It’s uniquely Canadian when you see two finely turbaned broadcasters peppering their Punjabi commentary with English words like “power play.”
It recently caught the attention of The New York Times, which published an in-depth feature on Singh.
Singh told The Times that hockey provided a bridge for him as a boy to his classmates while he was a student in Calgary, Alberta.
“I wore hockey shirts,” Singh said in the article, “because then I didn’t have to answer, ‘What is that thing on your head?’”