The Toronto Raptors on Thursday announced their 2021-22 broadcast schedule, which includes Sportsnet and TSN each carrying 41 games. However, the biggest news around the 82-game broadcast schedule was not about the when or where, but the who, as familiar face Leo Rautins won’t be back on TV.
While Rautins could be a bit of a divisive personality on the air given his commentating style, he’s been a fixture on Raptors broadcasts over the last few years, and the combination of him and Jack Armstrong has helped provide in-game analysis for years.
After 26 years working on Raptors games, Rautins has been replaced by former Raptors guard Alvin Williams on Sportsnet broadcasts. It appears as though they believed some new blood was needed, and Rautins’ experience was cast aside in favor of the insight provided by one of the best guards in club history.
Veteran play-by-play voice Matt Devlin is back for a 14th season, calling the action for both Sportsnet and TSN, while Armstrong returns as an analyst on TSN.
Rautins himself claimed that he will be moving over to TSN and will be helping out on broadcasts in some form or fashion, so he won’t be completely off of your television screens.
Rautins has been a fixture on this team’s broadcasts since their inaugural season in 1995-96. He was in the booth for the first game in franchise history on November 3, 1995, against the Nets at the SkyDome.
The 61-year-old native of Toronto is a prominent figure in Canadian basketball history and a member of the Canada Basketball Hall of Fame. In 1983, he became the first player from Canada selected in the opening round of the draft, when the Syracuse product was taken 17th overall by the Philadelphia 76ers.
From 2005 to 2011, Rautins served as head coach of the Canadian men’s national team.
Alvin Williams is the new analyst on Sportsnet Raptors broadcasts
Williams has become something of a Toronto fixture in his own right. He played 417 games over parts of nine seasons (1997-98 to 2005-06) with the Raptors, and ranks fourth all-time in franchise history with 1,791 assists and sixth with 517 steals.
In his post-playing career, Williams served as an assistant coach and later as Director of Player Development with the Raptors. Since 2015, he has provided studio analysis on Sportsnet broadcasts.
While Rautins may not have been everyone’s cup of tea, and Sportsnet believed that a change had to be made, it doesn’t sound like one of the few to be connected with this franchise from conception until the present day will be totally leaving the airwaves.
Training camp begins for the Raptors on September 27. Williams and the Raptors’ broadcast team opens its 27th NBA regular season on Oct. 20, when the Washington Wizards visit Scotiabank Arena.