As I mentioned the other day, there had been reports in Canadian media this week that The Star’s Damien Cox was headed to his part-time employer TSN fulltime. It turns out that story couldn’t be further from the truth. Just a day after The Globe’s Bruce Dowbiggin (who I rarely consider a reliable source anyway) reported that Cox had verbally agreed to a deal with TSN, Cox nixed Canada’s Sports Leader for its main competitor, Rogers. Cox will be joining Sportsnet and Sportsnet Radio The Fan 590 to appear on Primetime Sports as a co-host, HockeyCentral as an analyst and other various Sportsnet shows. This also means that we will no longer see him on TSN shows like That’s Hockey and The Reporters. It looks like Cox will still write for The Star as well.
While I’m not the biggest fan of Cox, I think that this is a great hire for Rogers. Since Darren Dreger left they haven’t really had a hockey insider. Cox should be able to fill that role and that will help Sportsnet out in a big way on Trade Deadline Day in a month’s time. He is also a big improvement on John Shannon, who tends to be the regular co-host on Primetime of late, even though Stephen Brunt is officially the regular co-host. Shannon will be staying at Sportsnet, but hopefully this means his roles on Primetime and HockeyCentral are reduced.
This is just the latest big hire by the Rogers family. First they brought in former CTV Olympic head Keith Pelley to front all of their TV stations and then Pelley hired former CBC head Scott Moore to oversee the sports department, including the five Sportsnet stations. It seems that with the launch of Sportsnet one and all of these big hires, Rogers is really interested in putting the money into mounting a challenge against TSN to become Canada’s #1 sports channel.
Here are some quotes from Cox’s Twitter account on his move to Rogers.
“What can I tell you? Rumors of my imminent departure from Canada’s top newspaper were greatly exaggerated.”
“Thanks to TSN for 15 great years. Wonderful people, superb talent, a very good operation that deserves to be on top right now.”
“It’ll be great to be back with the Bobcat and Brunt, two all-time pros. The best in the business.”
“Great challenge ahead for Sportsnet. Flattered to be asked to be a small part of the team going forward.”
“Also a big farewell to Gino Reda, who was always willing to help me and give points. His TH producer, Mike Lane, is a man on the rise.”
“Working at the paper is such a privilege. Maybe it took the craziness of this week to make me realize that.”
“Finally, appreciate all the kind words sent by TSN staffers, and all the welcomes from Sportsnet folks. This is gonna be a heckuva battle.”