TSN’s Bob McKenzie, proving that he is still the top insider in the game, reported Sunday evening that CBC talk-show host, and former Much VJ, George Stroumboulopoulos is expected to become the new host of Rogers’ Hockey Night in Canada this fall. McKenzie also reports that Don Cherry will continue to offer analysis in the Coach’s Corner, at least for two seasons. Ron MacLean will also still have a job, albeit it in a reduced role. It also looks like Sportsnet has passed on current NHL host Darren Millard, who was on-hand when Sportsnet announced the new contract in November.
Stroumboulopoulos is an interesting choice by Sportsnet, but his hiring does follow a pattern. Since acquiring the package in November, Sportsnet’s President of Hockey Scott Moore has consistently talked about telling the stories of players, at the expense of the analysis and business talk that dominates CBC and TSN’s national broadcasts. When Moore hired Gord Cutler as the Senior VP of Hockey a month ago, Cutler re-iterated Sportsnet’s plan of storytelling. MacLean has a history of taking a harsh stand on some NHL business issues, including officiating. So, it makes sense that Sportsnet does not want to give him the most air time. On the other hand, Stroumboulopoulos has spent most of his time hosting pop culture shows on Much and CBC. Telling the life story of the people he interviews is a big part of his show.
He is also an interesting choice because Sportsnet wants their broadcasts to appeal to all Canadians, including new immigrants. Moore has also often repeated this point over the past few months. Stroumboulopoulos is a second generation Canadian, with a Greek father from Egypt and Ukrainian mother. If he doesn’t appeal to first and second generation Canadians, then who will? Considering Canada’s aging population, getting new Canadians to buy into hockey, instead of soccer or basketball, will become more and more important over Sportsnet’s 12 year contract.
This is the first change of the face of Hockey Night in Canada since Ron MacLean replaced Dave Hodge following the infamous flip of the pen in 1987. I’m not a big fan of the choice of Stroumboulopoulos. I would have preferred a hockey guy such as Elliotte Friedman. Sportsnet will likely confirm the appointment later this week, so stay tuned for updates.
beIN Sport Now Available… Fans of La Liga and Serie A have went a season and a half without access to their favourite teams on Canadian TV. Now beIN Sport is finally available. It is on free preview on Bell and Rogers until April, when it will cost $15 a month. Coincidentally Bell and Rogers are also the two Canadian providers that have dropped, or will soon drop, Speed. However, Speed is still available on Shaw Direct, among other regional cable providers, for those who absolutely need their motorsports fix.