The Canadian hockey viewing population is about to be shaken to its very core. Last November it was announced that the deep-pocketed folks at media giant Rogers Communications had purchased the Canadian television rights to all NHL games for the next 12 years. The price was a cool $5.2 billion – yep, billion with a B.
Since 1931 the Canadian flagship hockey broadcast has been Hockey Night in Canada which will continue to air on CBC as a subcontractor of Rogers. The Saturday night, and more and more often weekday evening broadcasts have been hosted by Ron MacLean for many years. It has been announced that CBC talk show host George Stroumboulopoulos will replace MacLean as host, although MacLean will stay with the show.
Stroumboulopoulos most recently had a short stint at CNN doing his talk show thing on Friday nights. What did you think of it? Oh, you didn’t see it – don’t worry, not too many people did. The network got more mileage riffing off of the George Stroumboulopoulos not George Stephanopoulos name-related ads than anything else. Still, as they say about short stays in baseball’s major leagues, a cup of coffee in The Show is better than never making it at all.
MacLean is a witty – if overly punny, intelligent hockey insider. He knows all the players, both those on the ice and those in the boardrooms. He comes across as the kind of guy you’d like to have as a neighbour. Stroumboulopoulos is bright as well, and a good host, but not a hockey insider. Although he did a great job on a special program to mark the centennial of the Montreal Canadiens a few years ago.
Stroumboulopoulos or Strombo as he’s often referred to, has a background that is steeped in entertainment not sports, although he is a big Montreal Canadiens fan. He was a VJ in Toronto before going national and landing a position with CBC. I think it will be a huge adjustment for hockey fans, not necessarily a bad one, but certainly a bit of a learning curve. To that end let me make a few suggestions George:
- Don’t refer to yourself as “your boyfriend”;
- The NHL has cracked down on faking to draw penalties, in a similar vein, you need to lose the exaggerated faux laughing at things that really aren’t funny. I understand you’re being kind to guests, but it’s not working for you;
- At the risk of sounding like everybody’s mother, for Christ’s sake sit properly;
- Remember NHL hockey is for all Canadians, don’t get caught-up in the Toronto-centric mind set that permeates HNIC – it’s silly and transparent;
- If at all possible try to avoid Don Cherry.
So Strombo, it looks like the CNN gig didn’t work out for a reason, you were destined to become the new face of HNIC, not bad.
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