Rogers Getting High Marks For Hiring Of Stroumboulopoulos For Hockey Broadcasts
Rogers Communications yesterday hired the CBC's George Stroumboulopoulos to host "Hockey Night In Canada," and in doing so is "seeking a personality it hopes will help it reach out beyond the hard-core hockey fan currently watching its Sportsnet network," according to Simon Houpt of the GLOBE & MAIL. The net is "betting it can expand the audience of its new anchor." Stroumboulopoulos will "host the Saturday night broadcasts as well as the new Sunday night 'Hometown Hockey' broadcasts on Rogers Media’s City TV network." Rogers also is "holding on to some valuable assets" from the CBC, as Ron MacLean and Don Cherry will return. Together with Sportsnet broadcasters Daren Millard and Jeff Marek, MacLean and Cherry will "host approximately 600 regular season and playoff games." MacLean also will host "Hockey Day in Canada" and appear on the Sunday night broadcasts as the host of a segment Rogers is calling "Hometown Hockey Community Celebration." Millard, who has "been with Sportsnet for 15 years, will host 'Wednesday Night Hockey' on the network." Marek will "host 'Thursday Night Hockey' on Sportsnet 360, as well as weekend afternoon NHL pre-game shows on the network" (GLOBE & MAIL, 3/11).
THE RIGHT STUFF: In Montreal, Pat Hickey writes Stroumboulopoulos is "one of the best interviewers" and he will bring a "fresh outlook to the Saturday night games." Stroumboulopoulos said that he "wouldn’t attempt to be an expert but he should be an effective traffic cop on the between-period panels and he expects to use his skills as an interviewer" (Montreal GAZETTE, 3/11). SPORTSNET's Luke Fox wrote Stroumboulopoulos "made a name for himself first as a MuchMusic VJ and increased his popularity as host" of his own CBC talk show. Stroumboulopoulos "insists he won’t pretend to be something he’s not." He said that he "won’t be the star of the show; hockey will be." He "won’t try to wing it and make some shrewd analysis; he’ll let his interview and hosting skills do the heavy lifting," but his "passion for the game will shine" (SPORTSNET.ca, 3/10). Stroumboulopoulos yesterday "vowed to host the show as a hockey fan while continuing the tradition" that MacLean has established. Stroumboulopoulos said, “We just serve the game. When you change up the dynamic, I suppose you’re going to change the personality of the show, but I don’t think it’s a complete re-invention" (TORONTO SUN, 3/11).
A WELCOME ADDITION: In Vancouver, Cam Cole writes bringing on Stroumboulopoulos "can’t hurt." For all the "good people in the 'HNIC' cast, they often don’t make very good television." The show "has become a hodgepodge ... of formulaic television, trying very hard to be cutting-edge but mainly looking and sounding like a poor man’s Fox NFL panel, minus the outsized personalities." There are "too many voices yelling over one another on the panel," and there is "virtually no useful information unless it comes out of the mouth of Elliotte Friedman." With a new "face at the top of the show ... and a redeployment of troops elsewhere in the telecasts, the product is certain to look a little less like the same old, same old, at least at the start" (VANCOUVER SUN, 3/11). In Montreal, Brendan Kelly wrote Stroumboulopoulos is "a great fit for the CBC hockey institution." He will add "a little energy and urban buzz to a show that's made a point of pretending it's still 1952." Hiring Stroumboulopoulos is a "step in the right direction" (MONTREALGAZETTE.com, 3/10).
CHERRY ON TOP: The CP's Dan Ralph noted Cherry "isn't expecting" Rogers to make big changes. Cherry also said that he "has no plans to change" his broadcast style. Cherry: "Why ruin a good thing? We've got a good thing going, everybody watches us and I don't think they'll fool with it too much. I know one thing, they won't fool with Coach's Corner, and that's the main thing, isn't it?" (CP, 3/10).