Despite its overwhelming success, it’s easy to understand why the new purveyor of Hockey Night In Canada would seek to change the broadcast’s brand. A difficult balance has to be achieved: After paying $5.2 billion for broadcast rights over the next 12 seasons, Rogers wants to adjust the flagship hockey broadcast in Canada enough to ensure the acknowledgment of Sportsnet’s ownership, but not so much as to alienate a long devoted audience.
Enter George Stroumboulopoulos, an “alternative” voice on which all Canadians can agree.
Stroumboulopoulos is the perfect choice to replace Ron MacLean as host of Hockey Night In Canada. Boasting a style that gives the illusion of rebel, the talk show host consistently reinforces the values that most Canadians hold dear. He appeals to a younger demographic while simultaneously possessing the ability to placate the old.
Having their cake, and eating it, too, Rogers also announced on Monday that MacLean would stay on not only as Don Cherry’s handler for Coach’s Corner, but also to fulfil hosting duties for Sunday night’s coverage. Once a year, he’ll continue his fine work anchoring the Hockey Day In Canada broadcast.
It says more about MacLean’s history than Stroumboulopoulos’s capability that expectations of the new host have been mostly tempered. Roll your eyes all you want at the cliches about big shoes to fill and a tough act to follow, the sentiment remains true: MacLean offered something to a Canadian institution that no one else could.