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[Article] The Swift Decline of Hockey Night in Canada

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A friend posted this on Facebook and wanted to share here. My apologies if this is the wrong forum for it, or if its been posted (I searched before posting)


I think considering how many people on this site comment on the lack of quality programming being put out from CDC recently, this article hits on a lot of that.

Thoughts? Opinions?

Personally I find it more sad than anything, and it makes me really dislike Rogers for running it into the ground with such disregard for it as a long-time program beloved by Canadians coast to coast.

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It started the moment they lost the hockey night in canada song to TSN

Strombo isn't helping and the fact we still get stuck with the same people announcing and in between periods is atrocious.

Ya...it's bad.

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Here's the original article.

It’s been less than a year — eight months, if you’re only counting the actual NHL season — since Rogers Communications Inc. took over Hockey Night in Canada from CBC, but that’s all the time in the world Rogers needed to take one of the country’s greatest pasttimes and shatter the reputation it had held for over 50 brilliant years.

And maybe it didn’t even take this long for the program to be slaughtered. Maybe the handcuffs were clamped on to the wrists of faithful Canadian hockey fans months ago, before the season ever started and before Rogers was actually able to go on air.

Decisions made as the franchise switched over to Rogers were seemingly what affected the well-being, popularity and previous admiration so many people had for Hockey Night before. Because, as Rogers senior vice president of NHL production Gord Cutler explains, they knew they wanted to distance themselves from the program Hockey Night once was.

“I don’t think that we’re going to maintain all of the traditions from Hockey Night.” – Gord Cutler. National Post. Published: Sept. 29, 2014.

At the time, that was an absurd decision, and now, it feels more along the lines of ludicrous.

Poor Choices

As Rogers continued their attempt to distance themselves from the success Hockey Night had seen on CBC, they couldn’t help but kick to the curb one of the features that made Saturday nights so exciting and entertaining.

Tim Thompson, the artist behind every exhilarating opening montage and emotional closing scenes, found himself on the outside looking in on Hockey Night’s production this season.

Fortunately, Thompson still works for CBC Sports and has been a part of the Montreal Canadiens organization this year, producing inspirational montages for their playoff run, but his presence is still dearly missed at the beginning of Hockey Night each and every game.

His work was one of the attributes that made Hockey Night so remarkable. It was the reason why you would crowd around the television at 6:59 p.m., turn up the volume to ear-piercing levels and sit with eyes wide open as the opening montage played. It never failed to induce goosebumps or chills down your spine.

First, there was a short introduction.

“The following is a live presentation of Hockey Night in Canada in association with the National Hockey League.”

And then this would play.

Magnificent. Simply amazing.

But the people at Rogers didn’t feel the need to bring such a desired talent onboard with their production.

This is what they replaced it with.

A man with a bellowing voice, narrating using the cheesiest, most cringeworthy script ever?

Sounds more like the commercial to a bad Michael Bay film than the opening montage to a playoff game.

In an attempt to modernize their program, Rogers has, in turn, made Hockey Night impossible to take seriously.

Ron, Don and George

Seeking to further remodel the program, Rogers introduced a new host in George Stroumboulopoulos. The former star of The Hour on CBC, Stroumboulopoulos was to replace Ron MacLean who had served as host of Hockey Night since 1987.

Stroumboulopoulos was younger than MacLean (13 years, to be exact), more trendy and had proven to be a fine host on his own talk show. So with that, the decision was made for MacLean to be forced to step down and take a less involved role. He was to only be seen alongside Don Cherry in Coach’s Corner and to help host the Sunday Hometown Hockey broadcast that had him travelling all over Canada.

But why?

Change can be refreshing in some circumstances, but when it’s clearly pushed onto a good thing, it seems entirely unnecessary.

Was MacLean unhappy with being the host of Canada’s most popular program? Very doubtful. Was he failing to reach the goals of Hockey Night’s overseers as a suitable host? Probably not. Has he made any poor choices on air that could be reason for his diminished role? Nope.

So then MacLean’s removal is, in its bare essence, an effort to be more “hip” and cater to a younger crowd.

Except the younger crowd grew up on a heavy dose of MacLean.


(Tom Turk/The Hockey Writers)

And also of Cherry. Who, and this might come to shock you, has also had his presence reduced.

Yes, the man who once had almost an entire intermission dedicated to his controversial opinions and butchering of players’ last names has been cut down a fair bit. In early November on Coach’s Corner, Cherry voiced his aggravation with his lack of air time when he yelled, “Why are we tight?” multiple times halfway through the segment.

Understandably, it’s probably a bit irritating for Cherry to be told they are tight for time at the three-minute mark of his show.

“It threw me off… When I first started I had 10 minutes, then it went to eight minutes, then seven. Saturday was a little too much for me, at five minutes, so I had to say something.” -Don Cherry. Global News. Published: Nov. 12, 2014.

Soon after, things were patched up with the Rogers crew, but that hasn’t stopped Cherry from receiving a shortened time slot.

In 2015, Cherry and MacLean, on average, are given just shy of six minutes for Coach’s Corner. That’s a lot less than just a year ago when they were given anywhere from eight to eleven minutes with CBC.

The Ratings Don’t Lie

For a company who claimed to be on track for a 20-per-cent increase in viewers from the previous season, these statistics are a knockout punch.

“Eastern games on Saturday nights on the CBC and the Rogers networks had an average audience of 1.696 million, down 6 per cent from the same period a year ago when the games were only on the CBC and drew an average audience of 1.803 million.” – David Shoalts. Globe and Mail. Published: Jan. 30, 2015.

“Things are worse for the Western games, as the average audience from December through January was 765,000, a 19-per-cent decline from the previous year.” – David Shoalts.

The writing is on the wall.


The excitement is gone, the authenticity which we so loved is non-existent and Hockey Night has become just another Sportsnet broadcast.

The wounds are self-inflicted. Rogers has done this to themselves.

“I don’t really think there was anything that was a part of
Hockey Night in Canada
that was sacrosanct, where we said, ‘oh we absolutely have to have that.’” – Gord Cutler.

It’s as if Rogers wanted to take everything that made Hockey Night distinctive, pry apart all the tradition built up over 50 years and start over. But for what reason?

Rogers’ $5.2 billion deal with the NHL stretches out over 12 years.

With their inaugural season finally coming to an end, you’ve got to wonder how long hockey fans will be willing to tolerate the new brand of Hockey Night.

11 years is a long time.

As for demoting MacLean, Sportsnet didn't go nearly far enough. The problem isn't Rogers, it's a culture of gross unprofessionalism that has been present on HNIC for years. MacLean should have been given his pink slip after he used Canadian tax dollars to publicly slander Alex Burrows.

The change to a new network could have been a golden opportunity to get rid of some of the worst offenders (Stock, Healy, Simpson). When Don Cherry is often the voice of reason (other than Friedman) in your intermission, there's a serious problem. While demoting MacLean and letting the dreadful Mark Lee go is a good start, Sportsnet really needs to start cleaning house and start holding their staff accountable.

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^ agree 100%. That is one thing in the article I disagreed with, when it suggested that Ron MacLean didn't do anything to deserve being removed.. That's ludicris to say since he also played a big role in HNIC' decline.

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The sweep didn't go far enough imho. Don Cherry isn't going to live forever, and then what? The CBC will offer nothing in terms of tradition to hold.

I found the playoff coverage for our series to be a joke, far worse than any other coverage, and this was done deliberately imho because they have a bunch of clowns there that get off on it.

But if Rogers' hockey profits aren't as high as they should've been this season, despite so many Canadian teams being in the playoffs, that can mean only one thing, that more cuts are on the way. There will be a further purge. Perhaps as well they should try to start appealling to the local fanbases who feed all their bloated salaries. It's long overdue.

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I think they shouldn't have hired a glorified Much Music VJ to lead the panel. I'd literally rather listen to what Corky from Life Goes On has to say about the NHL than Strombo. I would happily watch him interview a musician though.


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CBC's been floundering for years, as has Sportsnet. They've become second rate broadcasts. TSN was really rising because they were decent, insightful, unbiased. Rogers thought they were killing competition by getting rid of TSN, but they never fixed why people hate CBC and sportsnet. Terribly quality, biased hosts, and frankly analysts who have no idea what they're talking about. *Cough Stock and Healy cough* Cherry was the only person who'd call it like it was, and his time was reduced significantly. MacLean had to step down as host eventually, but Strombo is a HORRIBLE replacement. Lets face it. CBC got a lot worse in quality and people. Even the commentator quality has dropped.

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I think they shouldn't have hired a glorified Much Music VJ to lead the panel. I'd literally rather listen to what Corky from Life Goes On has to say about the NHL than Strombo. I would happily watch him interview a musician though.


What about Conky from Trailer Park Boys?



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HNIC has been irrelevant for quite a long time now,and I would agree that the first blow was losing the famous theme music..which alone would pump you up for the game....All of TV/Radio commentary for hockey has become very bland and artificial in the last few years..(Dave Tomlinson,Craig Simpson etc..all the characters have been fired or retired)..Nowadays,I think a lot of fans mute the TV for the intro and intermissions.

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They have a lot of work to do if they want HNIC to be the show it once was.

Strombo isn't a horrible host IMO, but he isn't a hockey guy at all. He's a talk show guy hosting a hockey show and it doesn't really work. I'd rather him than McLean though.

Coach's Corner isn't really a big deal to me, since it's rarely on during the Canucks games. It does have nostalgic value to it though, just like the old HNIC theme.

I think the biggest problem is that the commentators and panel guys are for the most part pretty bad. There is blatant bias towards certain teams, and then there's morons like Healy and Stock who just are just absolutely horrible. It just makes for bad TV.

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I found TSN's broadcasts more biased than any. Cough Darren Nonuts Dreger. Craig Simpson should never have been calling any games other than home broadcast for Toronto and Edmonton.

But they did have good talent.

Bob McKenzie is IMO the single best hockey journo in the biz. Even he has biases. Primarily to CHL and Ontario based junior players. It is hard to hide the place in his heart for any team Canada squad. But he still represents a facts based and highly objective broadcast and article regardless. And having credibility he can question a GM's or coaches move. Or settle fans when they should not be getting excited.

By contrast Dreger will sensationalize any whim that attracts web hits. I could do without him.

Dave Hodge is a great caller.

I really enjoy broadcasts with Ray Ferraro. Occasionally he has a controversial view? But he has a love of a shrewd play or big hit that cannot be hidden in a soothing voice. And he picks up on hockey plays. Little fundamentals like stick or body positioning, battles within matchups, micro and macro tactics. He has an ability to articulate them all.

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Strombo is a creepy middle aged man still trying to act like he is young and hip.

The talking heads Hrudey,Simpson,Stock, and yeah even Friedman (although many like him) just grate on my eyes and ears, they all sound even worse than they look.

I can't even handle Jim Hughson anymore (Heeeeere comes Ferland!!!) I wasn't really happy with the Hockey Night in Calgary broadcast team, bunch of 'journalists' and 'analysts' waving Flames pompoms all series long.

MacLean gets what he deserves, he was such a jackass doing what he did to Alex Burrows, and although he refers to himself as a 'long time ref in the Centennial League' I wouldn't have him ref a beer league match.

Ironically, I still have respect for Cherry, as he is honest enough to admit that he doesn't want to change with the times.

I don't even bother with Rogers Night in Canada anymore, I just watch NBC now. It's actually a much better broadcast with just as many reputable hockey people and less BS.

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