The new face of Hockey Night in Canada
Would you pick George Stroumboulopoulos for your hockey TV team?
Highly-touted draft picks can wilt under the intensity of the National Hockey League or rise to stardom, using the pressure of success to drive their careers. George Stroumboulopoulos faces a similar challenge as the new host of Hockey Night in Canada.
For years, Canadian hockey fans found comfort in tuning into the CBC on Saturday nights. We know the Toronto Maple Leafs will likely play in the early game. We expect Don Cherry and Ron MacLean to get a full intermission of Coach’s Corner. We also look forward to Scott Oake and Kelly Hrudey humourously interviewing players post-game during After Hours.
Hockey Night in Canada is now the domain of Rogers, the parent company of Sportsnet, for at least the next 12 years. The deal comes with an elaborate new set, format and personnel. While Hockey Night in Canada games might appear on CBC channels, Rogers now has full control of the show’s production.
You might be familiar with Stroumboulopoulos as a MuchMusic’s host in the early 2000s, or from his more recent CBC talk show “The Hour.” His career as a talk show host makes many apprehensive about his his ability to host Hockey Night in Canada.
Brian Manalo, a second-year information design student at MRU says, “I’ve only seen Stroumbo once or twice with the Trailer Park Boys cast. I see him as more of a late-night talk show host than as a host for something like Hockey Night in Canada.”
Similar sentiments have been echoed by fans. I watched Stroumboulopoulos host Hockey Night in Canada for the first time on Saturday, Oct. 11. I feel optimistic that he will prove to be a great host for the prestigious sports broadcast.
At times, Stroumboulopoulos was a bit awkward, such as when he attempted to mimic a hockey play with Nick Kypreos. The two of them clutched hockey sticks as they tried to demonstrate board play tactics while walking. The whole thing looked a bit comical.
Also, a hockey tailored interview with Stephen Harper was perhaps not the best choice for Stroumboulopoulos either. Our robotic prime minister has not outwardly expressed any emotion in about 20 years, I think.
However, Stroumboulopoulos is at his best when he conveys his warmth and friendliness to viewers. In his broadcast on Saturday, viewers got a taste of those traits. I think his casual style makes him easy to watch and he will only become more familiar to us as he gets more comfortable in his new role.
Cherry and MacLean still have their Coach’s Corner segment on Saturdays. The segment is now cut down to five minutes in length. MacLean has been moved to Sundays as host of Hometown Hockey. Rogers has made it clear that Saturday night belongs to Stroumboulopoulos.
On Saturday’s segment Cherry said, “I only got five minutes, eh? This is what you call phasing a guy out, you know what I mean?”
While MacLean replied, “At least you’re still in the phasing part.”
Like hockey equipment, sports broadcasts can become old and crusty. Stroumboulopoulos has the great responsibility to ensure that this does not happen. He has given Hockey Night in Canada a refreshing and youthful perspective.
In the long run, let’s hope Stroumboulopoulos gives the venerable sports broadcast the energy it’s been lacking for years.