Hockey Night in Canada in the 21st Century!
One could argue that the CBC did and still does two things better than any private broadcaster on Canadian airwaves; present the nightly news with true national relevance and broadcast our national sport at its highest level.
While the news is still hosted by Peter Mansbidge, The National is the pinnacle of news broadcasting in this country and Mansbridge is by all accounts a world class news broadcaster.
The same could be said of Hockey Night in Canada from its days as a radio broadcast until its TV introduction in 1952. With the legendary Foster Hewitt proving that his radio play by play was right for the TV airwaves as well,the show has been a Saturday night staple on Canadian airwaves for more than half a century.
While it continues to be a part of our cultural heritage in the modern age, it has undergone a major overhaul for the 2014 season, with the most curious move of introducing George Stroumboulopoulos as its new host.
While change is a constant an necessary, some may argue “evil” in today’s fast paced, cut through the white noise world. Many people find it hard to digest that the owners of the HNIC brand Rogers Communications would entrust hosting a natural treasure to someone with such little hockey credibility. While it is understandable that the brain-trust would want to procure a younger audience, there must be something said for tradition and the fact that the love of the game is handed down from generation to generation.
One must wonder how long time hockey broadcasters must feel at being passed over as host of the crown jewel of hockey broadcasts. Not to mention how long time host Ron MacLean must feel.
MacLean continue to be part of the now iconic Coaches corner segment broadcast between the first and second period of each Hockey Night In Canada broadcast, thankfully the higher ups at the parent company know enough not to mess with this part of the telecast. I would suspect that it is a major contributor to the advertising revenue that the show generates, given the fact that we have to sit through two commercial segments before and after the introduction just to get to the sometimes controversial content and the brilliant puns that MacLean delivers on a weekly basis.
The new era NHL is bigger business than ever, with more revenue and bigger TV deals than ever. While it is understandable, and somewhat from a thankful standpoint that Rogers outbid all others to secure the rights to NHL broadcasts in Canada, one cant feel but a little sad and nostalgic that they are changing our;and we have the right to say our because it was funded by taxpayers dollars, national icon.
Time will tell if it was for the better.