Talk-show host George Stroumboulopoulos is joining the Hockey Night in Canada lineup, Rogers Communications confirmed Monday.
Stroumboulopoulos, Don Cherry, Ron MacLean, Daren Millard and Jeff Marek will be the “cornerstones” of the broadcaster’s NHL coverage, Rogers said in a statement.
Coach’s Corner will remain virtually unchanged with Cherry alongside MacLean, who is the current host of Hockey Night in Canada.
Scott Moore, president of Rogers’ Sportsnet & NHL Properties, introduced the new team inside a dark Hockey Night in Canada studio at CBC headquarters in downtown Toronto.
“We get to pull from a great talent pool with the CBC and Sportsnet,” Moore said.
“For this studio, it’s symbolic. It may be somewhat empty now, but in 29 weeks, it will look a little bit more like this – a fresh face for hockey in a new season.”
Stroumboulopoulos, 41, said hockey is one of his “deep-seated passions” and that “he’s thrilled to be going full circle.” He also said he’s loved hockey since the age of five.
“To join a team with Ron and Don … I grew up watching Ron and Don and these guys are icons,” Stroumboulopoulos said at the news conference.
“Ron’s the greatest host I’ve ever seen. To be in the same team as him is amazing. Millard’s great, of course Cherry’s Cherry. He’s the greatest at what he does, and it’s with Marek. What a dream.”
Stroumboulopoulos also said most people don’t realize that he started his career in sports and “learned to interview by interviewing athletes.”
MacLean also had some fun with the new host during the news conference.
“George, don’t screw this up. It’s a big show,” MacLean said.
With respect to his future, Cherry said “Once I feel that I’m not exciting on a Saturday night, I’ll know it’s time.
Cherry had some simple advice for Stroumboulopoulos: “Be yourself.”
Stroumboulopoulos, a passionate Habs fan, spoke to the Montreal Canadiens magazine about his love for the team. Click here to read the interview.
At the news conference, he said that won’t impact his coverage, adding “it’s important to have a point of view but not to have a bias.”
Stroumboulopoulos will host not only the marquee Saturday night show but also other broadcasts on City, Sportsnet and other platforms, Rogers said.
MacLean will also be a part of a new broadcast on Sunday nights called Hometown Hockey Community Celebration.
“We’re all figuring this out a little bit on the fly, as you can well imagine,” said MacLean, adding he is happy to be continuing his “fun partnership,” with Cherry.
Earlier in the day, Rogers announced the details in a statement.
“George is one of the smartest and most versatile broadcasters in the business,” Moore said in the statement.
“Ron and Don are icons in the hockey world. Along with Daren and Jeff, our new broadcast team brings a tremendous amount of talent, expertise and personality – and most importantly, they all possess a supreme passion for hockey.”
The NHL and Rogers signed a $5.2-billion broadcast rights deal last fall. Under the contract, Hockey Night in Canada will remain on the CBC for at least the next four years.
George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight, Stroumboulopoulos’s current program on the CBC, will end after this season, the broadcaster announced earlier Monday. The program has run for 10 years.
Stroumboulopoulos made his debut as an intern and later radio reporter for The FAN 590. He also hosted an overnight sports show called The Game. He was also a VJ at MuchMusic and hosted a show on CNN.
Stroumboulopoulos said that when he and Marek broke into the business with The FAN 590 they talked about working in hockey together.
“We agreed … that in 20 years, we’d be ready to do something like this, and I’m having this conversation 19-and-a -half years later,” Stroumboulopoulos said to Moore.
Below is an audio clip from an overnight show Stroumboulopoulos and Marek used to host together on The FAN 590, believed to be from 1994:
[Download] (To download: Right click -> Save as)
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What do you think of the decision? Let us know in the comments.
With files from Momin Qureshi, 680News; Cynthia Mulligan, CityNews, and The Canadian Press.