Ron MacLean to Replace George Stroumboulopoulos as Host of Hockey Night in Canada

According to The Toronto Star's Dave Feschuk, George Stroumboulopoulos won’t return as host of Hockey Night in Canada next season. His replacement will be the man he replaced, Ron MacLean.

Strombo is a tremendous broadcaster, and I was lucky enough to converse with him for almost two hours during episode 103 of my podcast. He's a natural interviewer, with several passions that make him one of this country's finest. Subjective, I know, but I thought he was just fine as host of Hockey Night in Canada. I just believe the position should never have been open in the first place.

As Ron MacLean told me during his recent visit to my home podcast studio for episode 165, he lost his Hockey Night in Canada hosting duties because he refused to give Gary Bettman a free pass. MacLean strikes me as someone who struggles with the ethics of journalism, and simply won't toe the line for any job, ever. During the last two seasons, he was grossly underutilized by Rogers Hockey, and I told him that.

Ron MacLean and Me strombo and me

I'm happy to see a wrong righted with MacLean, but sorry to see it come at the expense of Strombo. You won't find two nicer, more accommodating broadcasters in this country.


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Comments (42 - click here to join in!)

chris

Finally a person who can do their job. Ron MacLean will boost ratings.
Strombo good luck as U were way over your head with HNIC. You were like a dentist trying to perform heart surgery.

June 19, 2016 @ 7:27 PM

GUNTer

yes! couldn't be happier. strombo was terrible in that position, imo.

June 19, 2016 @ 7:36 PM

Hans

I've always thought that they were in the complete opposite roles. I think George would be better suited to doing the Hometown Hockey segments while Ron is better in the studio doing the show.

I would hope this is the case here and if the story is accurate that Strombo isn't completely losing his job. He did the best he could with people who didn't want to work with him at his pace on a show that didn't suit him.

June 19, 2016 @ 7:41 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

Perhaps the role for Strombo on HNIC is chief interviewer?

June 19, 2016 @ 7:46 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

You know, assuming I don't get that gig.

June 19, 2016 @ 7:49 PM

Dan

Now if they can just get rid if Kypreos and Healy....

June 19, 2016 @ 8:41 PM

WestCoaster

It was about time. Strombo was even worse in the hockey gig than he was as an egotistical, empty-headed interviewer. He knew nothing about hockey: totally annoying and I hated his ugly suits. So *very* glad Ron Maclean will deservedly be back in the driver's seat.

June 19, 2016 @ 9:17 PM

argie

Hallelujah. All that praying finally paid off.

Now please Cavs let's win this!

June 19, 2016 @ 9:48 PM

D Ray

ratings have just about zero to do with the studio segments (Coach's ratings were never so much more than Stove to justify the excessive coverage it's received). Ratings will improve because of Matthews, CDN teams can't possibly get worse and possibly a momentum boost from the Sept. tournament into early season. I think when people think of Ron they think of an idealized/90s version. Compare the roundtable this year to Ron's last few years. Was immeasurably better because little by little Ron forgot he was a host/setup man- had to inject his opinion everywhere on go on weird tangents (happens to all the veterans guys with more $/ego - Berman, Lamps, Michaels). And he was a TERRIBLE interviewer last few years. Maybe he can get it back but it'll hardly matter - Canadian hockey fans have decided, in 2002 and now, that they don't like change above all else

June 19, 2016 @ 10:29 PM

Omar

If true I am going to miss Strombo. I thought he did fine. Anyone who knows anything about him would know he is a lifelong hockey fan and a talented interviewer. As for his suits, being a straight male, his dress code was not something I was overly concerned with or paid attention to.

June 19, 2016 @ 10:51 PM

Anonymous

If they could get Strombo doing more interviews and in depth pieces about the people inside the game I think it could actually be pretty compelling. He does a great job talking to people. Hosting HNIC didn't play to his strength. Hope he stays on in a different capacity.

June 19, 2016 @ 11:50 PM

it's the silly format

it wasn't so much George that bugged me; it was the damn silly format. having them stand on fake ice holding sticks to demonstrate "a particular play" .. ugggg. and the blizzard of silly ass graphics .. uggg, uggg. following trending twitter posts .. ROFL. the silly ass one-on-one debates with real time fan voting .. ROFL, ROFL.

just put knowledgeable hockey guys sitting on chairs having a knowledgeable hockey discussion about the current games & current topics. the intermission is what .. 10 minutes of content .. you don't have to glitz it up.

my best wishes to george & welcome back ron.

June 20, 2016 @ 1:15 AM

Strombo's Pants

Still doesn't give me any relief as I have breathing issues.

June 20, 2016 @ 7:00 AM

LOU DIAMOND PHILLIPS

This is a total panic move from sportsnet do they really think Ron Maclean being back is going to increase ratings. " I am not going to watch hockey tonight because Strombo's pants were to tight and he didn't drop "hilarious" puns like Maclean does"

June 20, 2016 @ 9:17 AM

Alison in Ottawa

I'm a fan of both men and hope that they will utilize Strombo somehow, he has a lot of strengths....I agree with Mike, and its too bad that both men have been the casualty of poor decision making.

I wish them both success in whatever role they play.

June 20, 2016 @ 9:30 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

Sources on the inside tell me chief bad-decision-maker Gord Cutler was responsible for most of the changes we disliked.

His ousting clears the way for some of these wrongs to be righted.

June 20, 2016 @ 9:32 AM

markosaar

I can't believe how much people care about how Strombo dresses. Sheesh.

Barely scratches the surface on torontomike.com, it's a recurring theme everywhere this is reported and there are comments permitted.

June 20, 2016 @ 9:59 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

When Strombo visited me, I asked him about the reaction to his attire. He was very frank that he thought he was perceived as "too Toronto, too Queen Street". He even said homophobia was in play, despite the fact Strombo is not gay.

In his opinion, much of Canada hates Queen Street, Toronto.

June 20, 2016 @ 10:07 AM

GoTrainAvenger

Strombo is a really good interviewer and comes across as a hardworking, decent human being. I think he came in for a lot of unnecessary and over the top abuse from a number of hockey fans who just don't like change, and others that are just suspicious of anyone from Toronto. That said, I don't think he was the right fit as the host of HNIC and he always appeared a little awkward in the role. So this is probably a good move.
Hopefully he lands on his feet elsewhere though.

June 20, 2016 @ 11:40 AM

Daniel

@Toronto Mike

If your audience doesn't want you to dress up like a hipster, don't dress up like a hipster...

Now I understand his wardrobe is not his choice, and realistically his clothing on the show has no relevance

But its microcosm of Rogers vs their audience. Rogers in their supreme arrogance announcing: Fans of hockey, you're going to like _____ because you're stupid and we know better so we're going to do it anyways, and you'll come around to it eventually

June 20, 2016 @ 1:02 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Daniel

I'm fairly certain Strombo wore what he wanted to wear.

And remember, I'm of the opinion that Ron MacLean never should have been replaced as host in the first place, I just happen to also think Strombo is pretty fantastic.

June 20, 2016 @ 1:21 PM

Jill

I don't watch HNIC - BUT even I understand why they're bringing Ron back. I assume most of the audience is familiar with Ron, and probably closer to his age than Strombo? Even if they are young, they don't 'get' Strombo? I understand why he would take the gig- and hopefully they listen to their audience and re purpose Strombo in a more useful way.

June 20, 2016 @ 1:45 PM

Elton Johnathan

It's not homophobia. It just looks awful. Strombo as usual making a poor attempt at saying something without proof or logic. It explains why sports viewers do not care for him.

June 20, 2016 @ 2:53 PM

Daniel

@Toronto Mike

Hmm I would have thought the wardrobe department basically picked out his clothes

I've got nothing against Strombo, I just think that if you're in the entertainment business and you're not giving the audience what they want, then you deserve to be fired. and the wardrobe was just an example of deciding to do things your way, followed by being fired for ignoring what the people actually want

June 20, 2016 @ 2:56 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Daniel

I understand Rogers kindly and gently asked Strombo to stop dressing that way.

June 20, 2016 @ 3:03 PM

another steve

Cutler was just one part of Cerberus, the monster responsible for Rogers version of HNIC.

My guess is that once the draft is over, Rick Brace cuts the remaining 2 heads, Rob Corte & Scott Moore.

This is Canada, only total incompetence and arrogance could make a hockey production unwatchable and drive it into the ground.

June 20, 2016 @ 4:49 PM

Irv

@TorontoMike @Strombo

Much of Canada hates Queen Street? Sorry, as someone that's lived across the rest of Canada (and in Toronto) the reality is most people in the rest of Canada have no fucking idea what Queen Street is. I mean, do you really think some guy in Chilliwack, BC looked at Strombo and thought "oh wow, he looks so Queen Street?" No, they'd have looked at him and said "Another Yaletown/West End yoga yuppie/fag". In Calgary it would have been the Beltline, in Edmonton it would have been Whyte Ave.

Perhaps that's one of the reasons Strombo was replaced?. Hockey is certainly a national pastime in Canada, but his overall view of Canada doesn't seem to extend past the 416. And as someone that has long listened to his show on Radio 2 it's not hard to see he's Toronto focused in his music programming. There's a whole country East and West of him, complete with all it's locally incubated culture, much of it as good or better than anything "Queen Street".


June 20, 2016 @ 4:56 PM

Joe

Its about time Rodgers woke up and got back to true Hockey Night in Canada. Watched game
but muted between periods except for Coaches Corner .

June 20, 2016 @ 9:41 PM

Barry

@ Irv

But are you taking it too literally? If Strombo's attitude is that "much of Canada hates Queen Street," does he think the rest of Canada literally hates Queen Street, or that there is a look and vibe that he is referring to as "Queen Street," and while "much of Canada" may have no idea that it could be associated with any specific neighbourhood, it's a look and vibe that they don't like.

June 21, 2016 @ 10:32 AM

Daniel

@IRV @Barry

Exactly, by hating Queen street he is referring to hating hipsters. I don't dislike hipsters. I just find conformist rebellion to be really funny

June 21, 2016 @ 11:32 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

Yes, "Queen Street" is George's term for "people like him". He doesn't literally mean Queen Street, Toronto.

June 21, 2016 @ 11:36 AM

Irv

So why does Strombo assume a "Queen Street" type equates to a "West End/Yaletown type" or a "Beltline" type in Calgary? Why the Toronto centric reference? Would a Queen Street hipster be found at a Corb Lund concert or looking forward to the Calgary Stampede? Doubt it. They would in Calgary. Labeling it all as "Queen Street" just demonstrates how Toronto centric Strombo is. It might surprise you but a Toronto hipster isn't necessarily the same as a Calgary or Vancouver hipster. Fuck, there are hipsters living in Whitehorse Yukon. They're not the same as Toronto hipsters.

Perhaps this "Queen Street" thing is less about hipsterism & more about him being too Toronto centric? That, coupled with a bit of a "too cool for school" persona maybe grinds people the wrong way especially those who don't have a 416 or 905 area code? I mean, we are talking about Hockey Night in EASTERN Canada.

Take Gord Downie as an example. The Hip are a Kingston band. They're proud of that. Yet, the bands lyrics & songs reflect all of Canada, even those out west of the 100th Meridian. That's why everyone loves the band. He reflects ALL of Canada. Not just the one in view of the CN Tower.


June 21, 2016 @ 12:41 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

For context of Strombo's "Queen Street" comments, you really have to listen to episode 103.

http://www.torontomike.com/2014/12/toronto_miked_podcast_episode_103.html

June 21, 2016 @ 1:14 PM

Barry

@ Irv

Except that the comment wasn't made on HNIC. It was made on Mike's podcast. Since Strombo was appearing on a podcast called "Toronto Mic'd," there's a very good chance he noticed the word "Toronto" in the name and felt that he was speaking to an audience familiar with Toronto, and therefore, capable of understanding a Toronto reference. He likely visited this site, too, and perhaps even noticed that the blog is self-billed as "a Toronto blog about all sorts of things with a Toronto-centric aftertaste."

I mean, if he does it on a national program, sure, you've got a fair criticism. But why on earth should he be held to a "be national" standard on a podcast that is itself Toronto-centric?

I get that you don't like Strombo, but the criticism about Toronto-centrism on a Toronto podcast for a Toronto audience seems like a stretch.

June 21, 2016 @ 1:14 PM

Irv

@Barry

I never said I don't like Strombo. I did say I'm a frequent listener to his radio program on Radio 2. Truth be told, I think he's more in touch with modern music than someone like Alan Cross is. I felt he was an excellent VJ on MuchMusic as he was more than a talking head. I wasn't totally into his CBC late night program, but he did some great interviews. He strikes me as a balanced thoughtful guy. He also strikes me as very Toronto centered personality. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, but that & the his modern "hipsterish" persona might turn off some folks who live outside of the view of the CN Tower.

Could his choice of "Queen Street" been used because he was presumably speaking to a local audience? Sure. But it may just as well be a subtle view of how "Toronto" his point of view is. I'd be more interested to see where the complaints about him came from

In the end does it matter? I have a long history with HNIC that began drifting years ago. The show reminds me of visiting my old neighborhood I went to school in. It's mostly stuck in time, but the changes that happened aren't for the better. That's how I see HNIC. If anything the Panjabi version of the show is more fun & fresher than the original. When the CBC loses complete control of it, it'll follow the classic "private broadcasting" path. They'll force anyone who wants to see hockey to buy an expensive package & then dumb down the hosts, etc to a cheaper, less talented version. They'll ride it out on the fumes of the "legend" until there is nothing left. Maybe that's not a good place to be.

Strombo is admittedly in a tough spot regardless. He's in an industry that's on the path to extinction. Most talk radio is raging right wing idiots, so he can't work there. Anything Much is done and over with and won't come back (Bell's master plan aside). Late night "talk TV" is another dodo bird in waiting. It's the realm of the baby boomers & original Generation X. Even CBC TV is pretty much a pointless venture in this day and age. It's just canned programming outside of a few newscasts. So..there ain't much a guy like Strombo could do unless he moves to the new media.

June 21, 2016 @ 4:01 PM

GB

In my humble opinion......The whole production just did not work. The sets, personalities standing around trying to be cool and hip and coming across as awkward and embarrassing and just trying too hard. Not to mention that I find a lot of Sportsnet's announcers unwatchable. So many things were just awful. Strombo has gotta fit in somewhere....just not on HNIC. Rogers tried too hard to reinvent the whole broadcast and fell flat. They have a lot of mistakes to fix. CBC and TSN were/are so much better at it.

June 21, 2016 @ 4:10 PM

Irv

@GB

Well I don't think it's a surprise that the quality of the show declined. I believe HNIC consulted to American networks on how to broadcast the game properly. Guys like Bob Cole, Dick Irvin, etc made the game. It was more fun to watch the game on TV than be there live before it was such a great show.

I am not a fan of CBC Television (but I am of the radio). In fact I never watch it anymore but I think there is a repeater in this town. But I had no issue with CBC hosting the games. Hockey IS part of Canadian culture. The CBC had the coverage that pretty much every living soul had free access to watch the show. No cable required either. They did a great job. Those days are long gone and not coming back.

And as a former sports fan I'm not returning to cable to watch sports. It irks me when I can't watch the Grey Cup on a local affiliate especially since I currently live in Western Canada (where CFL is God like). Hell it irks me that getting soccer during world championships is so difficult. Copa America? Go to the bar.

I think one of the most Canadian moments I ever had was years back when I was out in the East coast for business. There was a serious snow storm and I settled into this dumpy road side hotel. It had no cable and the tube TV's had those old fashioned bunny ears. I sat down with some East coast beer (I think it was Alpine) and watched a Habs game on a set of bunny ears. It was just a Canadian moment.

June 21, 2016 @ 8:31 PM

Wayner

I like Strombo, but he is still too 'urban" for the main stream. His short stint at CNN was informative but, unfortunately did not catch on...if anyone remembers J.D. Roberts from early Much Music days…he had to become “John Roberts” to achieve success in the broadcasting field (albeit US) and was poised to replace Dan Rather at one point.

If Strombo wants that kind of success he will have to conform at some point. It seems sad that the biggest criticisms levied against him were about his clothes…

…and that he was not Ron Mclean

June 22, 2016 @ 11:03 AM

Wayner

I like Strombo, but he is still too 'urban" for the main stream. His short stint at CNN was informative but, unfortunately did not catch on...if anyone remembers J.D. Roberts from early Much Music days…he had to become “John Roberts” to achieve success in the broadcasting field (albeit US) and was poised to replace Dan Rather at one point.

If Strombo wants that kind of success he will have to conform at some point. It seems sad that the biggest criticisms levied against him were about his clothes…

…and that he was not Ron Maclean

June 22, 2016 @ 11:04 AM

Irv

@Wayner

JD Roberts is a great example but I'm not sure it's an relevant example. Is there really any demand for that 1970's style Dan Rather type in this day and age? The whole concept of the evening news is a product targeting 50+.

As for CNN, I don't think it was so much a Strombo thing, but a CNN thing. The only thing good on that network is Anthony Bourdain. It's become a cartoon of itself.

He'd be smarter to carve out a niche in new media.

June 22, 2016 @ 12:08 PM

Anonymous

The problem with Strombo was not that he dressed like a hipster. The problem was he is a 40+ yr old man who dressed like a 25 yr old. That and a trendy haircut on someone whose face looked every bit its age made him look 'slick'.

Fairly or not, TV is a superficial medium. If he looks incongruous to the point of people questioning his abilities, that's a problem. By the time he did tone it down, it was too late.

He never asserted himself on the panel, either; he always seemed a beat off getting right in there with the panelists.

I enjoyed the two (three?) roundtable interviews he did with the players. I thought that was his strength. I'd love to see that be a regular feature during the 2nd intermission.

July 12, 2016 @ 4:57 AM

Anonymous

Agree with the Gord Cutler comment. Interesting that a lot of the changes were his, but keep in mind they were also approved by people above him. Scott Moore and Keith Pelley. Rick Brace won't put up with any more crap. And, I also agree with comments re: "the set". You don't always have to sit around a table (as they do a lot), but standing on fake ice and banging sticks, etc....it's a little silly. A HNIC viewer could care less about that. Rogers failed to understand how much of a Canadian tradition HNIC is...and the further you get away from what it was....the less inclined the remaining viewers will engage with it. To be honest, I think they just saved it from a complete disaster!

August 26, 2016 @ 8:13 PM

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