George Stroumboulopoulos said it will be a "dream" to anchor next season's Hockey Night in Canada.
Rogers Communications introduced Stroumboulopoulos at a press conference on Tuesday as one of the new faces of Hockey Night when the telecom and media firm takes control of Canada's NHL broadcasting rights.
'George … don’t screw this up, it’s a big show' - Ron MacLean, dispensing advice to new Hockey Night host George Stroumboulopoulos
The multiple Gemini award-winning talk show host of CBC's George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight will join Hockey Night's Ron MacLean and Don Cherry, along with Sportsnet's Daren Millard and Jeff Marek as the "cornerstones" of the new hockey coverage, Rogers said in a release.
Stroumboulopoulos said that a big role in the hockey media world was a long-standing dream of his and Marek's since they started their careers in promotions at the Fan 590 radio station.
"It took 20 years to get to this place," Stroumboulopoulos said. "What a dream."
The hiring of the fast-talking Stroumboulopoulos as the new face of Hockey Night is the first major personnel change made by Rogers after acquiring the NHL Canadian broadcasting rights in a blockbuster 12-year, $5.2-billion deal in November.
Scott Moore, president of Sportsnet and NHL properties for Rogers, introduced the “top line” of his hockey broadcasting scene during a live telecast from the CBC studios. While the CBC may have been “where the tradition of broadcasting hockey began,” Moore said, he’s hoping to bring a “fresh face” to the game.
Hockey fans can look forward to big games being broadcast on different channels such as Citytv and on additional days, including Sunday, Moore said. More announcements to come will include new technology for mobile devices.
“You do have to be aware that people are watching hockey differently. They’re watching it with two, three or more screens.”
Moore also faced a sharp question about the absence of women on a broadcast team he called “the face of hockey on Rogers.”
“There will be more announcements in the coming weeks,” Moore said, before praising the work of Sportsnet hockey reporter Christine Simpson, who hosted the event.
Rogers has plans for MacLean, too
MacLean is set to anchor a new Sunday hockey show that Rogers is hoping will combine elements of ESPN's prized College GameDay telecast with Hockey Night. He'll also be reprising his role as Don Cherry's wingman on the Coach's Corner segment on Saturday nights.
As he strode onto the stage Monday, MacLean shook hands with Stroumboulopoulos and gave him some advice about hosting Hockey Night: "George … don’t screw this up, it’s a big show.”
MacLean said he was also excited about the new Sunday show, which he hopes will bring the NHL — hockey's "biggest show" — directly to rink rats across Canada.
The outspoken Cherry couldn't resist taking a few jabs at his new boss Moore, who has also spent time at the CBC.
“Usually when I get rid of the bosses they’re gone for good,” Cherry said, to chuckles from the press gathered for the event.
"I knew that Rogers would never mess with the greatest segment on television," Cherry said.
Millard, the host of Sportsnet's existing mid-week NHL broadcasts and daytime radio coverage, will host Wednesday Night Hockey on Sportsnet starting in the fall and continue hosting the radio show Hockey Central @ Noon, Moore said.
Marek, who left Hockey Night in Canada to join Sportsnet in 2007, will host Thursday Night Hockey on Sportsnet 360, as well as weekend afternoon NHL pre-game shows on Sportsnet starting this fall.
CBC to continue airing Saturday-night games
Hockey Night in Canada will continue to air Saturday nights on CBC through a sub-licensing agreement Rogers made with the public broadcaster in November, although Rogers will retain editorial control.
Earlier, CBC announced that George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight will not be returning after this season, bringing an end to the Gemini-award winning show following its 10th season.
Jennifer Dettman, the CBC's executive director of studio and unscripted content, said in a statement Monday that Stroumboulopoulos Tonight "has had an incredible run, racking up awards and accolades through the years."
"Thank you to the team for creating a show each and every night that makes us proud," Dettman wrote. "Anyone who has done daily television knows how challenging it can be, but you set the bar for how it should be done."
During its run, Stroumboulopoulos Tonight attracted guests from all walks of life, including world leaders, musical legends, sports figures, acclaimed writers and the who’s who of Hollywood.
Shot in front of a live studio audience, the show won four Gemini awards for best talk series in Canada and a Gracie for outstanding talk show. Stroumboulopoulos himself won six consecutive Geminis for best host or interviewer in a talk series.
The show premiered in 2005, under the name The Hour. The name was changed to George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight in 2010 and shortened from an hour to a half hour.