I want to start off the week with a salute to the powers-that-be at Hockey Night In Canada. It’s tough to admit you made a mistake. In 2014 it was announced the long-time and well-liked host Ron MacLean was being replaced with George Strombolopolous to try and attract more and younger viewers to HNIC, which had been taken over by Rogers from CBC, although CBC was given 4 more years of showing games on the hockey night of all nights, Saturday.
MacLean was relegated to hosting Coach’s Corner. Big mistake. An Angus Reid poll showed that 74% of Canadians felt dropping MacLean to a lesser role hurt the show’s brand and I agreed. Happily, the big mistake has been corrected. Rogers Sportsnet has confirmed Ron MacLean will replace Strombo this fall in the main chair for the early Saturday games, returning to the role he had for nearly 30 years. Will this mean a resurgence in ratings? Maybe, but perhaps not to historic levels. The more Canadian-based teams that win will help but there is also more serious competition for viewers near the beginning and end of the hockey season, fall and spring, in the wake of the success of the Blue Jays and the Raptors plus the ever growing popularity of soccer. However, at least HNIC fans will get back their favourite host who has an encyclopedic knowledge of the game and who appeals to all ages. Oh, and Happy Independence Day to our American friends.