Among the several giant heads that loom over the Front Street entrance of the CBC’s Toronto Broadcast Centre is that of George Stroumboulopoulos.
It was a bit odd, then, to walk past his smiling visage to get to a news conference where his new bosses at Rogers, who bought exclusive NHL broadcast rights out from under the noses of the CBC (and TSN) in November, announced that Stroumboulopoulos would be the new host of Hockey Night in Canada, the 60-year CBC staple that Rogers essentially scooped up for nothing in exchange for allowing the public broadcaster to keep some hockey on the public airwaves.
Generally, when media companies poach high-profile talent from one another, the organization that the talent is leaving keeps quiet about it. But there was Strombo, as he is known at the behest of spell-checkers everywhere, alongside Don Cherry and Ron MacLean, three fellows who were as identifiable as CBC types as anyone this side of Peter Mansbridge, taking to a stage at the CBC to say that they were happy to now be working for Rogers. The village had been sacked, and the conquering army was adding a few of the vanquished to its side.
“Don’t screw this up,” MacLean joked when he shook hands with Stroumboulopoulos on stage, after being introduced by Scott Moore, president of Sportsnet and Rogers’ NHL Properties. While the initial impression was that Rogers had opted for youth in hiring the former MuchMusic veejay to become the first-ever hipster host of an NHL studio show, Strombo, at 41, is 15 years older than was MacLean when he took over Hockey Night from Dave Hodge, who had also been given the job while in his 20s. (Photo: Darren Calabrese/National Post)