Sorry, Ron McLean Fans; Strombo is Here to Stay


by David Shoalts, The Globe and Mail



Ron MacLean appreciates the support of viewers who are not happy with his reduced role on Hockey Night in Canada, but he doesn’t expect any changes as a result of a poll fewer than six weeks into the first season of a new version of the show.

An Angus Reid Institute survey of 1,504 adult Canadians about their thoughts on HNIC, now being produced by Rogers Media network Sportsnet, the new Canadian NHL broadcast rights holders, found that 74 per cent of them felt MacLean’s reduced role hurt the show’s brand. George Stroumboulopoulos, who replaced MacLean as the host of HNIC, did not fare well in the survey, which was not a surprise given that it is early days for the new look and people tend to resist change. The poll found that 60 per cent of those surveyed do not think Stroumboulopoulos, an accomplished interviewer and host, is a “credible replacement” for MacLean.

MacLean, who serves as host of the Hometown Hockey segments on Sunday night Sportsnet broadcasts and is still on Coach’s Corner with Don Cherry, said Stroumboulopoulos, 42, does not have anything to worry about.

“George will be fine,” MacLean, 54, said on Tuesday. “He’s in the same crosshairs I found myself once upon a time.”

Once upon a time was March, 1987, when MacLean was promoted to the host’s chair at HNIC under far worse circumstances than Stroumboulopoulos’s debut on the most popular TV show in Canada. MacLean, who started in the business doing local TV weather reports in his native Red Deer, Alta., was thrust into the host’s role late in the NHL season because Dave Hodge was dumped after expressing his anger on the air over a decision by CBC bosses to cut away from a game that went into overtime in favour of the news.

While MacLean eventually became as popular with the Canadian public as Hodge, at the time he was the relative unknown replacing a beloved star whose firing angered many viewers.

MacLean said it was “extremely difficult” to replace Hodge and he sees the parallels in that situation with this week’s poll results from Angus Reid.

“The first thing I would say is what was the Angus Reid poll back in ’87, when I replaced Dave Hodge?” MacLean said. “I’m sure the numbers would have been precisely the same, if not a greater outcry.”

The fact most viewers rue MacLean’s reduced role does not surprise him because he says a TV brand is built over a number of years, and for reasons that go beyond individual personalities. When people have that much loyalty invested in a show, change is unsettling.

“It really comes down to the branding, and branding is three things: frequency, consistency and then anchoring,” MacLean said. “Anchoring is the tricky one to explain, but anchoring is how something makes you feel, a Rockwell painting [for example]. Certain things just evoke a good warm and fuzzy feeling.

“That branding takes place over quite a period of time, so that’s what always gives the incumbent the edge.”



  1. Be gracious Ron, but you ARE better at the job than Strombo. He’s great in his own studio, late at night but not in the TSN studio.

  2. george was a bold choice and i believe it will work out fine. there is no absolute in a situation like this. you can take different paths and still come out positive. george has a good personality and he’s a great sit down interviewer, with his own unique style. hopefully his hockey knowledge and intuition will be on par with mclean’s.

    ps – i’m happy to see less of pj stock.

  3. I am, correction, was a huge fan of HNIC, Ron, Don, PJ, Kelly, Glen & the rest. It was a very enjoyable evening of hockey & information. I heard George was coming to HNIC & wondered where he was going to be put. I thought, there was no place to put him & I am right. He is not adding anything to the Saturday night hockey. I so looked forward to Saturday HNIC as I am shut in a lot of the winter. Now, I watch the games when the guys are playing & definitely watch Coaches Corner. As for the rest of the talking time, it’s turned to another channel, or muted. Who ever made this change, I don’t think they should be in a power position. Ron says we will get used to it, well this we won’t. Please come back Ron & bring the rest of your crew, I’m afraid I will never be a HNIC George fan.

  4. I think Strombo is wasted on hockey and does not have the right energy for it. Ron McLean seemed more suited & was fun with Don Cherry. Strombo may love hockey but he comes across as an interviewer not high energy and fun. On his show he is close up and personal and engaging and a people person and it really works. Seems like pretty high-priced help to be doing hockey interviews when there are already 4 or 5 much more macho high-energy sports guys there who are more suited to it and he has to share the stage with. Strombo does not fit in.

  5. ‎stromboulopoulos‬ talking about Bieksa fighting the other night makes me want to m-80 the television. He’s about as welcome there as a rattlesnake at a square dance. He’s really fidgety, makes the worst jokes ex: Claytom Stoner’s favorite artist is Snoop Dog. I’m sorry but there is no place in hockey sportscastign for this.

  6. I like both men as interviewers and I tend to agree with Ron when he says George will get along just fine. I hope the networks have the grace to thank Mr. Maclean for his efforts and give him some plum assignments like doing specials eg. Wayne the Great, Gordie Howe interviews and specials. He deserves nothing less. Would have liked Don Cherry replaced but that is just IMHO. Give George a chance, please.

  7. he is very fidgety…i find the energy kind of uncomfortable. it might have worked on his late show, but it is kind of unnerving on HNIC. as usual though, mclean is the gentleman and very generous with his comments. i guess they are trying to draw in a younger audience…maybe we will get used to it or just go make a snack when he is on.

  8. Give George Stroumboulopoulos a chance. He is also a true Canadian, already showing his skills at talking sports during the Sochi Olympics. He loves hockey as much as Ron MacLean. Strombo has proven his mettle in the talk show arena. He’ll be fine.

  9. Ron McLean was a terrible interviewer and an even worse moderator. Compared to TSN, (well, there is no comparison!), the HNIC panel was a joke. It was time for a change and George will come into his own for sure.

  10. Anyone would be more qualified then George. He is horrible and is wrecking the feel of HNIC
    Replace him ASAP! If Ron isn’t your first choice choose another give Mallard a shot or marek before. More fans turn off hnic and rogers hockey all together

  11. Nobody ever likes change. But hockey fans always love hockey. I disagree with replacing Ron because he is a likable guy and good at it. But I doubt this will hurt HNIC as much as other changes will – like which games they will broadcast.

  12. Ron shows the grace and humility of a good Canadian here. We wish well always and thank him for his contributions now and for all the years on CBC.

  13. What is Sportsnet thinking???? Strombo for Mclean. Please. Send him back where he belongs with his tight black pants, ugly tieless black shirt and NO CLASS! Would like to know how this host (George) gets away dressing the way he does when all others – fellows- are dressed so classy and appealing to the viewer. Those red Chairs???? The “panel” looks as comfrtable in them as sitting on nails?? Smarten up Rogers – this guy is awful!


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