If it ain’t broke, don’t bother fixing it.
When George Stroumboulopoulos was originally tapped as host of Hockey Night in Canada in 2014, Rogers Communications had anticipated that the former late-night talk show host would bring in a younger demographic to the iconic show. Well, ratings didn’t go as what Rogers had anticipated it would be, and as part of restructuring the hockey broadcasts for the 2016-17 NHL season, it was decided to go back to what originally made Hockey Night Hockey Night.
Ron MacLean, who originally hosted Hockey Night in Canada from 1986-2014, is taking back the host’s chair in 2016. As part of his commitment to Rogers Hometown Hockey and Coach’s Corner with Don Cherry, MacLean will only host Hockey Central Saturday and the first game of the Hockey Night in Canada doubleheader. David Amber, who had been a rinkside reporter for of Hockey Night in Canada since 2011, will host the second game of the Hockey Night in Canada doubleheader, as well as Hockey Central Postgame.
However, there are some that believe rehiring MacLean is a big mistake. Former ESPN/MSNBC personality Keith Olbermann compares this move to what NBC did with The Tonight Show in 2010. In 2008, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno was losing the late-night wars to David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel. Four years prior, Leno’s successor, Conan O Brien, signed a contract extension to remain at NBC with the intention of succeeding Leno as the host of The Tonight Show. When Leno extended his own contract under NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Zucker that same year, Zucker said it was probably going to be his last contract he’ll ever sign. When Conan took over as host of The Tonight Show in 2009, ratings were a hit. As for Leno, he would move his show to the 10 PM/ 9PM time slot and be renamed The Jay Leno Show as the lead-in to local news. It didn’t work, as ratings for local news plummeted by October. After 7 months, it was decided that Jay Leno would return as the host of The Tonight Show on March 1. He would continue to host The Tonight Show until 2014. During Leno’s second stint as host, The Tonight Show topped the late-night ratings.
I honestly don’t know if this is the Jay Leno situation again, but after as season where NO CANADIAN TEAMS QUALIFIED FOR THE STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS, the writing was on the wall that changes would be necessary to make Hockey Night Hockey Night once again. Other changes made by Rogers regarding Hockey Night in Canada was the release of rinkside analyst Glenn Healy, studio analyst P.J. Stock, and the cancellation of Hockey Central that aired before Hockey Night in Canada on Sportsnet 360 and on NHL Network in the United States.
For more about this story, read this article from CBC News national arts reporter Deana Sumanac-Johnson.