The short lived hosting duties on Hockey Night in Canada for George Strombo

Discussion in 'The History of Hockey' started by Big Phil, Nov 3, 2018.

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  1. Big Phil

    Big Phil Registered User

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    I can never spell his name correctly so I am going to say "Strombo" for this one. We all know who it is.

    Anyway, what is your take on this? I thought it was a mistake initially to replace MacLean with Strombo. Look, the guy does seem like someone who you could sit and have a beer with and talk hockey. I'll even forgive him for being a Habs fan, in fact it would liven the debate. But there was just something desperate that came out of that choice. It is almost as if Rogers wanted a "young, hip" host in there to draw more younger fans. It doesn't work that way. HNIC has been about tradition and substance and sort of routine. No one is going to tune in more so because of Strombo or even if you had thrown Mike Myers in there.

    The problem I think there was with him was that he looked out of place with the other hosts. Despite being in his 40s he still had a garage band sort of look to him. His tie wasn't always done up, his beard was messy, he still had piercings in his ear and he just never seemed to fit in with the discussion. MacLean, for all his faults, was a seasoned vet when it came to this stuff. He seemed to be able to lead the discussions better.

    MacLean did hang around Rogers with that Hometown Hockey program. I get the feeling they wanted him there just in case things didn't work out (hello NBC and the Leno/Conan scenario). Then after two years in 2016 and the first time since 1970 that no Canadian team made the playoffs they let him go and ratings were sagging.

    Was it fair? Or should he have never been there in the first place?
     
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  2. Mike Farkas

    Mike Farkas Grace Personified

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    You can't replace Ron. Those are nearly impossible shoes to fill.

    I get what they were trying to do in desperation but that was too drastic, too off-putting...
     
  3. BraveCanadian

    BraveCanadian Registered User

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    It was a dumb move. Trying to appeal to a younger audience when TV audiences (and probably many NHL markets that have priced themselves out of normal families -- Toronto) are aging. As you mentioned, he isn't even a hipster just an old guy hanging on to that image. I think it was just a clash, along with all the gimmicky in studio stuff they tried that was just awful. Felt kind of.. American.. as a style of broadcast. Yuck. :)
     
  4. Killion

    Killion Registered User

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    "felt.... American"?..... I wouldnt say that BC, most US Broadcasters have more sense than what Rogers tried to pull. US Broadcasters would not have recruited a host from the ranks of MTV, a VJ/DJ and installed him as "Host/Anchor"... and which by all accounts was done so on the recommendation/request of Gary Bettman who was a fan of Georges' having been a guest on his CBC chat show, enjoying his softball approach to questioning, conversation.

    For George, you really cant blame him for jumping at the opportunity, seminal, historical platform, HNIC, the $$$ was great (including the Golden Parachute if it didnt work out). His "Best Before Date" had pretty much expired in appealing to the younger audiences, music format, pop culture, urban Hipsters, was getting on in years, time for a career transition, move. And unfortunately, he didnt leave enough of that persona behind him, didnt go full makeover. With the skinny pants, tight fitting suits, body piercings etc, whole demeanor off-putting to the core demographic. Was not appealing to the hoped for younger eyeballs outside of his known milieu of music & entertainment, to wit he is actually quite knowledgeable. HNIC Host? You frickin kiddin? Round peg, square hole. Real dumb move by Rogers.

    This was all discussed at length on the Business of Hockey Board here as it was happening, from his selection to why, ratings plummeting, Rogers losing it by the truck load & so on. I dont blame George for jumping at the opportunity I blame Rogers for being so stupid, subservient to the NHL & Bettman. Several individuals in the Executive suites & the Executive Producer (a guy Rogers recruited from CBC) who made a real hash of things & who should have been fired, would have been if a US Based Network for sure. Seriously ham handed, amateurs, idiots. Its History now of course so sure, appropriate forum to discuss though Rogers, overpaying as they did for NHL Rights, NHL sycophants, compliant to the sterilization they wish & hope for, demand.... still losing huge revenues as audiences continue to drift away, cutting cable.... That whole deal that went down in negotiations between the NHL & CBC, with Rogers, absolutely crazy. Rogers losing the rights to the HNIC Theme Song... installing Strombo..... on & on & on. Only in Canada, the UK, Australia do you see such incompetency. US a model of creative & solid casting, execution in comparison & even there, all kinds of mis-steps, mistakes. So no, wouldnt be calling this an "American thing". Totally Canadian, totally NHL, totally incompetent and dysfunctional as per usual.
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2018
  5. FerrisRox

    FerrisRox Registered User

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    I'm in the minority here, but I was happy with the choice. George knew his hockey, began his broadcasting career in sports and I was very pleased to see Sportsnet try and breathe some new life in the telecasts and make them less folksy and boring.

    I had zero issues with Strombo, and found it frankly bizarre that people would complain about things like his jeans being too tight, his piercings, his beard, his jewelry etc. He was constantly criticized for being a "Much Music" guy, a job he hadn't held in over a decade and since that time had worked steadily at both CBC and CNN as a host for programming that wasn't aimed at the demo at all, so it was a strange cherry-picked criticism. I thought all of those were the strangest things to take issue with.

    It was also quite odd to see people repeatedly complaining about his "hockey knowledge" because 1) his job is to direct the conversations and do intros and outros, Ron MacLean was never dropping analysis on you 2) he actually did know hockey.

    I had hoped, when Sportsnet took over, that Ron & Don were going to be sent out to pasture and initially, the plan was to have Don only do one season of the "new" HNIC but after people lost their minds about Strombo coming on, those plans were scrapped.

    It's a shame, too, because the Coach's Corner segment is so hopelessly dated and predictable it's long since become an absolute waste of time.
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2018
  6. Dennis Bonvie

    Dennis Bonvie Registered User

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    Maybe its just because I'm an old fart, but I just love Ron McLean. Didn't care who replaced him, just replacing him period really bothered me.
     
  7. Dennis Bonvie

    Dennis Bonvie Registered User

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    I try never to miss it.

    Also notice there are still a fair amount of commercials between the intro for Coaches Corner and the actual show. Somebody must be watching.
     
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  8. Mike Farkas

    Mike Farkas Grace Personified

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    Yeah, HNIC from wall to wall is must watch TV for me as an American...
     
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  9. Big Phil

    Big Phil Registered User

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    I agree with you and Killion in a way. It felt like something the NHL would do. And to an extent "American" when you think of the Stephen A. Smith/Skip Bayless/Shannon Sharpe types. Not that Strombo had their personality, but those guys are there purposely to disrupt, not to provide insight. They are there as a "hip" move. Like Strombo, but for different reasons.

    I always felt that with Strombo he was still talking to the audience like they were his MTV-style audience. Fast paced, as if we all have ADHD. I was almost waiting for him to bring a bazooka and shoot t-shirts out. It was that kind of "forced" feel with him that has nothing to do with HNIC. I mean, Ward Cornell, Dave Hodge, MacLean.............they never had to do that before, the lure was that it was Saturday night and you were watching hockey and everything was familiar. That's how it worked for years.

    I often wonder, what was the relationship like between Strombo and Ron and Don, but especially Ron?
     
  10. JackSlater

    JackSlater Registered User

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    I agree with what most have said - it wasn't a good fit of the brand with the person. Trying to bring in a new audience is a good thing, but not if it happens at the expense of your built in audience. Particularly so if the built in audience is likely bigger than any potential audience that might be gained.
     
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  11. Thenameless

    Thenameless Registered User

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    Deep inside, I'm sure even Strombo knew that he could never replace Ron MacLean.

    The level of backlash was appropriate. It's not so much that Strombo was bad, it has more to do with how good Ron MacLean is at his job. He's a fountain of knowledge, a hockey guy through and through, and he has a pleasant delivery with just the right amount of both soft and hard content. He's a pleasure to watch, and irreplaceable. I feel the same way about Bob Cole.
     
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  12. streitz

    streitz Registered User

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    Don't like him but not really familiar with his HNIC stuff since it's well past the time I stopped watching NHL hockey.
     
  13. the4thlinegrinder

    the4thlinegrinder Registered User

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    It was obviously a mistake to replace Ron with Strombo, but one thing Strombo did quite well was the round table-style sit down interviews with players. I found players tended to open up a bit more and they had some interesting insights that hockey players usually don’t share. Had Rogers used Strombo in that sort of a role, say maybe a weekly interview during the 2nd intermission, I think he would still be around and those (like myself) who didn’t like Strombo in the hosting role would’ve been fine with and even enjoyed him in that role.
     
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  14. Killion

    Killion Registered User

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    Yeah, a lot of this. While he did start out in sports and with MuchMusic some 10yrs in in the past thats what people know of him, typecast, then his work over the decade that followed very much "alternative", DJ'ing, CBC FM, his chat show & so on. As a person, he's quite likeable actually & yes, excellent interviewer. Wouldnt have taken the job if he didnt love the game, the NHL. Does have some knowledge in that regard that is not puddle deep however coming from where he had to a considerable number he just didnt have the necessary Street Cred. Hadnt paid his dues with sports talk & hockey talk, writing about it extensively or whatever. So what we saw, this middle aged Man/Boy of an urban hipster... well, c'mon here. WTF is this? ...

    @FerrisRox .... Look, I'm ok with guys who wear earrings provided they wear the earrings & the earrings dont wear them... I'm not ok with guys (or women) who are in their late 30's, 40's, 50's dressing like teenagers, 20 year olds. Sorry. Dont care about the hair, facial or otherwise, whatever you want... even tattoo's. Im ok with that at any age though initially didnt like the trend. Dont have any myself but ok.... So George there, he had several things going on that absolutely worked against him. I was sick of Ron McLean, CBC's ratings prior to SN taking over were dropping like meteors as it was so no, not buying this "he failed because he had a tough act to follow". He just wasnt credible. Enthusiastic yes. Shame really as he is a talented guy. Loves the game, music, the arts etc. Great guy. But a bad choice. And hey, he made out like a bandit. Good for him.
     
  15. Francis Vernal

    Francis Vernal Registered User

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    There was a comedy skit about this very thing.

     
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  16. vadim sharifijanov

    vadim sharifijanov ugh

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    i mostly remember kypreos always staring at him with this look that said, one day it’ll just be me and you in a dark alley and i will eat your liver when i’m done with you.
     
  17. VanIslander

    VanIslander Don't waste my time

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    His name is Stroumboulopoulos.

    I grew up on Panagopoulos Pizza.
    (in B.C. now called Panago Pizza)

    Then there is Stephanopoulos,
    a current ABC news anchor and former White House communications director.

    -opoulos is a Greek ending that literally means "bird".
     
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  18. The Panther

    The Panther Registered User

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    It was a predictable disaster. Strombo seems a nice guy you could sit down and have a nice chat with, but I've always found his style of speaking/interviewing to be horrible. He mumbles his way through rambling, incoherent questions that the interviewees cannot comprehend. It can be cringe-worthy.

    I think they were hoping for a kind of HNIC youth-appeal revival, akin to NBC's The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. The problem (besides Strombo's interview style) is that George's appeal is very limited. Anyone under 30 finds him an aging pseudo-hipster with wacky fashion, and anyone over 40-45 finds him embarrassing.
     
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  19. Killion

    Killion Registered User

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    ..... :laugh: Bingo. Ive read this sentiment, opinion before, almost word for word. Prevailing wisdom on the matter for sure. He was at an age, stage in his career whereby some reinvention required. His original audience had aged, moved on, grown up, got married, had kids.... the younger generations naturally not exactly gravitating to him.... so he did move on, from MM to CBC FM, DJ'ing, CBC TV latenight & other projects. But ya, totally agree, you could see disaster written all over that pick.

    Going back a generation, years really, I wasnt at all impressed with Ron McLean initially and found his little puns (still do) extremely cloying, annoying, idiotic, off-putting. Never a huge fan of the guy however years later I did read his book, bio, quickly warming up to him. Raised as an Army Brat, has lead an extremely interesting life, obviously a very hard worker, truly loves the game, players, people. He apparently also acting very much as a Producer or Executive Producer beyond his role as merely "Host". Very much concerned with continuity, quality control. Liked, still like Dave Hodge... his predecessor... the ever funereal Ward Cornell..... a Teacher at a private school by day, lengthy career..... his gig at HNIC just part time, wasnt a F/T Broadcaster....
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2018
  20. The Panther

    The Panther Registered User

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    I think, when Ron McLean arrived during 1986-87 (I vaguely remember it), he was perfect because he was young, energetic, and ambitious (like Strombo... though George was older), but also McLean was kind of a dorky super-nerd with a conservative manner that fit in perfectly with HNIC's traditional past. That was a good balance.
     
  21. FerrisRox

    FerrisRox Registered User

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    I'll take tight pants, a skull ring and a bad piercing over those stupid puns any day.
     
  22. Big Phil

    Big Phil Registered User

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    That was the thing, I get the feeling that the rest of the panel had this "really, him?" sort of attitude. Not that any of them said things publicly but you got that vibe. You have to wonder though, if ratings were higher and say the Leafs were in the playoffs in 2016 among other Canadian teams would he still be in the hosting chair? My guess is that he still wouldn't be.

    What I found as such a shock is that MacLean never said a bad word about the whole thing. That had to drive him nuts though. Some hipster takes your spot you've been anchoring for 30 years and you have to sit and watch that for 2 years. How he never showed his true feelings about that I'll never know but good on him.


    The thing is, even that didn't work did it? Late night television ratings are horrible nowadays and I don't even think Fallon who is in the enviable position of being in the same chair and show Johnny Carson once hosted has the highest ratings. To me, MacLean was like Leno. Yeah, he irritates some, but he is the face of HNIC just like Leno was the face of NBC or at least the Tonight Show. Both were like macaroni and cheese, a safe bet with a broad audience. Ironically the Strombo and Fallon switches both happened in 2014.
     
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  23. vadim sharifijanov

    vadim sharifijanov ugh

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    you can’t hate a broadcaster more than i hate ron maclean. he always just seemed like a scum bag.

    from being don cherry’s straight man (maybe it was my age and the late 80s/early 90s but did anyone else get a vince mcmahon being the straight man to jerry the king lawler vibe?) to his hatchet job on alex burrows, he just always struck me as smug and crooked, and all that small town canadiana stuff felt alternately gross and disingenuous.

    [​IMG]

    upload_2018-11-4_13-49-55.png

    and his sanctity of the refs bs?

    upload_2018-11-4_13-53-2.jpeg

    compared to him, strombo just kind of felt like a guy who meant well and tried hard but was just way out of his element.
     
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  24. streitz

    streitz Registered User

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    I'm not too familiar with Burrows but isn't he just your standard mediocre diver ala crappy Claude Lemieux?


    If so those guys exist for hatchet jobs.







    Maclean is what he is, he's the yuppie hockey guru. I always liked Cherry more, just for all the controversy he caused.
     
  25. streitz

    streitz Registered User

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    I wouldn't.
     
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