The overhaul of ``Hockey Night in Canada'' has begun.
Rogers executives took over a CBC-TV studio Monday to tout an upcoming NHL broadcast season that, under its guidance, will ``be a season like never before'' with a ``fresh face.''
That fresh face is CBC-TV personality George Stroumboulopoulos, who will be the new host of ``Hockey Night in Canada,'' taking over from veteran anchor Ron MacLean, whose Saturday night role will be trimmed to co-host of Coach's Corner.
Rogers boss Scott Moore admits Stroumboulopoulos was recruited in a bid to attract a broader audience to the media giant's various sports channels, especially as younger viewers appear to be increasingly tuning out of TV entirely.
``We want to get a little bit younger, we want to catch that demo that is not necessarily coming to the television at all _ that are either playing video games or not going out and participating in the games _ we want to get a new breed of Canadian fans that get passionate about the games,'' Moore, president of Sportsnet and NHL properties, said following a televised news conference.
``I think George does that, I think George brings a different sensibility but one of the great things is having him with the rest of the team. He'll sort of be like that 'Sesame Street' thing - one of these things is not like the others - but he'll bring something different and his own unique take on hockey broadcasting.''
The shakeup is Rogers' first major personnel change since acquiring the NHL broadcast rights in a blockbuster $5.2-billion deal in November.
MacLean and Don Cherry will continue to host their popular Coach's Corner segment, and MacLean will still host the annual ``Hockey Day in Canada'' show. In addition, MacLean will be involved in a new Sunday night telecast, ``Hometown Hockey Community Celebration,'' on City.
Meanwhile, Sportsnet personalities Daren Millard and Jeff Marek will also be part of the Rogers broadcast package. Millard, who will continue to host ``Hockey Central at Noon'' on Sportsnet 590 The Fan, will also host ``Wednesday Night Hockey'' on Sportsnet. Marek will be at the helm of ``Thursday Night Hockey'' on Sportsnet 360 in addition to weekend pre-game shows on Sportsnet.
Stroumboulopoulos, a 41-year-old Montreal Canadiens fan is a six-time Gemini Award and Canadian Screen Award winner who has worked as a television personality and radio broadcaster with CBC since 2005.
Before that, Stroumboulopoulos spent four years as a host at MuchMusic.
He started his career, though, in sports radio, as an NBA and NHL reporter with the Fan 590.
There has been some criticism that Stroumboulopoulos doesn't have enough of a sports background, but Howard Bloom with Sports Business News disagrees.
"He's an accomplished journalist. He's entertaining," Bloom says. "I think it's a great choice."
Bloom adds that by keeping MacLean and Cherry on Coach's Corner, Rogers will appease the traditionalists. As long as Rogers doesn't go as far as Fox did in the 90s by adding a "glow puck," Bloom says, the company should be successful.
"They'll discover pretty quickly if they go over the edge."