Are we witnessing the end of Don Cherry’s stranglehold on Saturday night?
That was one of the key questions raised after it was announced that Rogers Communications had paid $5.2 billion to take over all English-language NHL broadcasting in Canada, including the venerable Hockey Night In Canada, after this season.
And with new owners calling the shots, many assumed or hoped that the new 12-year media rights deal, the biggest such agreement in NHL history, meant Cherry’s days were numbered.
Grapes, of course, isn’t buying it.
“They’ve been saying that for 30 years” he told CBC’s Andi Petrillo on Thursday. “I know I’m No. 1 and Coach’s Corner is No. 1 and what are you going to do?”
You can’t blame the man for his defiant attitude. He’s always kept the wolves at bay before. But the fact of the matter is that Hockey Night In Canada and, by extension, Cherry’s job, belong to Rogers now. The show may be an icon, but it’s their icon. And it’s almost inconceivable after making that kind of investment that they would not take the opportunity to put their stamp on the brand.
So the question is, what do they want Hockey Night In Canada to look like?