I will be the first to admit that the National Hockey League (NHL) doesn’t rank in my top-3 favourite sports to watch.
Yes, my beloved hometown Edmonton Oilers remain glued to the basement floor of the Western Conference standings, but I still watch them play when I can.
Sometimes their games are on TSN. Sometimes their games are on one of the many Sportsnet channels. Other times still, the Oilers grace the nation with their presence on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada (HNIC).
The channels I, and other NHL fans use to watch one of our favourite 32 teams is about to change.
On Tuesday, Rogers Communications took control of the rights to NHL broadcasts in Canada with a 12-year, $5.2-billion deal that includes the playoffs and the Stanley Cup Final.
The deal — the biggest of its kind in the history of the league — was a surprising blockbuster move that will see Rogers keep HNIC, but limit CBC’s role in the delivery of it.
In simpler terms, Rogers will have the right to choose who it wants as on-air content for HNIC. That means the longtime Coach’s Corner duo of Ron MacLean and Don Cherry may soon sing their swansong.
Since hockey never factored into my athletic foray of activities as a child, I did not fixate my eyes on the television come Saturday night to watch Ron and Don.
Growing up I remember the crazy suits Cherry wore, and still continues to wear during Coach’s Corner segments, but it’s not like I religiously watched them just to see what he would say or wear on-air.
Therefore, unlike a host of other Canadians, I don’t figure to lose any sleep over what could be Cherry and MacLean’s impending departure from the television airwaves.
There have been iconic on-air broadcast personalities in the past that are still remembered today, including John Madden and Pat Summerall, who called National Football League games together for 22 years.
Fifty years after MacLean and Cherry complete their final edition of Coach’s Corner — whenever that may be — they too will continue to be remembered for their plethora of comments, head-shaking moments and, of course, Cherry’s flair for stylistic suits.
For the time being, however, I’m going to enjoy watching Ron and Don until Rogers cross-checks them into the boards.
Nathan Liewicki can be reached at 306-691-1256 or follow him on Twitter @liewicks