Is change in the air with Toronto Sports Media?


The drumbeats have been pounding ever since Rogers went all in with Bettman that changes are in the works for where and how we consume the real national game.

The rumour that I’ve been hearing about the most is the one that Steve Simmons alluded to this am in the return of his weekly column. Namely that the face of Rogers hockey could be the man that was recently considered for a spot on sports radio in a prominent slot, George Stroumboulopoulos.

It would appear that neither Ron Maclean or Darren Millard are going to be “the guy” and instead all the tongues are wagging about Stroumboulopoulos.

That’s not to suggest that either Mallard or Maclean are on the outs or won’t pay a role, however it doesn’t sound like they will play the prominent roles they do now.

The other story that’s making the rounds, is that the current Rogers deal was based upon a pitch that team TSN built and suggested to the league. Bettman apparently loved it and got Rogers to up the ante to a point where TSN execs said good luck with that. Like I said, that’s what I’m hearing – a lot.

So, Mike Richards has a new deal for three more years. I’m hearing that things are ripe for a little bit of a shift at TSN radio after the hockey season. Stay tuned.

Round and round things go at the globe and mail sports department. When it’s all said and done who will be left to turn off the lights?

Have you noticed the ever changing writing landscape in the Canadian sports world? Sportsnet on any given day has prominently featured several “younger” writers who at one point or another may have been accused of living in their basements wearing bathrobes. It’s been a long time since the likes of Down Goes Brown and James Mirtle appeared in print after being online scribes. More and more the likes of Tao of Stieb and others are appearing on the various, more mainstream websites. The latest was Tyler Delow appearing on Sportsnet. It’s great to see good writing being elevated irrespective of the source.

Enjoying the leafs on the radio? It sounds like major changes are coming in the booth there too at the end of the season.


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sam in oshawa
sam in oshawa
March 2, 2014 8:01 pm

TRADE TRACKER ALERT—Kipper just twerped that Steven Brunt has been traded to TSN coming back to SN are abag of pucks and afew interns to be named later. Pelley commenting “we need lots and lots of hockey guys and gals ” McCown reached at his rural “grande maison” said “Brunt could not buy into the all things hockey mindset we are aiming for, he was a downer and had to go”now get the fuck off of my property i have to feed the rooster and check in with the COACH. Contacted at home we were told Brunt was in the fetal position whispering Jose Bautistas name over and over again…sad… Duthie at TSN was heard to say “he’s not sitting on my fucking panel”

March 3, 2014 1:34 am

Strombo. Wow. Interesting choice.

Wonder if he’d do any work on The Fan again if that happens? From what I recall he was more of a basketball guy than anything else.

March 3, 2014 4:19 am

George would be a great add on if they could sign him. A very smart and entertaining person who seems to be a sports guy who is a very good when interviewing guests.

March 3, 2014 5:37 am

Trade cox and shannon to TSN for Arthur.

mike (in boston)
March 3, 2014 8:09 am

My question about Strombo is: which segment of the audience would be most happy with this move?

– old people who like Don Cherry? Nope
– young people who are into stats? Nope
– die-hard NHL fans? Unlikely, he’s not an insider, nor an established NHL personality
– women casual viewers? Maybe
– male casual viewers? Maybe

So, I guess I don’t really see the logic here. The most plausible target is casual fans, but this comes at the risk of pissing off the existing fan base. And, are there really casual hockey fans in Canada? Lastly, does this say anything about how Rogers view Eliotte Friedman? I thought he was the heir apparent.

D. Smith
D. Smith
March 3, 2014 9:47 am

Interesting. I’ve never been a fan of the sometimes incoherant ramblings of MacLean so anyone else would be good. Strombo or Freidman would be great for addition. I thought Duthie’s best work was as the Olympics not the hockey panel where he really dumbs it down.

March 3, 2014 11:05 am

If Strombo gets this gig, it only confirms my thought that he is one of the best ass-kissers in the business. How else could he possibly get that job? I can’t see this working. I agree with Mike (in Boston), it could very well alienate the viewing/buying audience that Rogers and their advertisers are looking for.

As for the Leaf radio broadcasters, I apologize for bagging on about them again, but the new play-by-play guy who was hired this season comes across as a young intern just excited at the opportunity to hang out. They need a seasoned professional to represent the wealthiest franchise in the NHL, not the amateur that currently fills in for Bowen.

sam in oshawa
sam in oshawa
March 3, 2014 11:11 am

Strombo- im a hockey puck i like i like…SN has to be bold in this move he is not a hockey insider. I want to be entertained not the same verbal shit about contracts term money. Make the show a weekly event… And for fuck sakes get rid of those big ugly desks that seem to be so common on these sets its annoying, c’mon Pelley take this to another level…another observation Srombo looks great in tight fitting pants…just say’in…

March 3, 2014 11:37 am

Strombo is awful. First question: How does someone (GS) with a speech impediment get a job in broadcasting??? Second question: Which broadcasting exec is in the photos that GS has? Third question: Why does the CBC keep him on the air despite his brutal rating?

March 3, 2014 12:05 pm

I have every confidence that Rogers will mess this up. Strombo will be expected to add credibility, but it will be like getting Ben Mulroney to do that job. Not as annoying a personality, but George will add the same kind of credibility. This is the NHL, not reporting from the red carpet at the Ocars or commenting on the Booker awards. George has a fan in Oprah. Does he have any fans in the Hockey world that will welcome this with open arms? (Hint: “No”).

I have grown wearly of Ron McLean and his obtuse references to obscure song Lyrics and trying to draw parallels to hockey…Lately, he’s using the word “Maple” to be synonymous with “Canadian”. Now he makes me both squirm AND cringe. Millard is just awful. He’s awkward and stupid, which is a bad mix in that role.

Whether you like TSN or not, they have done an excellent job showcasing the NHL. It will be interesting to watch Rogers mess this up (they always do)

Ken B
Ken B
March 3, 2014 8:57 pm

The almighty dollar ultimately talked with the Rogers/NHL deal, but hockey fans will feel the disservice next year if by small chance this is still the desperately thin talent pool that Rogers trots out. It will be very interesting what changes – Strombo or otherwise – are forthcoming. Tonight’s game vs. Columbus was a fine example: The affable Damien Cox as a between-period analyst (No thank you); with him was Scott Morrison, an excellent sports writer from his time at the Sun, but as dry as paint behind a microphone. Add in Paul (Leafs TV) Hendricks lobbing softball questions, and the state-the-obvious/largely irrelevant commentary of Greg Millen and you have the makings of quite an-house crew. I think TSN’s presentation of the League is so superior in comparison, that it’s a shame that will soon come to an end. But ultimately we’ll see how Rogers intends to roll it out next year.

Finally, I agree with Drumanchor on the Leafs back-up radio play-by-play man Jon Abbott. Admittedly, I can’t take too much of the lack of objectivity no matter who is calling the Leafs radio games, but it’s hard to comprehend where this hire came from? MLSE didn’t do their homework as there is an apparent lack of seasoning in Mr. Abbott’s calls. Surely, there were other OHL/CHL play-by-play announcers who were more ready to step into the professional ranks.

sam in oshawa
sam in oshawa
March 4, 2014 9:37 am

problem solved you SN bashers, the man to lead the bold new future in hockey coverage is none other than Gord Stellick STELLICKTRICITY…thank you…

March 4, 2014 9:47 am

I presume Strombo will be doing everything but Saturday night. I like George. He does have some background with sports from his time at the Fan. I’m guessing host of the hate is just a personality thing. I think he’ll do fine.

Having rid myself of cable TV last year I’ve been listening to Leafs games on the radio and haven’t minded Abbott. I prefer Bowen but I haven’t had any “OMG!! I can’t stand the guy!!” reaction like say with Pierre MacGuire, Healey or Stock. Yes they’re not play-by-play guys but I’m having trouble thinking of P-b-P guys I find cringe worthy right at the moment…

March 4, 2014 11:13 am

Cringe worthy pxp?

John sterling
hawk harrelson
joe buck

Immediately spring to mind for me

sam in oshawa
sam in oshawa
March 4, 2014 3:43 pm

P-B-P cringe worthy Joe Bowen hands down…

March 4, 2014 9:09 pm

You weren’t wrong about George Popalis on SN. He’s gone and been gone for about two months.

March 4, 2014 9:23 pm

I find it striking at how big and ever expanding the hockey department is at Sportsnet vs its baseball department.

As a fan, I would hope that down the road they will consider broader baseball coverage and production to equal that of its broad hockey coverage and production.

March 4, 2014 11:43 pm

Yeah. I thought their baseball department made big strides last year… but losing Morris and Hayhurst (and only replacing them with Joe Siddal so far) I’m wondering if they’re scaling it back.

Sam in Scarb
Sam in Scarb
March 5, 2014 3:12 am

@ Daniel SN might have woken up to realize that baseball fans will watch/listen to Blue jays games or they won’t.
After layen out all that dough a light-bulb lit up at SN and they realize they have to amp it up if anyone is going to tune in to Calgary vs Carolina on a Tuesday night in December or Edmonton vs Columbus on a Thursday in January.

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