Former ESPN broadcaster Keith Olbermann apparently has strong feelings about who should host Hockey Night In Canada. Monday’s report (initially from Dave Feschuk of The Toronto Star) that Rogers plans to dump George Stroumboulopoulos and return Ron MacLean to his former role as lead host of the Saturday night national broadcast saw Olbermann go off on the decision on Twitter Monday and Tuesday, calling it “the dumbest thing I’ve seen in 36 years in TV sports.” And he didn’t stop there:

Not everyone will agree with Olbermann’s take here, as there were numerous Canadian hockey fans upset with the switch from MacLean to Stroumboulopoulos and plenty happy to see reports of a MacLean return. Olbermann certainly has substantial broadcast experience of his own, though, and he provides an interesting perspective on this. It’s worth noting that Olbermann has long been a supporter of Stroumboulopoulos’ NHL work; when he had Stroumboulopoulos on his ESPN show Olbermann last year, he introduced him as “the host of the best studio pre- or post-game show in North America, in English anyway.”

If this change does come to pass, however, there are some reasons for Rogers to make a move, including the sagging ratings and the widespread criticism of their broadcasts. Neither of those factors were necessarily about Stroumboulopoulos, of course, and analysts like Glenn Healy have taken much more sustained flak, but a change here looks like they’re doing something. This could also be part of the larger changes following April’s axing of Gord Cutler as head of NHL production. Moreover, it’s notable that a Globe and Mail report from James Bradshaw and David Shoalts Tuesday said Rogers has received the approval of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman for this change despite his previous clashes with MacLean.

We’ll see what happens here, but it’s certainly noteworthy to see a prominent broadcaster like Olbermann sticking up for Strombopolous amidst numerous tweets from fans who want MacLean back. There may be some support for him internally, too, as this tweet from Shoalts suggests things aren’t rosy inside Rogers’ hockey division:

It’s going to be interesting to see how this plays out, but Olbermann is certainly in Stroumboulopoulos’ corner. That may not be enough to change Rogers’ mind, though.

[Yahoo Canada Sports]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.

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