Rogers is continuing to shake up its NHL broadcasting team in the latest round of cuts for the company.
David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail reports sources have told him Rogers has axed multiple on-air personalities on Monday, including Glenn Healy, P.J. Stock, Leah Hextall (who was picked up by ESPN for World Cup of Hockey coverage), Chantal Desjardins, Corey Hirsch, and Billy Jaffe.
The biggest name in these cuts is Healy. He had been with the CBC since the 2009-2010 season and joined Sportsnet’s analyst team in 2014. Healy was a main player on Sportsnet’s top broadcast crew, often in the role of analyzing the game between the benches. Shoalts reports Rogers is scrapping that idea and will be turning to a more traditional two-person booth next season.
The departure of Glenn Healy from the No. 1 boradcast crew signals there will be two-person booths next season. No more man between benches.
— David Shoalts (@dshoalts) June 27, 2016
The between-the-benches segment with Healy won’t be missed by many fans. Healy didn’t add much to the broadcast in the role, as compared to TSN’s Ray Ferraro who’s an expert on-ice analyzer. Healy played the role of antagonist in Rogers broadcasts and was never afraid to speak his mind, often much to the chagrin of fans watching at home.
Stock, meanwhile, had been with the CBC since 2007 and joined Rogers when they acquired hockey rights in 2013. Hirsch was a freelancer and goalie expert for the broadcast. Desjardins was a Sportsnet host based out of Montreal. Jaffe was a hockey analyst who appeared for Sportsnet while simultaneously working as a studio analyst for NESN.
The moves come following previous changes at the Sportsnet broadcast, with George Stroumboulopoulos being replaced by Hockey Night in Canada mainstay Ron MacLean as host of the popular show and analyst Damien Cox being reshuffled to host Prime Time Sports with Bob McCown on Sportsnet The Fan 590. Bizarrely enough, Cox’s Twitter account has been set to private following a possible leaked DM incident.
Shoalts further reports MacLean will host the early game of Hockey Night in Canada, while David Amber will host the late game. Amber is one of the best in the business, so it’s a smart decision by Rogers to feature him more prominently. Sportsnet subsequently announced the move following this report.
Sportsnet announced Elliotte Friedman, Kelly Hrudey, Nick Kypreos, MacLean, and Amber will handle Saturday night duties, while Daren Millard will host Wednesday with Friedman and Doug MacLean.
The moves look to improve the quality of the broadcast while trimming salaries after a disastrous season where no Canadian teams made the NHL playoffs and ratings were down substantially, potentially affecting Rogers’ bottom line. It’s hard to criticize these specific moves, but it’s disappointing Rogers didn’t feel the need to add a woman to their panel. Sophia Jurksztowicz and Cassie Campbell-Pascall are both in-house options who are great at their jobs and could have transitioned into bigger roles. They had an opportunity to be more inclusive and improve their broadcast and opted to stick with mostly the norm.
It’s tough to see so many media personalities lose their job, but Rogers needed to clear some salaries. By axing Healy and (to a lesser extent) Stock, their broadcast should be improved. Adding Amber and MacLean to more prominent roles is also a good thing. Rogers is going for a scaled-back, traditional type of broadcast, which is something they should have done from the get-go. Hitting the reset button may help bring back some viewers.