Kukla's Korner

Kukla's Korner Hockey

Simple Question- Do You Want Cherry And Possible MacLean Removed From HNIC?

from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,

Soon, as negotiations to renew Hockey Night In Canada’s contract with the National Hockey League commence, a determination on the future of Cherry and the ever-popular Coach’s Corner segment will have to be made.

It may, in fact, be forced.

When Burke went behind Cherry’s back and made it clear to his NHL brethren that he no longer wanted Cherry on the large Hockey Night stage he found he had surprising support for the concept. He wasn’t alone in wanting the outspoken Cherry silenced. There is a sense within the NHL that Hockey Night, and in particular host Ron MacLean and Cherry, are too combative, too critical, too agenda driven for the NHL’s liking.

If this is the league’s signature program, they, like some of their friends at CBC, would prefer it to be more vanilla. Less spice.

So here’s the CBC dilemma: Cherry remains its ratings grabber. Large as the game may be, he still commands attention far beyond the game itself and long after Saturday night is over. It’s six days after game night and his anti-Burke rant is still a trending topic of conversation.

read on

My Take

I’ve always felt in instances like this the public can make the decision not to watch if they so desire, but ratings seem to prove otherwise, they are watching and probably still complaining.

Who’s to say replacements would be better.

With Don Cherry, who knows, he just may decide to hang it up on his own as his 80th birthday is approaching.

Ron MacLean, I see no reason to remove him.  Right now, he is HNIC and even thinking of replacing him should not even be considered.

He is a professional, can discuss numerous topics and unlike many TV hosts, he does his homework and keeps his finger on the pulse of all things NHL.

Filed in: NHL Media, Hockey Broadcasting, CBC HNIC, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: don+cherry, ron+maclean


Kate from PA now in SC-made in Detroit's avatar

I will always be a fan of Coach’s Corner. No apologies. If you do not like what Don Cherry says then do not watch the segment.

As far as Ron McLean goes, he is the consummate professional, and, is willing to ask the tough questions no mater who he is interviewing.

Lets Go Red Wings!!!!!

Posted by Kate from PA now in SC-made in Detroit on 03/08/12 at 11:50 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

I generally don’t watch.  I don’t get CBC, but I have a choice to watch on Center Ice most weekends.  Not a penny of my money goes to the CBC and I’m really not their target audience, so it’s really not my say.

If it were my say, I’d say that I think it’s time he goes.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 03/08/12 at 11:53 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

My problem with Ron MacLean is that he’s much more “dangerous” than Cherry when he starts ranting about a topic as he will milk it all night long, from 6:30 till the time he bows out after “Scoreboard Saturday” in the 2nd intermission of the second game, and when he’s angry, boy, he’ll do his best to hijack Coach’s Corner and the Hotstove just to make his point, which usually involves more obstruction being allowed back into the game, quick fixes like bringing the red line back in, and the kind of “old time hockey” “codes” that even Cherry thinks are antiquated.

It’s impossible for a network to retain its credibility by admitting it’s restraining its hosts’ abilities to speak their minds, but between cherry aging and the fact that TSN/CTV could throw more money at the NHL than a network which gets slagged in the media for ever throwing public funds at any programming can while attempting to hold onto its nest egg. I think that we might see the CBC having to find something else to fund everything else on its network sooner than later in no small part due to Cherry and MacLean’s comments’ negativity, as the Globe and Mail’s Bruce Dowbiggin suggested earlier this week.

I didn’t post it because it’s not in my area of expertise, but I think that Dowbiggin’s article might have been better than Simmons’ article.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 03/08/12 at 11:57 PM ET


Their time is done, and the sooner they are gone, the better.

And this “if you don’t want to watch them, go somewhere else” retort is very simplistic. Hockey Night in Canada is the only public access hockey broadcast in Canada (i.e. non-cable). It is the only one that streams online for free. For many people, it is their only place to watch games. This is particularly the case if you don’t have a ton of money, and also when you follow an out of market team. Personally, I will not spend 100 dollars a month for the NHL package (on top of all the cable that I would have to pay for, but not watch) just to watch the Canucks play.

I just mute it when it comes on, or go do something else. It is an old concept, and add’s very little to the quality of the broadcast. Hotstove is far better, and Ron and Don’s old-time hockey is no longer what the NHL is, or should be.

Posted by Mike from Toronto on 03/09/12 at 12:20 AM ET

Down River Dan's avatar

Did not even finish reading the article before commenting. I grew up watching HNIC in the Detroit area on channel 9 out of Windsor since about 1973. It was for years must see TV every Saturday.

However in the past 5-6 years and with the loss of some of the better play by play guys to other networks in Canada, and with the addition of PJ Stock, Elliot Friedman,and Mike Milbury to the brodcast, I find myself watching less and less. I still watch Coaches Corner and try and watch the Hot Stove segment, but milbury makes it tough.

When Bob Cole was replaced as the primary Play by Play guy with Jim Hughson, I started tuning away and waiting for the end of the period to tune back. Bob Cole had lost a step or two and father time catches up to us all, but are you telling me that Jim Hughson is the best guy in all of Canada for the HNIC brodcast???????

I remember when Dave Hodge got fired for throwing his pencil in the air over a decision to cut away from a game ( I forget the details).

For me anyway, the only reason to watch HNIC now is Ron & Don. If the CBC were to get rid of Ron and Don for being “too confrontational” , I most likely will stop watching altogether .

If I want to see milquetoast announcers toss softball questions at players , coaches , and GM’s , I will watch Gary Green and the rest of the boys on the NHL Network. Everybody on the air on that network is absolutely awful!!

Ron & Don, if Burke and the pinheads at NHL HQ are trying to force you out, I hope you go out Guns Blazing!! and give both Barrels to both Burke & Bettman.

Posted by Down River Dan on 03/09/12 at 12:53 AM ET


Fire the *#$%@&. And now. I’m sick of paying their salaries.

Posted by Mark on 03/09/12 at 01:19 AM ET

tuxedoTshirt's avatar

As far as Ron McLean goes, he is the consummate professional

This.  Anyone who hates Bettman should love Ron Maclean - if you look up the last interview that Bettman agreed to, I think you’ll agree.
Coaches Corner used to be awesome, but it is degenerating into senility, and unfortunately, Maclean is now on a sinking ship.
I don’t know how anyone can knock Hughson though, he and Simpson are the voice of hockey (EA sports had it right).  Bob Cole hasn’t just lost a step, he sounds like a drunken derelict - which isn’t to say I didn’t love him twenty years ago.
Milbury should choke on a chili dog (harsh, but I mean it).
Hopefully Cherry just steps down so that he doesn’t ruin Maclean’s career and CBC’s contract (sounds like him right?).

Posted by tuxedoTshirt from the Home of the 1937 World Champions on 03/09/12 at 01:58 AM ET


I don’t want to see Cherry go because the NHL doesn’t like him. I would like to see him go because he is damaging to the game. His antiquated mentality, angry nationalism and political platform don’t belong on any NHL network.

Posted by timbits on 03/09/12 at 02:46 AM ET


Now that the trading deadline has come and gone, every hockey writer or blogger is churning out these boring columns, trying to make some big controversy out of nothing because they don’t have anything else to write about. Yawn.

Posted by Al on 03/09/12 at 02:49 AM ET

tuxedoTshirt's avatar

he is damaging to the game

It gives me no pleasure to admit that this is true.  It is very sad.

Posted by tuxedoTshirt from the Home of the 1937 World Champions on 03/09/12 at 03:01 AM ET


He’s a vanishing breed.  Hockey is becoming a PC caricature of itself.  Everything today is a phony corporate sponsored joke.  The sports the current leagues are based on don’t exist anymore.  Look back at the NFL/AFL, NHL, MLB etc from the ‘60s and early ‘70s totally different from the evryone gets a chance to win, pseudo entertainment frauds these leagues have all become.  What’s worse a working stiff can’t even afford to take his kid to a game.  .The games are all attended by drunken 18-35 year old louts that have no respect for the people around them anyway.  People are being attacked at sporting events now Big Money ruined sports

Posted by 13 user names on 03/09/12 at 04:24 AM ET


Cherry is the last working class hero.

Posted by 13 user names on 03/09/12 at 04:26 AM ET

HockeyFanOhio's avatar

Simple Question- Do You Want Cherry And Possible MacLean Removed From HNIC?

Simple answer - No.  Do I agree with everything he says?  No.  Do I think he can be bigoted and nationalistic?  Yes.  His anti-American and anti-European rants can be irritating.  But fire them because Burke doesn’t like them?  I don’t think so.

Posted by HockeyFanOhio from Central Ohio on 03/09/12 at 05:13 AM ET


  Simple Question- Do You Want Cherry And Possible MacLean Removed From HNIC?

Simple answer - No.  Do I agree with everything he says?  No.  Do I think he can be bigoted and nationalistic?  Yes.  His anti-American and anti-European rants can be irritating.  But fire them because Burke doesn’t like them?  I don’t think so.

Posted by HockeyFanOhio from Central Ohio on 03/09/12 at 02:13 AM ET

Agreed. That’s bush-league by Burke. He should worry more about his hockey team.

While we all may not agree or disagree with Cherry/MacLean/Coach’s Corner/Hot Stove, it’s always an engaging Saturday night with these guys, and their discussions are usually in the press the following week.

Posted by Jesters Dead on 03/09/12 at 05:27 AM ET

DrewBehr's avatar

MacLean is the only guy I’ve seen go on TV with Gary Bettman and ask tough questions, and further more, openly share his disagreements with the commissioner. That alone should keep him on HNIC until he dies.

Cherry is like the crazy, drunken uncle of HNIC and no matter how much I find myself at times hating him (not even counting the suits) it never conquers how much I love him.

Especially with the rather “vanilla” guys that seem to overpopulate NBC/NBC Sports/NHL Network… I say keep em both. They’re some of the only interesting hockey commentating we have left.

Posted by DrewBehr from The Mitten on 03/09/12 at 06:03 AM ET

Mr. Fnytelhatt's avatar

Personally I think Cherry is ill-suited for HNIC.

(I’m afraid you read that correctly).



Posted by Mr. Fnytelhatt on 03/09/12 at 08:58 AM ET

Primis's avatar

I agree that MacLean is even more dangerous than Cherry.  MacLean is SUPPOSEDEto be a broadcast professional… the straight man to Cherry’s Crazy Man.

MacLean hasn’t been that in years.  There’s almost no Journalist left in MacLean anymore.  One “good” (and that’s debatable) interview does not make up for years of spouting his opinion when it’s quite frankly not his place to.  To be blunt, MacLean wouldn’t get away with his sh*t on an American network.  Not even on ESPN where the employees regularly overstep their sensible boundaries..

I’m also sick of his “I’m a referee” schtick.  No, you’re really not.  Not any more than Cherry is a “coach” 3 decades removed now.

As someone who has gone to school for and then worked in broadcast journalism, I think MacLean offends my sensibilities far more than Cherry even.

Posted by Primis on 03/09/12 at 10:09 AM ET


I’ll have to agree with Down River Dan when he said he appreciates the tough questions most CBC announcers ask their “guests” when interviewed.  If I wanted useless cookie-cutter fluff then I’d watch the NHL Network or NBC Sports Channel. CBC has the right formula ... the right balance between trained broadcasters and former players turned broadcasters. This balance brings out the deeper hockey discussions on air and makes the viewer feel closer to the game, while keeping the broadcast smooth and professional.

If either Ron or Don (or both) were to be fired, they would lose both viewers and that feeling of intimacy their knowledge brings. Most people under the age of 40 can’t appreciate Don Cherry and his wealth of knowledge & wisdom because they aren’t old enough to have seen old school hockey before the center red line was removed or before the invention of the instigator penalty, or before composite hockey sticks, or before any player wore a helmet.

To say Don Cherry is now an acquired taste would probably be most accurate because he’s old school and stubbornly refuses to modernize himself or his thinking of how the game of hockey should be played. For younger viewers, this is very hard to understand, so they take the easy way out and shrug him off as an old fart past his prime soaring head first into senility.

Not only would firing either broadcaster be a mistake, I think Burke owes Cherry an apology for threatening him and his job. It may not have been the smartest thing for Don to bring it up on air but, if you were in Cherry’s position (canadian hockey pope) then you’d probably do the same thing and expose Burke for trying to be a loud mouth bully.

Posted by Hockeytown Wax from W.B. on 03/09/12 at 10:45 AM ET

christpuncher's avatar

Hockey Night is a direct link to hockey’s long and wonderfully storied history. I don’t alway agree with what Ron and Don say, but no other broadcast is as respectful or well informed as Saturday Night is to the history of “our” game.

Posted by christpuncher from Detroit, MI on 03/09/12 at 11:56 AM ET


Have always watched HNIC whenever I could.  Still watch whenever available on NHL network. Have followed Cherry for years. Like Dave Hodge, Ron MacLean is ok - he can be more annoying than Cherry sometimes.  Cherry is probably getting past his due date, but I think he should go out on his terms.  Unless he is drooling or incoherent, he should stay.  Everything he says isnt relevant or sometimes not even interesting.  But he tries to especially portray the Canadian Way, respect for the Armed Forces, the Mounties & the fire fighters, the local community people, the small town coaches and players.  This might not mean much to many of us south of the border, but it still resonates with many in Canada.  It is only a few minutes a week and it carries a lot of weight across the country and sometimes to the States & the rest of the NHL.  Go Wings.

Posted by howie young from up north on 03/09/12 at 02:03 PM ET

shazam88's avatar

I haven’t been much of a fan of Cherry in recent years, though he occasionally has his somewhat humorous moments.  That said, I agree completely with a number of posters above, in that it’d be wrong to be forced out because he’s inconvenient to Brian Burke and the NHL brass.

While HNIC can be modernized in many ways, it’d be very sad if it ever became an NHL Network clone.

Posted by shazam88 from SoCal on 03/09/12 at 03:31 PM ET

tuxedoTshirt's avatar

To be blunt, MacLean wouldn’t get away with his sh*t on an American network

I think that explains what makes the American networks so bland, neutered, and conformist (this might go beyond hockey).

Posted by tuxedoTshirt from the Home of the 1937 World Champions on 03/09/12 at 05:57 PM ET

Add a Comment

Please limit embedded image or media size to 575 pixels wide.

Add your own avatar by joining Kukla's Korner, or logging in and uploading one in your member control panel.

Captchas bug you? Join KK or log in and you won't have to bother.


Notify me of follow-up comments?


Most Recent Blog Posts

About Kukla's Korner Hockey

Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

Email Paul anytime at pk@kuklaskorner.com