Now that Rogers controls all of the editorial content related to Hockey Night in Canada, will Don Cherry’s future turn into a saga of Sour Grapes?
“I haven’t spoken to anyone yet, so I don’t know what’s going on,” Cherry said Tuesday night during a public appearance at Real Sport.
“Until I do, I can’t really answer any questions about this.”
A tweet from @CityNews Tuesday night indicated that “Rogers Broadcast prez has spoken with Don Cherry and they’ve agreed to meet,” an interesting twist to a very fluid story.
On the surface, you would think that no one wants to be known as the person who fired Don Cherry. Nor has it come to that point, as far as we know.
But there certainly were mixed messages sent on Tuesday morning regarding the popular broadcaster when his name came up during a splashy press conference announcing the enormous NHL broadcast deal between the league and Rogers.
Asked about the future of Cherry and Coach’s Corner, president of Rogers Media Keith Pelley was quick to respond that this was only “Day 1 of a 12-year partnership.”
“Over the next months and years, we will evaluate all facets of our production and our programming, certainly in consultation with CBC regarding Hockey Night in Canada,” Pelley said. “So at this particular time, we’re just celebrating today the rights that we have acquired and not really have thought of it much more than just that.”
Alarmed that Pelley’s comments might cause the public to think Cherry’s reign was coming to an end, commissioner Gary Bettman quickly came to the aid of Grapes.
“Don Cherry is a great talent and a good friend, and obviously it’s somebody who we take very seriously as part of the game,” Bettman said.
“Ultimately, it’s something we’ll discuss, but I didn’t want anybody to take Keith’s very well-said comment to somehow represent the sword of Damocles, because I don’t think it was that,” Bettman added, referring to a Greek sword that represents a sense of foreboding.”
Whatever happens, this much is certain: Like it or loathe it, Coach’s Corner gets great ratings. In the TV biz, that’s more often than not the bottom line.