Don Cherry (Adam d’Oliveira photography)
Don Cherry isn’t going anywhere. The 82-year-old broadcaster’s contract with Sportsnet was set to expire following this season, but the Coach’s Corner host will be back next season on a new multi-year deal.
It’s going to feel strange when the time comes that Hockey Night in Canada no longer features Coach’s Corner, but we don’t have to worry about that quite yet.
Sportsnet president Scott Moore told The Canadian Press Monday that Don Cherry, 82, will be back for at least one more season as the voice of the first intermission segment, which will make for his 35th year on Hockey Night in Canada. Cherry’s new contract — a “multi-year deal,” according to The Canadian Press — comes as his current contract was set to finish up. Cherry’s current deal would have only carried him through until the end of the post-season, which could be coming as soon as Thursday if the Pittsburgh Penguins win Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final.
While Cherry’s old-school mentality can rub some people the wrong way, his is one of the must-see segments of the broadcast — even if that’s sometimes only because of his often outlandish suits. Among other things, Cherry’s wardrobe includes suits bearing goal lights, checkerboard patterns and a few floral pattern suits mixed in, always paired with a high collar and cufflinks.
Rogers renewing Cherry’s deal comes during a post-season that has seen ratings drop significantly. One of the major factors in the ratings drop has been the lack of Canadian teams in the playoffs, and this post-sesaon marked the first time since 1970 that no teams from north of the border have made the playoffs.
When Rogers inked a 12-year, $5.2-billion deal for the NHL broadcast rights in Canada, there were some concerns Cherry wouldn’t be coming over to the new Hockey Night in Canada. Cherry remained a part of the broadcast, however, and told THN’s Ryan Kennedy in January 2015 that he’s enjoyed his role with Sportsnet.
“Nobody really knew what was going to happen – I was concerned,” Cherry told Kennedy. “But it’s even a little better now because I don’t have to see anyone. And I have the best opening and closing (graphics) I’ve ever had.”
Cherry was first hired by CBC in 1981 as a colour commentator but transitioned to hosting the intermission show shortly after his hiring. With Cherry at the helm, Coach’s Corner has become a staple of the broadcast and Cherry has become a fixture of the Canadian hockey media landscape.
Cherry will continue to be joined by co-host Ron MacLean on Coach’s Corner. The two have been partners on the intermission segment for much of the past three decades. MacLean is the midst of a four-year deal with Rogers, and the former Hockey Night host will likely continue his role on Sunday’s Hometown Hockey in addition to his duties alongside Cherry. MacLean was replaced by George Stroumboulopoulos as the broadcast's host shortly after Rogers bought the rights.