- Don Cherry was fired on Monday after making offensive comments about immigrants
- Former NHL general manager Brian Burke has emerged as the favorite to replace him on Coach’s Corner
- The shortlist also includes a number of media personalities, including high-profile journalists such as Elliotte Friedman
After 38 years, the Don Cherry era at Hockey Night in Canada came to an unceremonious end on Monday. The 85-year-old Canadian commentator was dismissed by broadcaster Rogers Sportsnet over offensive comments he made signaling out Toronto-area immigrants for not adhering to the tradition of wearing poppy pins to honor military veterans in the lead-up to Remembrance Day.
But with the former Boston Bruins coach in the rear-view mirror, the rumor mill immediately started to turn with talk of who might replace him as co-host of the broadcast’s Coach’s Corner segment.
Odds to Replace Don Cherry on Coach’s Corner
Odds as of Nov. 13 and refer to full-time replacement only.
Much like Cherry, the former Vancouver Canucks and Toronto Maple Leafs general manager is no stranger to bombast.
Already employed by Rogers Sportsnet as an analyst, Burke ascribes to the old-school hockey playbook that Cherry spent his entire career reading from.
Brian Burke with a subtle message for his opinion haters:
— Tim and Sid (@timandsid) December 4, 2018
When Burke took over as GM of the Leafs, he famously promised a team that would feature the “proper levels of pugnacity, testosterone, truculence and belligerence.” Though his squads never quite lived up to that promise, Burke hasn’t shied away from talking up those same qualities on air during his short time on Hockey Night in Canada and other broadcasts.
If Sportsnet is looking to replace Cherry with like for like – and hope that viewers don’t notice the difference – Burke would almost certainly be its preferred candidate. Plus, just like Cherry, who famously called them “a bunch of jerks,” Burke has an absolute dislike for the Carolina Hurricanes and their post-victory Storm Surge celebrations from last season.
Brian Burke is not a fan of the Hurricanes post game celebrations, thinks it is “bush league” and hates it. Wants to see them salute the fans, the Icelandic clap is fine, then get off the ice. #TakeWarning #HockeyTwitter #NHL pic.twitter.com/dE2wY8QLMX
— NHL Prospects Watcher (@Prospects_Watch) February 3, 2019
The long-time hockey insider would be a strange choice to join Ron MacLean as co-host of Coach’s Corner – in large part because he has never coached – but there is little doubt Friedman is as connected as anyone currently on the air.
The latest on Josh Ho-Sang from Elliotte Friedman pic.twitter.com/1tWWDA1vNH
— Rob Taub (@RTaub_) October 6, 2019
Already a panellist on the second-intermission show on Hockey Night in Canada, Friedman usually has the inside edge on breaking news. In addition, he also frequently has his finger on the pulse of most NHL dressing rooms and uses that to give viewers a glimpse at what’s going on behind the scenes.
Elliotte Friedman says Jesse Puljujarvi’s agent, Markus Lehto, told him they are continuing to seek a fresh start for Puljujarvi beyond returning to the Edmonton Oilers. #Oilers pic.twitter.com/7KvcZ52Oo6
— zach laing (@zjlaing) November 2, 2019
While Friedman is not a like-for-like replacement for Cherry, if Sportsnet wants to try something new, the 49-year-old could well get the nod.
The Rest of the Field
While Burke (+125) and Friedman (+175) are the clear favorites to replace Cherry, there are a number of others with an outside shot.
In the former-player category, Colby Armstrong, Craig Simpson and Kelly Hrudey are now also long-time broadcasters.
— Sens Prospects (@SensProspects) February 11, 2018
As a result, they are all comfortable in front of the cameras and have found their voices in the hockey media landscape. But though each is largely unafraid to speak their mind, they don’t necessarily say the kind of outlandish things that made Cherry both beloved by the viewers and a broadcasting bomb-scare at the same time.
Simpson, in particular, seems a long shot here. Not because of his ability, but Hockey Night in Canada would be loath to break up its de facto No. 1 broadcast team of the former Edmonton Oiler winger and play-by-play man Jim Hughson.
"It jams your brain up a little bit."
Colby Armstrong discusses the difficulties of shooting against a goalie with a right-handed glove. pic.twitter.com/n28jpAOvUZ
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) January 7, 2019
But if the show wants to go younger, Armstrong would likely be a decent choice, having played alongside Sidney Crosby in Pittsburgh, as well as knowing what it’s like to play in hockey hotbeds such as Toronto and Montreal, before hanging up his skates in 2014.
Look for Hockey Night in Canada to stick with the tried and tested formula (at least until the end of the season) and replace Cherry with Burke
Pick: Brian Burke (+125)
Let's have fun and keep it civil.