WATCH ABOVE: Don Cherry speaks to reporters about his future prior to a book signing event in Toronto Tuesday night.
TORONTO – The new $5.2-billion deal between Rogers and the National Hockey League means “Hockey Night in Canada” will no longer be under the editorial control of CBC.
That had many Canadians—reporters and the public alike—asking what would happen to the flamboyant head of Coach’s Corner.
But it’s a question Don Cherry himself can’t answer.
“I can’t make a comment because I don’t know what’s going on.”
“I haven’t talked to CBC, I didn’t see the press conference…So I’m asking you guys, do I have a job?” he asked a group of reporters at his booking signing event Tuesday night in Toronto.
Earlier Tuesday, Rogers executives didn’t give a definitive answer on “day one 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,’” said president of Rogers Media Keith Pelley. “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.”
But NHL commissioner Gary Bettman didn’t want people to think that meant the end of Cherry.
“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.”
“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 associated with precarious situations.
The Globe and Mail previously reported Cherry’s salary makes him a target for CBC cuts, citing an $800,000 estimate in a 2012 article. On Tuesday, they predicted the Rogers deal would mean that “come the spring, Don Cherry will be effectively shut down.”
But Pelley later said Cherry could be appearing on several different networks (namely Citytv, and the various Sportsnet channels owned by Rogers) in a way similar to how TSN and Sportsnet came together to broadcast the Vancouver Olympics.
“Don is an iconic Canadian, and the CBC personalities that they have had from Jim Hughson to Bob Cole, are all legends,” Pelley later added. “We haven’t even started the discussion regarding editorial with CBC, but the idea is that the content and all of the profiles of the athletes and all the stories will go across all the networks.”
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