Don Cherry gets an additional segment on HNIC

Canadians will get a  double dose of Don Cherry on Hockey Night in Canada this season. (Dave O/Wikimedia Commons)

Canadians will get a double dose of Don Cherry on Hockey Night in Canada this season. (Dave O/Wikimedia Commons)

By: Chris Messina

@cmessina85

The Canadian television audience will be in for a real treat this Saturday as Hockey Night in Canada will be celebrating their 60th anniversary of being on-air. The start of the 2013 NHL season will feature a tripleheader on Hockey Night in Canada and of course that means the return of Don Cherry’s Coach’s Corner to the tube for yet another season. And love him or hate him, he’ll be getting double the air time this coming season.

The the network has announced that not only will the former Bruins and Rockies bench boss get his regular slot between the first and second period of the 7pm EST game between Toronto and Montreal, but he will also get an addition slot on the late game between Anaheim and Vancouver as well.

There has been ample speculation over the last couple of seasons as to how much longer the Canadian icon will be on the air. CBC only holds the NHL’s TV rights on Saturday night until the end of the 2014 season. It’s expected that Sportsnet and/or TSN will make a push to outbid the government owned network after that. That would probably spell the end of the line for Coach’s Corner after a run that has lasted for over three decades.

Then again not too many people saw this move coming, maybe his numbers are still good enough that one of the other networks would hire him if CBC losses Saturday nights at the end of next year. Television is a difficult business to be in, but an easy one to figure out. If the numbers are good they keep the program on the air, if not then networks try something else. Obviously the CBC is happy enough with the numbers that they think giving him additional seven-and-half-minutes will bump their ratings.

A little over a year ago it looked as though Don Cherry’s numbers had dipped. However, he was still drawing in more viewers than other intermission segments on the show. What the CBC has since been trying to figure out is whether or not having him on prevents a farther plummet in the numbers than if they had something else on the air. If this is true then his popular has been in decline in recent years but he’s still better than the alternative.

The show in general likes to stick with its traditions and that includes the on-air personalities. Bob Cole isn’t what he once was, but for many he is the voice of hockey in Canada and the CBC has kept him on board though Jim Hughson is clearly their best announcer.

Grapes still has his fans. Take the Top Prospects game earlier this week when a fan dressed up in one of his flashy suites and signature white hair made his way behind the bench to get on TV when Don Cherry was being interviewed prior to the puck drop. The question is, are there still enough of those die hards left? Should CBC be trying to find the next big thing?

In the era of center ice and social media maybe there is no next big intermission star. It’s seems like viewers find ways to occupy themselves when the play isn’t on. If that is the case then that is a completely different problem all together.

There is one thing we do know. There is only one Don Cherry and we will be seeing him twice as much this coming season.

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