VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – With the sudden dismissal of Don Cherry from Hockey Night in Canada, there is a lot of speculation about who could replace the long-time co-host of Coach’s Corner.
He says he imagines hockey fans are wondering what will happen.
“If I’m involved in any of that, as far as the decision process, I think they will keep it as probably a standard panel and won’t unveil anything new immediately,” he says. “I would be surprised if we see a replacement for someone that’s been there for almost four decades in a week. I wouldn’t even be shocked if they just have a round-table and carry it that way and unveil something in the next season.”
Solkowski thinks regardless of what the new make-up will look like, it will include Ron MacLean.
“He may be part of a panel. I don’t think you will see MacLean and the ‘here’s the new Don Cherry.’ I don’t think we’ll see that this year.”
There are rumors former Vancouver Canucks President and General Manager Brian Burke, who is currently an analyst with Sportsnet, may get the job.
“I think if there’s an obvious choice it would be Brian Burke. They’ve kind of created a new segment for him this year and the thinking, I believe, has always been, ‘When is Don Cherry going to call it a career?’ No one would have imagined it would happen like this – the finish was not what anyone expected,” he says.
But he says he thinks Sportsnet isn’t completely caught off-guard, and saying those in power likely already had some ideas about what could happen when Cherry’s time at the station was over.
“I think those conversations have had place, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all with Brian Burke [as a replacement] because really, he has a higher media profile,” he says. “If I was a betting person, I would say Brian Burke would get that kind of a platform on Hockey Night in Canada. I just don’t know if it happens this season.”
He thinks the question now is less about who may replace Cherry but when to unveil it to the public.
“[Hockey Night in Canada] probably thought, ‘Next year, here’s where we’re going in September’ or when ‘The season starts we’ll do this,’ now you make that decision and go, ‘OK, maybe do we want something January 1st?’ None of this was planned,” he says.
“This was a crazy three days, and we can tell by the reaction we’ve had there are people who agree with what happened, and there’s people who are disappointed it happened.”
He says he doesn’t think filling in the position quickly, right now, would be fair to Ron MacLean or the replacement.
“I wouldn’t expect anything different this Saturday, other than maybe an extended version of what happened before, maybe more highlights, more panels but to say, ‘Here’s the new music, here’s the new intro and here’s the replacement,’ I don’t think that would be a wise move this quick.”
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Solkowski thinks the scandal will be discussed one more time this weekend.
“I would imagine Ron MacLean, knowing how he is and I know he handled it on Sunday with an apology […] it would be wrong of them not to address it and at that point. I think Ron carries a lot of clout and would probably just say, ‘We just can’t come on and pretend it’s not here.'”
MacLean will be on Sportsnet 650’s The Starting Line at 7 a.m. on Friday.
Cherry was let go less than 48 hours after taking to the airwaves and making comments about new immigrants not wearing poppies. He was let go on Remembrance Day and has said he wouldn’t take back his comments, but would have liked to clarify what he meant on the air this weekend.
Rogers, which owns Sportsnet, is also the parent company of this radio station and website.