John Shannon talks about Ron MacLean, Don Cherry and a career in Canadian sports television


John Shannon was talking about sports television. It made sense – he made a career out of television – and it was also timely, as he publishes a book of insights gathered over a career spent with ‘Hockey Night In Canada’ and many other stops on the dial.

On play-by-play announcer Bob Cole: “His sense of anticipation was the greatest sense of anticipation of any broadcaster I’ve ever worked with.”

On modern analysts who get lost in hockey jargon: “I’ve been in this game for 46 years: what is F1 in depth? It’s not who we’re talking to. It’s a tough chore to find people who know who they’re communicating with.

Shannon, 66, is a former “Hockey Night” executive producer who is also widely known for his stint at Sportsnet and, most recently, as co-host of the Bob McCown Daily Podcast. His book, “Evolve Or Die: Hard-Won Lessons from a Hockey Life” (Simon & Schuster Canada, $34.99), is due out this month.

“I’m as busy as I want to be,” he said. “I’m always up for another project. Someone calls and gives me a project, I take it any second. Absolutely.”

(This interview has been edited for length and clarity.)

What’s the most stressful part of working in a TV truck during a game?

Oh, it’s not during the game. The stressful part is between 3 and 7 p.m., because as a player you are so overwhelmed with your preparation that you want the game to start right away. You played, through your mind, everything that could happen in the game. How do you read and react to events on the ice? Do you have the right video to support it?

These TV trucks tend to be small and windowless: how do they smell at the end of a long day?

I had never even considered that, honestly.


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