At 85, the legendary Hockey Night in Canada play by play man just lets his work do the talking.
If there’s one voice most Canadians today think of when Hockey Night in Canada is mentioned, it’s a good bet the name of Bob Cole comes to mind.
And at 85, Cole is still calling hockey games, albeit that looks ready to change.
Before the 2018-19 season — Cole’s 50th in the play-by-play broadcaster’s chair — Rogers Sportsnet announced Cole would call 10 games this season and then unplug his microphone for the final time.
He was the lead play-by-play caller for Hockey Night from 1980 until 2008, when Jim Hughson was promoted to the main job. For the past decade, Cole, who still calls St. John’s, Nfld., home, has mostly been heard on broadcasts of Montreal Canadiens games.
Saturday’s Canucks-Penguins game at Rogers Arena is likely to be Cole’s final broadcast in Vancouver.
Saturday morning, asked about the occasion, Cole sought to play down the evening, preferring instead to focus on preparing for the game.
The host for the Saturday night telecast, Scott Oake, said that was very much in character for the broadcasting legend.
“The thing about Bob is he has always wanted the focus to be on the game. The game is everything to him. He doesn’t want the focus to be on him or on anyone else on the broadcast,” Oake said.
Oake, who has been working on Hockey Night broadcasts since the 1970s, goes even further back with Cole — all the way back to Newfoundland, where he lived as a teenager. He first started working at the CBC as a part-timer, right out of high school.
He eventually got to work on the supper-hour newscast on the CBC’s St. John’s TV station.
“My first job was as a sports announcer at CBNT,” he said. “Bob was the news anchor.”
Cole would then jet off on the weekends to call games for CBC TV and radio.
READ THE REST OF THIS PROVINCE SPORTS STORY HERE.
SEE BOB COLE FEATURED WITH SIDNEY CROSBY & SCOTT OAKE ON CBC’s ‘AFTER HOURS’ HERE.