Voice of Hockey in Canada for a Half-Century Was 90

Bob Cole, The Voice of Hockey in Canada for a Half-Century, Dies at 908

Bob Cole

Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images

TORONTO (AP) — Bob Cole, the voice of hockey in Canada for a half century who served as the soundtrack for some of the national sport’s biggest moments, has died. He was 90.

Friend and fellow broadcaster John Shannon said Cole died Wednesday night in his hometown of St. John’s, the capital of the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the network for which Cole worked, announced his death Thursday, adding daughter Megan said her father had been healthy “up until the very end.”

“He’s such a legend, such a great man,” said Colorado center Nathan MacKinnon, a Nova Scotia native. “I’ve met him a few times over the years. At charity golf tournaments in Halifax, he’d come out and support Atlantic Canadians. Amazing person, super funny. Just a great guy and obviously some of the best calls of all time.”

Known for his “Oh baby!” catchphrase, Cole called some iconic games as part of CBC’s “Hockey Night in Canada.” His distinctive play-by-play style added even more flavor to the 1972 Summit Series between Canada and the Soviet Union, the 2002 Olympic final in Salt Lake City and numerous Stanley Cup Finals.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said Cole “made every game he called sound bigger” and transcended generations by sharing his obvious passion for our game and his stunning talent for conveying hockey’s excitement and majesty with both eloquence and enthusiasm.”

Cole called his first game, on radio, between Boston and Montreal in April 1969 and moved to TV in 1973. He called his last game on April 6, 2019 — the regular-season finale between the Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs — and in between was honored by the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1996, winning the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award for outstanding contributions as a hockey broadcaster.

“The hockey world, we lost a legend,” Winnipeg Jets coach Rick Bowness said. “All the coaches around the league and all the hockey people, they trusted him. He was a true pro. You could tell him anything and he called a great game.”

Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe opened his remarks between playoff games Thursday by passing along condolences to Cole’s family.

“Someone who touched the game in so many ways, as an icon in our sport and the voice of hockey, not just in Toronto, but in our country,” Keefe said. “A sad day for sure.”

AP Sports Writer Pat Graham in Denver contributed.

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