Remembering Bob Cole

Support TNI Subscribe

Legendary play-by-play announcer was voice of Hockey Night in Canada for 50 years. Photo Credit: NHL/X. 

Today’s sports piece in The Niagara Independent wasn’t going to be about hockey at all. 

But when the news broke Thursday afternoon that Bob Cole had passed, this piece had to be written.

When this author thinks of hockey ‘play-by-play’ two names immediately come to mind: Bob Cole and Rick Jeanneret. 

Growing up in Niagara we had the pleasure to watch Hockey Night in Canada every Saturday night and hear Bob Cole’s “oh baby,” but we could also listen to Buffalo radio and hear Niagara native Rick Jeanneret’s legendary calls like “Top shelf, where momma hides the cookies.”

You didn’t necessarily have to be a fan of hockey to appreciate such iconic calls. 

A St. John’s, Newfoundland native, Cole started calling NHL games for CBC Radio back in 1969. 

He then moved to television in 1973 and was a staple of the aforementioned Hockey Night in Canada broadcasts until 2019. 

Yes, 50 years behind the mic and into our living rooms. 

Cole was also behind the mic for some notable international hockey events. He called Paul Henderson’s now legendary game-winning goal in the 1972 Summit Series between Canada and the Soviet Union as well as the 1998 Olympics, which were the first to feature NHL players.

“They’re going home,” he repeatedly said on Jan. 11, 1976, when Russia’s Red Army hockey team temporarily headed to the changing room during a heated match with the then Stanley Cup Champion Philadelphia Flyers.

Cole’s Hockey Night in Canada swansong came April 6, 2019, the regular-season finale in Montreal between the Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs.

Players, coaches and fans stood in appreciation to honour Cole, many in tears, in the second period as his four children, Christian, Hilary, Megan and Robbie, watched in the gondola at the Bell Centre.

“Thank you so much Montreal and Canada,” he said to viewers, looking down from his broadcast location. “It’s been a pleasure. I’m going to miss this.”

Don Cherry praised Cole during his Coach’s Corner segment that night.

“Foster (Hewitt) was good, Danny (Gallivan) was good, but the best of all, I think, and I’ve seen them all, is Bob Cole,” Cherry said.

The tributes poured in on Thursday following the announcement of his passing, but here are some thoughts from three of the game’s greats during a tribute the CBC ran back in 2019.

“He’s the Gordie Howe of commentating,” said Wayne Gretzky.

“His amazing voice – that perfect, hockey, broadcasting voice,” Connor McDavid said. 

“The passion he has for the game, the talent, being able to set the table he has a real knack for that,” added fellow east-coaster and Nova Scotia native Sidney Crosby. 

Cole was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1996 and received the Order of Canada in 2016. 

“Thank you for decades of love for his work, love of Newfoundland and love of hockey,” Megan Cole told CBC News on Thursday.

Bob Cole was 90 years old.

Your donations help us continue to deliver the news and commentary you want to read. Please consider donating today.

Support TNI


  • Politics

  • Sports

  • Business

  • Copy link
    Powered by Social Snap