Lately I have been thinking about the iconic Hockey Night in Canada “play by play” commentator Bob Cole. And while I respect his work and role in the Hockey broadcasting world, I have to question why he has been so successful and been around for so long?
Bob Cole has had a staggering career, he began broadcasting hockey on radio in 1969 and moved to television in 1973 when HNIC expanded its coverage. He then went on to call all of the Stanley Cup Finals between 1989 and 2008. He was also inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1996 for broadcasting excellence… excellence? I’m not so sure.
There is no doubt he has the “classic” commentators voice, at times soothing and that he has a passionate and emotional enthusiasm for the game. But ever since I can remember, watching a game with Bob Cole commentating is like “watching a game blind” as they say. His catch phrases and trademarks like “oh baby,” “what a dandy,” referring to the game itself as “baby,” speeding up and slowing down his sentences without clear reason can be at times endearing but at others frustrating. The way he never clearly describes the location of the puck on the ice often saying “over there” and describing the players as “they” or “he” is confusing! And certainly not what I would think of as “play by play” descriptive commentary.
While I can see the amusing side of all this and that Bob Cole is surely an alright guy I do think it is remiss of CBC to have kept him on for so long. Hockey is an emotionally charged game for most Canadians and when a particularly adrenaline inducing game comes along there is nothing more frustrating than having a commentator who seems to know less than you about what’s going on. Hence, the expression “watching the game blind” as at times you literally have to try and fill the gaps yourself.
Check out this link:
“This is it BABY!!! This has gone WILD!!!"