Tributes To Bob Cole, Amazon Confirmed and More

The term “the greatest” is often overused, both in a literal and figurative sense. However, when reflecting on Bob Cole and his memorable calls in the game of hockey, it’s exactly what many say to describe their impressions of his legendary commentary. For those of us from a certain generation, Bob Cole was indeed the greatest. No one could capture the essence of a hockey game quite like Bob. He skillfully set the scene, letting listeners know exactly what was happening with just the right blend of emotion and precision. While I am too young to have heard Danny Galavin or Foster Hewitt live, and mean no disrespect to Jim Hughson, Chris Cuthbert, or others mentioned in the same regard today, Bob was truly in a class of his own.

A simple search will reveal a treasure trove of his most iconic calls, each unmistakably Bob, each showcasing his exceptional style and his innate ability to let the game unfold naturally. To many in my generation, Bob Cole was the very soundtrack of hockey.

“Bob was the best there ever was – with a nod to his great friend Danny Gallivan. Bob had an uncanny ability to anticipate great moments in a game that doesn’t stop to let you think about it. He could feel them coming, and his voice could make you feel them coming. Nothing scripted. Nothing pre-ordained. In play by play, that’s the highest of high art.” Stephen Brunt told me at the time of writing.

Current Hockey Night In Canada host Ron MacLean offered a quote that he felt memorialized Cole Best: “They May Forget What You Said, But They Will Never Forget How You Made Them Feel” from Carl W. Buehner. Ron added, “Bob was an incredible mentor. I spoke to him a few days ago and he said to me, you’re doing a great job. I will never forget my first game in 1986 in Chicago I ran into Bob after the game in Chicago the first thing he said to me was, don’t change a thing. Bob was always generous, he was incredibly dedicated, he had 4 levels of projection. He used to take me to see Cole Porter plays in New York whenever we were in the city. He was a dear friend and I will miss him.

Elliotte Friedman has an article on Sportsnet:

“As the tributes flow in, many remember — with good reason — his awesome ability to maneuver with the crowd. He is the best ever at riding the waves of a crowd’s emotion, flowing with it, rising with it, allowing it to be heard. Bob only cared about whistle-to-whistle. That was his time.”

Stephen Brunt, in his tribute to Cole speaks of Cole’s unique traits:

“He certainly had his quirks. He didn’t like to be touched. He unbuttoned his pants when he called a game. His partners in the broadcast booth knew that when Cole gave them the “Heisman” straight arm, it was time to be quiet, and let him finish. For a time he ran a fish-processing plant during summers back home. He didn’t enjoy it when others treated him to their Bob Cole impressions. He drank Captain Morgan rum (and no other rum) and Coke (and no other cola), and would go to extraordinary lengths to make sure both were available — even in the Soviet Union in 1972 and 1974, and in his Pepsi-centric home province. Those in the business also tell tales about his remarkable physical strength, which came as a surprise to many, and served him well even in his later years.”

Jeff Marek and Elliotte are worth a watch too:

Via Steve Simmons in the Toronto Sun:

“The greatest hockey play-by-play man of our lives has passed away at the age of 90, five Aprils after he called his last game on Hockey Night In Canada.

But he will never really leave those of us who knew him from our televisions sets and from our radios or were fortunate enough to know him personally.

”He’s the greatest voice in the history of the game,” said Chris Cuthbert, the No. 1 voice today on Hockey Night. “I think the voice will be his legacy more than anything. It’s not just that he did his for so long. It’s how he did this.

From Bruce Arthur in The Toronto Star:

“Bob had his quirks, of course. He undid his belt and unbuttoned his pants in the booth; any other arrangement was just too restrictive. He would almost physically restrain broadcast partners in the moments where silence was needed. He would demand the opposing coach meet at 5 o’clock sharp, and demand to know that evening’s lines. One time, Peter Laviolette refused, and Bob was nonplussed, and Laviolette politely told Bob, I’m sorry, but I don’t give my lines to anyone.

Bob went red. “Well,” he said, in that voice, “F—- you, mister!”

Funny thing about Bob McCown and John Shannon not being on PTS anymore. Prime Time Sports would not have been the right format for today’s tribute show to Bob Cole. The podcast format was perfect and listening to John Davidson and Mark Askin was a real treat.

However, the tribute by Tampa Bay Lightning coach John Cooper has to be my favorite.

Gord Miller on Overdrive said it best, “I appreciate you lumping me in with him earlier, let me be clear, we all stand in Bob’s shadow. You don’t say Bob Cole, and.”

One final thought on Bob Cole: if Rogers has Stephen Brunt creating content, why would they let someone else narrate Brunt’s work? This isn’t a slight against Tim Micallef—Stephen Brunt’s video productions are unparalleled. If you have such a distinctive voice, why replace it?

In other news, as we first reported, Amazon has officially taken over the Monday night NHL broadcasting duties from Rogers, for the remaining two seasons of what many consider an unsuccessful national TV deal.

I hear Amazon is assembling its own broadcasting team. It’ll be interesting to see if they lean towards a TNT-style presentation or stick closer to the Rogers format. Who would you choose for this new lineup?

This shift must have Gary Bettman and his team rethinking their strategy. The NHL deal hasn’t been the blockbuster Rogers hoped for, learning the hard way that unlike the NFL, NHL viewership is primarily local. What will this mean for Amazon’s interest if Monday night ratings continue to plummet? I can’t be the only idiot thinking that putting Amazon NHL games up against Monday Night Football isn’t the smartest way to launch this bad boy. Will the NHL fill Monday’s with sweetheart games in attempt to pad the numbers? Time will tell.

Adding to the league’s concerns is the fallout from the failed Arizona venture. Months ago, rumors suggested the Coyotes might relocate to Salt Lake City, with Arizona potentially receiving a future expansion team if a new arena comes to fruition. That speculation has now become reality.

Love him or hate him, Gary Bettman’s tenure as NHL commissioner will be remembered for the frequent lockouts and the Arizona debacle.

Meanwhile the NBA is about to CA$h in on it’s own TV deal according to the WSJ:

“The NBA discussions are fluid; negotiations with a streamer like Amazon could impact the way final deals are structured with TV partners, for example. Wrapping up and announcing all the deals could take several weeks.

In negotiating new long-term pacts, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has said the league wants to significantly increase the scale of its rights deals and broaden the ways fans can watch games around the world. It is a strategy the NFL has also pursued, increasing rights fees from its incumbent media partners and crafting new agreements such as its deal with Amazon for “Thursday Night Football.”

Amazon, YouTube and NBCUniversal have invested in sports to boost their respective streaming services.”

Add to that from the Athletic:

“In what will be a landmark move in sports media history, the NBA and Amazon Prime Video have the framework of a deal that will make the streaming service one of the main homes for the league’s games, executives with direct knowledge of the talks told The Athletic.

It is expected that Prime Video’s package will include significant regular-season and postseason games, perhaps even some conference finals. The anticipation is that the final contract will be for at least a decade and begin the 2025-2026 season.”


“ESPN/ABC, as the website Puck reported Thursday, also has a framework of a deal with the expectations that an agreement will be completed. ESPN/ABC is expected to keep the NBA Finals on its networks for the duration of its deals. Like Amazon, ESPN’s new contract also is expected to be at least a decade in length.”

With more from the Athletic, we learn:

“Marchand: Amazon has shown its strategy with the NFL. It added credibility at play-by-play with the legendary Al Michaels. I think it will try to go with that approach again, so I could see Ian Eagle at the top of its list. He and Mike Breen are the two best basketball play-by-play announcers, and Breen is locked up with ESPN for five more years after this one. Eagle is already the voice of the Final Four and does TNT, so he would seem like a similar prestige choice as Michaels.

As far as analysts go, Eagle and Grant Hill have been good together, but I also could see them having an interest in someone like JJ Redick, another Duke alum. Richard Jefferson is also out there. One name, if you want to think really big — and aggregators, hold your rewrites for now — is LeBron James, if he were to retire by 2025-26. Amazon, notably, has already established a relationship with James by occasionally having his “The Shop” as an alternate broadcast on “Thursday Night Football.” Amazon also got Fred Gaudelli to kick off Thursday nights, so I think it will add a top producer and then probably look to work with one of the other networks for the production, again similar to football.”

I think re, above, we should assume AMAZON goes big on talent for its NHL show in Canada. The question is, if Amazon is spending all this money on all these leagues, will there be any left when the Rogers deal is up in two years?

Meanwhile, in Seattle, the Kraken are cutting ties with the dreadful Root Sports experience. Next season, they plan to broadcast games for free over local Tegna-owned stations and on Amazon Prime across three states. The Kraken’s broadcasts on Root Sports were so poorly produced, they could have been mistaken for an SCTV skit. Additionally, Root’s increased pricing with Comcast led many fans to boycott, drastically reducing viewership.

The Calgary flames re-upped with Rogers for another 10 years on the 10 side today. “Sportsnet has been providing Flames fans with the very best content and coverage of our team for many years and we are thrilled to extend our broadcast relationship for 11 more,our partners at Sportsnet know the game and are as passionate about hockey and the Flames as our fans. We are proud to have a broadcast partner that is so committed to our brand and presenting Flames hockey to our loyal fans.”

In baseball news, The Athletic recently published a list of the top ten MLB executive teams, as voted by their peers. Alex Anthopoulos ranked third, but the Toronto Blue Jays’ front office didn’t make the cut. Apparently, cup holders aren’t impressing other GMs much.



Born and raised in Toronto, Jonah Sigel is currently based in Seattle, WA. An avid sports fan, Jonah took to writing about the sports media world back in 2004 with two young kids at home, a new job and a return to Toronto. The interest grew and grew to include the former website, the twitter handle @yyzsportsmedia, the PressRow podcast and now the all new

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