Oh, baby! Bob Cole to stay
Broadcast personality Bob Cole will return for another season on Hockey Night In Canada. (QMI AGENCY/FILE)
Bob Cole doesn’t like the “Q” word — as in “Quit.”
Never has. Never will.
“One day everyone quits but, right now, I don’t want to quit,” Cole once told the Sun during an interview in his native St. John’s, Nfld. “I don’t even like the word ‘Quit.’
“I don’t want to get sappy but as long as the fans still enjoy listening to me, I want to keep doing it. I love it.”
It is February, 2011 and we are sitting in the stands beneath, fittingly, the Bob Cole Media Centre at Mile One Stadium in St. John’s.
The topic of discussion: When is he going to hang up his mic?
The answer comes quickly in the form of one of his loyal backers, who politely moseys on up to us.
“Excuse me, Mr. Cole, but you aren’t retiring, are you?” asks the wide-eyed fan.
Cole’s response comes faster than a Patrick Kane snap shot.
“No way,” Cole says. “It’s not in my plans.”
A smile came over the man’s face.
We’re betting that’s the same way the majority of Cole Nation is feeling today after Ron MacLean announced on Sunday that Mr. “Oh Baby” will be returning to Hockey Night in Canada next year, the first under the Rogers umbrella. It was official confirmation of a story that had been circulating for a few days, spawning a flood of support on social media.
The seemingly ageless Cole is 80 now and, yes, gets a name wrong now and then. But these playoffs have featured some of his best calls in recent memory, highlighted by the Kings thrilling 5-4 overtime victory over the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 7 of the Western Conference final on Sunday.
Much like his buddy and respected colleague Vin Scully, who still calls Los Angeles Dodgers games at age 86, Cole continues to spit in the face of Father Time. His is the voice of the sport. Has been for a while now.
And, now, for another season.
Which is a good thing.
Like he says, there is no “quit” in Bob Cole.
How long has Cole been doing his thing? Consider that he was part of the radio broadcast of Paul Henderson’s famous goal in 1972 that gave Canada a 6-5 win over the Soviets in Game 8 of the Summit Series ... Wayne Gretzky once told a friend that Cole “is the Vin Scully of the East.” ... Cole’s impressive collection of hockey memorabilia at his St. John’s home ranges from one of the Great One’s first helmets from his Edmonton Oilers days, to a personally-autographed poster of No. 99 and Gordie Howe standing together, complete with signatures from both ... There is even a framed letter written by Gretzky congratulating Cole on his induction into the Hall of Fame in 1996 ... In his den, there are autographed photos of Cole standing with the likes of Jean Beliveau, Foster Hewitt and Mario Lemieux ... His Grammy Award and various nominations hang from the wall. Impressive, to say the least ...Perhaps the most telling items are a pair of small trophies featuring depictions of airplanes. These were awarded to him by Air Canada and Canadian Airlines respectively, in honour of having travelled “One Million Miles” with each carrier. That’s reflective of a broadcast legend who has traveled across the country pretty much each and every weekend during the hockey season since 1973.
The Rangers and Kings, who will begin their Clash For The Cup on Wednesday, split their two meetings during the regular season ... On Oct. 7, Henrik Lundqvist backstopped the Rangers to a 3-1 victory over the Kings at the Staples Center. Brad Richards scored the winner for New York ... On Nov. 17, the Kings beat the Rangers 1-0 at Madison Square Garden. Tyler Toffoli’s goal proved to be enough as the Rangers were blanked by Ben Scrivens ... From someone who loves the sport, here’s a message to the Kings and Hawks: Thank you ... Here is the evaluation offered up by Rangers coach Alain Vigneault on the Kings: “L.A. is in your face. They work hard.” ... While growing up in Connecticut, Jonathan Quick was a huge fan of then-Rangers goalie Mike Richter, who led the Rangers to a Stanley Cup in 1994. Now, 20 years later, the Rangers are in the final for the first time since Richter hoisted the Cup. And who is standing in their way? That same Jonathan Quick.
LAST MINUTE OF PLAY
Cole’s mood likely is far better these days than that of Youppi, the fuzzy mascot of the Montreal Canadiens.
With the Canadiens having lost their Eastern Conference Final to Jimmy Fallon’s beloved Rangers, they were forced to honour their side of a bet to the late night talk show host.
Not only did the Habs official twitter account have to use an avatar of his choosing — in this case, a Henrik Lundqvist image — but Youppi also had to pose for photos in different locations around Montreal while wearing a Fallon No. 1 Rangers jersey.
Our personal favourite — Youppi on a mechanical bull. Yes, it happened.
Tweeted @CanadiensMtl on Sunday: “And finally #HabsFallonBet photo No. 10 — As requested, @jimmyfallon, Youppi! at @ChezSerge, on the bull.”
What’s Fallon’s next wager? Have Kings mascot Bailey go surfing, making him ride some waves in Rangers garb?
Do you still like listening to Cole?