Thursday, May 29, 2014

Here's your hat, what's your hurry?


    There's been a Bob Cole gushfest on social media for the past few days, as the venerable Hockey Night in Canada announcer winds down a career that seemingly began around the time Wellington was chasing Napoleon off the battlefield at Waterloo.  Most of the Twitter praise being heaped on Cole is from media members two generations his junior, for whom Cole's voice represents a deep and meaningful connection to their childhood, when hockey leaves its most indelible impression.  They brook no criticism of Cole because to discredit him would be to invalidate their own youth.  He's a legend, he's an icon, and he's the best - not because he's he best, but because he represents their best memories.
     I appreciate the power of that emotional bond.  My generation feels the same way about Danny Gallivan. I also recognize that Cole has a booming baritone voice and that his enthusiasm is genuine 100 percent of the time.  My longstanding problem with Bob Cole is that he too often can't find the words to describe what he's watching.  Think about that: a broadcaster who struggles to articulate.  That's what leads to cringeworthy moments like "everything is happening", "Oh baby for sure" and my personal favourite, "Here's Daoust; he can be dangerous", an epic moment 30-plus years ago when Cole apparently mistook journeyman forward Dan Daoust for Dangerous Dan McGrew - the turn-of-the-century gold prospector who died in a hail of bullets whilst dueling for the affections of a saloon trollop, as per Robert W. Service.  (Cole's call of the gunfight would have been "WHAT IS GOING ON IN THE YUKON?!", while Gallivan would have described a scene of "pistols drawn in rapier-like fashion" and McGrew "careening gutshot over a poker table" before "being attended to rather gingerly by the lady that's know as Lou."  Danny Gallivan was never at a loss for words.  He was a master wordsmith who excelled at theater of the mind in a visual medium, and left theater of the absurd to lesser professionals.)
     I don't begrudge Bob Cole his long and successful career, because I was never one of the promising younger play-by-play announcers held back by his refusal to exit the stage in a timely and dignified fashion.  I don't dispute that he's a legend and an icon.  He's earned that status on the basis of longevity alone.
     But the best?  Sorry.  Not even close.

17 comments:

  1. Jealousy does not suit you well bird man. I'm a huge fan of your work, loved you on 690 but the anti Cole blithering has really just turned me off. I wish you all the best and I mean that. Sorry for going anon.

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  2. I said in the piece that I'm not a play by play announcer, so what am I jealous of, exactly?

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  3. Dear Anonymous: Stand behind your words. Let see your name. Bob Cole is good. Yes. But the absolute best? I think that's a bit too all-encompassing. Ted said ''... I don't dispute that he's a legend and an icon. He's earned that status ...''. Mr. Bird did not limit much of Cole's status at all. He made very valid psycho-social comments. I am from Toronto. I listen to hockey in English, French and in American (that's a joke.). I found Mr. Cole to a bit of a homer. But not enough by a long shot to turn hime off. He is a familiar and welcome hockey broadcaster. But I agree with Mr. Bird. Bob Cole does not walk on water. Ice yes. (It's a metaphor of some kind. Check on the net.). Here's my name. ''Ted Wright''. I am not anonymous. (And no I am not a member of The TBS (Teds Benevolent Society).

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  4. Bob Cole should have hung it up 5 years ago...he's 80 years old and sounds every minute of it calling a hockey game. A gracious goodbye is long overdue, and take that other 80 year old embarrassment Don Cherry with you.

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  5. Dear Anonymous at 8:30pm, Anonymous at 6:57 pm is Bob Cole... When the Habs are leading by 3 goals and you say "Well you all know what thet say about a 3 goal lead, it can be wiped out in a heartbeat" you are nowhere near the best... Anonymous at 6:57 PM: I was a huge fan of your work, especially your poetry, but your post has turned me off to Anonymouses everywhere!

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  6. I can't listen to Mr. Cole' play by play during a Habs game. I thought you are suppose to be bias when calling a game. Mr. Cole does not hide the fact that he doesn't like the Habs, and if he does he doesn't do it well. There, now I feel better and I will turn the TV sound down and listen to the radio

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  7. My Favorite"And the puck went between his legs like a little mouse going into a mouse hole"....
    K. Reid

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  8. The guy is leaving but just before he does you felt compelled to shit on him. What a sweetheart you must be. Your momma would be proud.

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  9. I also respect Cole's body of work, but like Ted he was far from the best. I am an anglophone Quebecer and I have a bar that serves mostly anglophones, when we broadcast the games in our bar we set the audio to the french telecast because we just can't handle Cole's blatant hatred of the Habs. As a matter of fact, we can't handle the whole bunch of the Toronto hockey mafia. Well said Ted. Anyone watching the English broadcast would ask if the Habs were from a different country!

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  10. Watched a game earlier this year that Bob Cole was announcing and he went almost three full minutes without mentioning a player's name. I'm sorry, but maybe because I grew up listening to THE best play-by-play and colourman team in hockey, that I think that Bob Cole's is a mediocre announcer at best.

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  11. He had his day. When I hear him I'm sadly reminded of another announcer who has long passed his best before date. Anybody remember when Don Pardo sounded like Don Pardo?

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  12. Bob Cole = The dial tone of hockey commentators.

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  13. Why can't we all just get along?
    PJ Stock is the best BTW.

    Mike Mckay

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  14. Pj stock is a moron. And Cole's announcing turned an anglophone over to RDS. My favorite broadcaster was Dick Irvin during the 80's and 90's.

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  15. It's hard for Montreal hockey fans to be objective about Bob Cole, because compared to Danny Gallivan and Dick Irvin, he just never measured up. For Toronto hockey fans, he must have seemed like the second coming of the messiah after Foster and Bill Hewitt. He makes me watch the Habs on RDS... thank God we have a choice!

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  16. People are praising Bob Cole and Cassie Campbell is still enjoying national exposure on CBC hockey broadcasts. Quel horreur! How can you sleep at night Mr. Bird?

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  17. Ativan washed down with pails full of homemade potato vodka.

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