Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Cole position

Good article by William Houston in the Globe today about how Bob Cole clearly needs to either retire or find a way to keep the world from spinning while he tries to call hockey games.

Perhaps Cole was unprepared or fatigued, but based on his work in the first two games, the issue isn't so much his calling the Western series, but whether he should be working as a play-by-play announcer at all.

Cole won't give his age, but sources say 73 is the correct number. And it shows. In this series, he's not providing play by play as much as he is telling us which team has possession of the puck.
Yipes. Well, yeah. It's true. I guess I do kind of feel sorry for the guy — but that's likely attributable to a deeply engrained prediliction to feeling badly for old people, or possibly the fact that I'm not watching him call a game right now. But as soon as I hear his voice, all that hatred will come bubbling back up.

Seems like we've had to deal with a lot of meandering old farts who are screaming to be put out to pasture this year. Bob Cole, Don Cherry, Rod Philips... it is time now more than ever before to inject some younger blood into the hockey commentary system? Houston writes about how the CBC passed up on doing just that to retain Cole and his half-aware fumblings. Read the rest of the article here.

36 comments:

Colby Cosh said...

Cole was always overrated. As far as I can tell, about 95% of his reputation is based on the bizarre Canadian tendency to regard Newfies conscendingly as some kind of huggable mascot species.

The Cuthbert firing should have been prevented, if necessary, by a violent overthrow of the government; failing that, the dignified thing to do with this situation was to leave Hughson with the Western teams and Cole with the Eastern teams and stick by it no matter who advanced. Assigning Cole to an Oilers conference final was the equivalent of stealing his pants downtown on a cold afternoon: it's legally actionable torture of the aged.

Colby Cosh said...

And, yes, Cherry has jumped the shark. Breaks my heart to say it, but I can't stand much more of the first-intermission Dead Soldiers & Cops Report. He's about two nights away from actually lugging the skull of a martyred Mountie onto the set with him.

Andy Grabia said...

See and sign my petition here.

Pleasure Motors said...

Absolutely the best part of Cherry's career with the CBC occured last night, when he claimed that hockey players of the 50s, 60s and 70s called Native American players "Chief" as a SIGN OF RESPECT. That man would have to deny the Holocaust to get fired at this point.

lowetide said...

This is natural. Jack Buck called a terrible WS before hanging them up, and they took Vin Scully off the network ages ago even though he still has the best voice this side of Lorne Greene.

Cole was never a favorite of mine (Gallivan) but he held the #1 job in Canadian sports broadcasting for a long time.

Time to take him to the woodshed.

RiversQ said...

Hey LT, when you "take him to the woodshed" do you mean:

A)Kill him by smashing his skull with a stone like my grandmother once did with a rabbit on the farm when I was a kid?

Or

B)Beat him within a inch of his life and then expect him to leave forever?

I'm not sure what that "woodshed" phrase means. I'm also not sure which of those scenarios is appropriate. Admittedly, there is a plan C where you just can the SOB but that's sissy talk.

Colby Cosh said...

I'm thinking maybe some kind of Of Mice and Men scenario, with Kelly Hrudey in the George role. They could turn it into a pre-game montage with Hrudey tying on his pink headband and loading a revolver as a single tear trickles down his face.

millax said...

Cilence
Bob
Cole

Make the poster.

Beck said...

I agree 100% about Cole and Cherry... but Rod Philips? Come on, he can still call an exciting game. He can even make a mundane game sound exciting.

bigleaguer said...

Cole hasn't been the same since Ricky Vaive left the Leafs, and that's a long time ago. Hughson's been my favorite going back to when he was TSN's No. 1 guy (also many a moon ago). He's always been technically first-rate but now he has added an excellent sense of humor to boot.
A friend has an LP of the audio from the 72 Canada-Soviet series with Bob Cole doing the PBP and it would be worth every cent to have it today. Cole was really on top of things then, but that was 34 years ago...
As for Cherry, you forgot to mention his two-to-three times per season of bringing up the youngsters with paralysis. He knows his Jerry kids shtick.

Steve said...

I'm with Beck. Saying anything bad about Rod Phillips is sacrilegious.

Par said...

Was it not Foster Hewitt that called the Summit Series?

Achtungbaby said...

I didn't quite know what to think about the Chief remark. Maybe it's time to either bring back the censor or put Don out to pasture.

Randy said...

Ahhh, Bob Cole, this generation of westerners' Howie Meeker. Let's face it, he's Mr. Saturday Night, and the same reason you all love Rod Phillips (who CANNOT follow the puck anymore) is the same familiar hockum that Onatrionites feel for Bobo and Harry.
"They'll want to score on this power play." The Olympics were a low point. On a similar note, after moving to the lower half of the province I rediscovered that Peter Maher is a huge shill.

Anonymous said...

I don't think you guys even like hockey. Bob Cole is just amazing any way you slice it, best in the biz.

When he gets on a role it's almost poetry, how about Goggles(!) last goal,

"Faceoff...bang, bang, bang Scores!!!"

Who else calls a game like that?

Duke

Chris! said...

I can only assume you're kidding, Duke.

Coluch said...

Fuck this post. FUCK IT IN THE ASS.

Bob Cole calls the game the way it should be called - with emotion!!! I can't stand these newer guys with all their "oh look at me and my clever analogies!" , and "look how much I know about hockey" play-by-play. It's bullshit, it's boring, and it take the fun out of the game when it's all very matter of fact.

BOB COLE SHOULD BE CLONED TO DO HNIC FOREVER!!!

I can't believe there is ONE person that doesn't feel his excitement, nevermind all of the people that have already replied here... you obviously have black hearts. Obviously.

(side note - the Chief comment by Cherry is irrelevant to the argument that he shouldn't be on the air. I still know people, native friends actually, that call each other chief, etc., and it IS respect, nothing less, nothing more. Put away the daggers people, or we'll become as over-censored as the damn USA. Gawwd.)

Dennis said...

Great intial point by CC on the coddling of Cole and possibly because he's from NL. Cole still has the best voice and the best inflection of anyone in the biz...for instance I love Cuthbert because of his passion and knowledge of the game but his voice does get a bit girly when he gets excited. Guys like Cuthbert and especially Hughson are better because they're watching the line matching and they notice in-game trends. Right now all Bob knows is that he's really attracted to Corey Perry for some strange reason.

theDrizzler said...

The "my (insert visible minority here) friends do it so it can't be that bad" argument is, to say the least, weak.

Censorship has nothing to do with respect. Try calling a black man a ... and see how far you get. Even better, why don't you head down to Hobbema, walk up to any random redsident, and ask him "how do you get to the highway from here, Chief?" I'll notify your family that you'll be taking the rest of your meals through a straw.

Neale and Cole, as much as you long for their sweet, confused voices, need to be brought back in like any other grandpa wandering the street in his bathrobe trying to remember where they live.

Western raised hockey fans want informed and passionate announcers calling their games and offering their commentary. Hughson and Rhudey fill that bill. And while some folks may believe that 'everybody' loves Cole and Neale, the truth is that Hughson, along with his deep television experience, has also been calling games by the millions across this nation for EA sports for nearly a decade and reaches a much broader audience than your old men could ever hope.

lowetide said...

RQ:
Take him to the woodshed and beat him like the guy in Dirty Harry did to that character actor.

Then tie him to a tree, pour honey on him and leave a looped recording that plays Cole's "Joe....................................SAKIC" over and over.

Nothing cruel or anything.

Paul Monson said...

I like Cole's voice, its the fact that he can't read a number on the back of a player's jersey that I don't like. The article from the globe and mail was kind when listing the number of erroneous calls the guy made. If it hadn't been going on for so long (2002 calling team Canada the Leafs) I could put up with it until he bows out of another year after these playoffs.

I think the best 1-2 punch would be Hughson coupled with Ferraro. That Ferraro is a smart fella, and he makes insightful points on a general scale. That's not to be confused with Millen and his generalizations based on the previous play - Oilers dump the puck in once and go off for a change and Millen tells us how the Oilers are now going to a full on trap. Ferraro is the best colour man in the biz (not to be confused with coloured man...I hear his friends call him .....).

All that said, they are all better than any American duo I've seen lately. They all like to hold a lengthy conversation about what they saw a player eating for lunch, all while there is ridiculous action going on at ice level. They forget they are doing hockey rather than their real passion, college baseball or high school football.

BTW, here is that article again that was posted in the blog. The one that was posted needs a globe and mail subscription. This one you can view in full without said subscription.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20060523.truth24/TPStory/Sports/columnists

LittleFury said...

Not only can Philips not follow the puck, 95 per cent of the time he can't even tell who has it. "Now Moreau...make that Murray..."

I can't decide if his calling Flame Chuck Kobasew "Koubasa" during a game this year was a career high or the landing after his shark-jump.

As for Cole, yeah, he's done. Hughson and Hrudey would make a great Saturday night team.

Until then, God protect us from Pierre Maguire, Glenn Healey and all the other disciples of the Chris Berman "I'm the show!!" school of broadcasting.

Randy said...

Poetry? Vin Scully ("as cool as the other side of the pillow") is still poetry. Bob Cole is just kind of humming the chorus and giving basic updates. While I dislike Hughson and Millen, anything is better than Pierre Mcguire, who is trying to take up real estate as a sort of John Madden of the NHL.

jonny said...

Cuthbert should be brought back and the hack that fired him should be splayed in the lobby of the CBC toronto bldg. Fire Cuthbert,keep Wittman and Cole. Is there any wonder everyone hates the CBC.

oh yeah: Scully = God

Colby Cosh said...

Yeah, and hire Daryl Reaugh while you're at it, CBC.

Who the hell doesn't call Chuck Kobasew "Kubasaw"?

Anonymous said...

Rod Phillips is a legend, bow before him!

gdc said...

Cole's emotion is the best in the biz, but he and Neale are almost always confused, and it distracts from the game. I've lost count how many times they spend minutes on wild speculation on who's been called for a penalty when it's blatantly clear to everyone else just from the original play and the 50 replays the truck are sending in. Houston's column was absolutely spot-on. For my money, it's Miller and McGwire, Cuthbert and Healy, Hughson and anybody but Millen, who loves his own voice way too much for someone who hasn't understood the game since the 80s. (That's what separates him from McGwire and Healy, whose loudness is forgiven because it's accompanied by insight.)

Anonymous said...

Cole is too busy crying in his Metamucil that the Leafs SUCK... the only thing that can get him excited is a soiled copy of Plus 40 magazine and a Toronto Maple Leafs Media Guide. He'd show emotion if Edmonton lost... cause to him, if it ain't Toronto it don't matter! Screw you Bob Cole, and the piss soaked Depends you sit in!

Coluch said...

Is Cole actually a leafs fan? Who cares? I can understand your arguments against the guy, but he IS a legend, bar none.

CUTHBERT was CBC's 2nd best, and they SHOULD get him back since he's much better than Hughson in my opinion! Colour commentary, I dunno who to pick. They all suck somewhat... I like the facts that Neale spits out better than anyone else's, but he sucks for actual analysis. The and noone else stands out from the pack AT ALL except the guys that SUCK HARD, like Millen and the awful Mcquire on TSN... Mcquire's Monsters!??? Fuck that dude is lame... export him to the states please. The new-to-hockey football fans might like that shit, but I hate the guy.

Dennis said...

I can't believe anyone likes Healey. There is a definite lack of good colour guys right now.

Pleasure Motors said...

the Chief comment by Cherry is irrelevant to the argument that he shouldn't be on the air. I still know people, native friends actually, that call each other chief, etc., and it IS respect, nothing less, nothing more.

Regardless of whether or not native people calling native people "Chief" is inherently offensive or not, the simple fact is that NHL players of that era were not saying it as a sign of respect. Or, uh, even if they were, it's that type of patronizing, inherently racist respect that's in some ways worse than blatant racism.

More to the point, though, I think this not only shows how incredibly out of touch Cherry is, but furthermore, why the hell is he talking about the NHL's treatment of Native players 30 years ago? Yes, I realize Ted Nolan is in the news--he's not related in any way, shape or form to the Oilers or the Ducks, though (and, I would argue, only marginally to that issue, too, considering the differences in climate). I like Kelly Hrudey because he's smart, but also because he breaks down the game that's actually going on, not just spouting off on whatever headline he happens to read in the newspaper that day. As a friend of mine said, putting Don Cherry up there is sort of like listening to your grandfather rant after a glass of scotch.

Also, as per Bob Cole and Harry Neale, I think everything bad about them is summed up fairly well in this clip of Peter Schaefer smoking Tim Connolly.

Neale has no idea which Sabre got hit, despite the fact Cole mentioned his name not five seconds earlier (you wonder if Cole knew, since he didn't correct him), then spends the rest of the time reading off of a fact sheet. Cole keeps insisting that Connolly took a pass with his head down, even though Cole was the one who was calling the play as Connolly skated up the ice with the puck (and he doesn't back down from this call when the replay clearly shows otherwise). Go Broadcast Team Alpha!

Rachael said...

Don't forget the fact that every adjective they use is the same and also an understatement. "Here comes big Pronger", and right after that, "And there's big Beauchemin"...no offense to Beauchemin, but if you're only calling Pronger big, you can't call Beauchemin the same thing. I've even wrote to the CBC and asked them to give him a Thesaurus, but I guess they didn't listen.

My favourite is "he's a pretty good skater"...of course he's a "pretty good" skater, he's in the NHL!

The only way either one of them will remember a players name is if there's a blue maple leaf on their jersey. I haven't noticed it too much in this series, as I don't know the players as well, but when you call Miller, Emery, and Emery, Miller, it's time to hang em up!

Anonymous said...

Believe me, as a Canucks/Oilers fan watching the game out west, and having to switch from Jim Hughson's eloquent analysis after rounds 1 and 2, to Cole's tired and turgid recitation of exactly-what-you-see-on-your-tv-screen (he's like a hockey stenographer), without any particular insight or wit, is frustrating to the say the least. Hughson is so far ahead of anyone else at this point, he's destined to become, well, the next Bob Cole...

Anonymous said...

Hughson is the best in the biz. Yes, Cole was the best at one time, but today's game has changed, and he hasn't kept up.

Anonymous said...

From the commentary of game 7 of the Edmonton/Carolina final

"As they say in the Farmers Almanac It doesn't matter how much you hurt in the morning, you still have to milk the cows"

I rest my case....

Anonymous said...

Cole was the best in the business.
Lately he is a bit off. He is just not calling the game like he used to. I know he has gotten some heat of calling the game lob sided (favoring the leafs), and he has also been in the hospital a few times over the past few weeks.
Maybe this is why he is not on the ball. I wouldn't say that he needs to retire, I think he should finish out the season and see if he can get back on his game.

As far as NHL commentators go, Bob Cole, Harry Neale, and Jow Bowen are the best I have ever heard.

I really hope Bob has a few years left in the business. I really appreciate his commentary - especially when he is paired with Neale.