In case you missed the news earlier this week, CBC, Sportsnet and parent company Rogers has decided to sit legendary hockey broadcaster Bob Cole for the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, to the utter dismay of hockey fans across Canada and the United States.
And, as you might expect, Cole is not happy with the decision. "The decision sure wasn’t mutual,” Cole said. “It was right out of the blue. Rogers decided to go with other (broadcast) teams and I have to live with that. But it was their decision - not mine."
The 84 year old has been a staple of Stanley Cup Playoff action for decades now, but Rogers has made the decision to go with Jim Hughson, Rick Ball and Paul Romanuk as its leading men. The decision doesn’t sit well with Cole.
"It’s difficult to live with the fact that I’m not working. I surely will miss not working the playoffs. That’s the best way I can say it."
Again, he adds that the decision was not made with his consultation at all, saying, “" ... But I was never told that once that playoffs start, I wouldn’t be working. I’m not going to be part of it all. That’s kind of tough, but you have to live with it."
That’s awful. Whatever your feelings are about the way Cole calls the game, no professional deserves to be shut out from their job without a proper explanation. It’s especially awful when you consider all that Cole was given to the game over the decades. He’s a legend, an icon and this is no way to treat a man who has given more to hockey broadcasting than perhaps any other.
Sportsnet president Scott Moore offered up a statement in response to the negative fan reaction, but it’s having little impact on fans who feel slighted.
“Bob Cole is, without doubt, one of the greatest broadcasters in hockey history and an icon in Canadian television,” Scott Moore, president of Sportsnet & NHL Properties, Rogers Media, said in a statement. “He is revered across this country and loved by legions of hockey fans around the world. His career, which has spanned more than 50 years, is one to be celebrated.
“We made a difficult decision this year not to include him in our playoff plans. This decision in no way diminishes the admiration we have for his substantial body of work.”
So… will the 84 year old be back for 2018-19? Not even he knows.
“You never know with the way things are going,” he said. One thing’s for sure though, he’s not ready to retire on his own volition. If he’s out, he’ll need to be forced out.
“I’ve been pretty lucky over the years that my voice has continued to serve me,” he said. “I hope that it has served the viewing audience OK. I just love my job. Once someone tells you that you’re not going to be involved in the playoffs, you have to respect that decision. There’s not much you can do about that.”
If this is indeed it… thank you, Bob. You’re a big part of the reason why we all fell in love with this game. Once again, thank you.