Bob Cole (sportscaster)

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Bob Cole
Cole in 2012
Robert Cecil Cole

(1933-06-24)June 24, 1933
DiedApril 24, 2024(2024-04-24) (aged 90)
OccupationHockey announcer for Hockey Night in Canada
Years active1969–2019

Robert Cecil Cole CM (June 24, 1933 – April 24, 2024) was a Canadian sports television announcer who worked for CBC and Sportsnet and a competitive curler. He was known primarily for his work on National Hockey League's Hockey Night in Canada and Olympic ice hockey.

Early life[edit]

Cole was born in St. John's, Newfoundland, on June 24, 1933.[1][2] A knee injury suffered from playing soccer put Cole in the hospital for approximately six months as a youth. It was during this time that he would listen to Foster Hewitt calling games on the radio and developed an interest in becoming a sports announcer.[3] In 1956, Cole made an impromptu visit to Hewitt's office to present him with an audition tape. To Cole's surprise, Hewitt welcomed him in, listened to his tape, and talked with him for two hours.[3]

Ice hockey[edit]

Hockey Night in Canada[edit]

Cole began broadcasting hockey on VOCM radio in St. John's, Newfoundland, then CBC Radio in 1969 and moved to television in 1973 when Hockey Night in Canada (HNIC) expanded its coverage. Cole was the lead play-by-play announcer for HNIC on CBC, usually working Toronto Maple Leafs games, from 1980 to 2008. Aside from the Leafs broadcasts, he was also a staple for HNIC during the annual Stanley Cup playoffs. He broadcast at least one game in every Stanley Cup Finals from 1980 until 2008, after which he was replaced by Jim Hughson.[4][5]

In November 2013, Rogers Communications reached a 12-year deal to become the exclusive national television and digital rightsholder for the NHL in Canada, beginning with the 2014–15 season. Although now at the age of 82, Cole told the Toronto Sun that he wanted Rogers to call and tell him if he would be a part of their hockey coverage: "I still feel the same as when I was 50. I still love what I'm doing. I just want to do games."[6] Cole later stated, "I'd like to keep going. I feel good. I love the game. I still get passionate. I still get butterflies."[7] In June 2014, Rogers confirmed that Cole would be part of their play-by-play team.[8]

Sportsnet did not give any on-air assignments to Cole during the 2018 Stanley Cup playoffs.[9] On September 27, 2018, Sportsnet announced that he would be calling his 50th and last season with Hockey Night in Canada and a limited schedule of games in the upcoming season.[10]

On February 6, 2019, he received a video tribute and a standing ovation, during the Toronto Maple Leafs – Ottawa Senators game, on the occasion of calling his last game in Toronto, with his final play-by-play broadcast being the Toronto Maple Leafs-Montreal Canadiens game on April 6 at Bell Centre.[11][12][13][14] That night, the Montreal Canadiens beat the Toronto Maple Leafs by a score of 6–5 in a shootout. This game also happened to hold historical significance, as Canadiens forward Ryan Poehling scored a hat trick and a shootout goal in what was his first NHL game.[15] Cole's broadcasting career spanned 50 years.[16][17][18]


Cole's work during CBC's broadcasts of the Olympic ice hockey have also become memorable among legions of Canadians. His call on the final shot of the shootout in the semi-final game of the 1998 Winter Olympics at Nagano between Canada and the Czech Republic represented Canada's then-ongoing failure at the games and haunted fans for the next four years. With Canada scoreless in the shootout and Brendan Shanahan representing their last chance, Cole said in a panicked voice as Shanahan skated in towards Czech goalie Dominik Hasek, "He's gotta score, that's all!" But Shanahan was stopped by Hasek, prompting Cole to dejectedly say "No, he can't do it."[19]

At the gold medal game of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City between Canada and the United States, Cole's animated call of Joe Sakic's second goal of the game is also one of his more memorable moments. Also, when Jarome Iginla scored Canada's fourth goal of the game, with four minutes remaining in the third period, Cole was so excited when the goal was scored he yelled out "GORE!" (a hybrid of "goal" and "score"), and then proceeded to call out "Goal, Canada! Goal! Wow! A lot of Canadian fans here! The place goes crazy here in Salt Lake City, and I guess coast to coast in Canada, and all around the world!" When Sakic scored Canada's fifth goal with 1:20 remaining, Cole yelled out "Scores! Joe Sakic scores! And that makes it 5–2 Canada! Surely, that's gotta be it!" As the final seconds of the game ticked away, and as the crowd broke out in perfect unison singing "O Canada", Cole said, "Now after 50 years, it's time for Canada to stand up and cheer. Stand up and cheer everybody! The Olympics Salt Lake City, 2002, men's ice hockey, gold medal: Canada!"[20][21]

With an average Canadian audience of 10.6 million viewers, that game was the most-watched CBC Sports program, beating the previous record of 4.957 million viewers for Game 7 of the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals (the final game of the 1972 Summit Series between an NHL all-star team and the Soviet Union, which had been the most-watched sports program Canadian television history, was simulcast on CBC and CTV while Cole called the game on CBC Radio), in which the New York Rangers won their first Stanley Cup in 54 years, beating the Vancouver Canucks, another moment Cole himself called: "Here comes the faceoff and blare it Manhattan! The New York Rangers have done it here on a hot June night in New York! The Rangers are Stanley Cup Champions!"[22]

Colour commentators[edit]

Cole's long-time colour commentator on HNIC was Harry Neale, who first teamed up in the 1986–87 season.[23] From 1987 to 2007, the pair together called 20 Stanley Cup Finals, the 1998, 2002, 2006 Winter Olympics, the 1996 World Cup of Hockey, and 2004 World Cup of Hockey for CBC. Prior to that, his usual partners included Gary Dornhoefer,[24] Mickey Redmond,[25] or John Davidson.[26] Dick Irvin Jr. also often joined his broadcast team as a third man in the booth for big games. Following the departures of Neale and Irvin, Jr., his usual broadcast partners were either Garry Galley or Greg Millen.[26][27][28]


Prior to his career in broadcasting, Cole was a successful curler,[29] playing in the 1971 and 1975 Briers as the skip for the Newfoundland team. In 1971, he led his team of Les Bowering, Ken Ellis and Alex Andrews to a 4–6 record. At the 1975 Brier, he led his team of Joseph Power Jr., Andrews and Andrew Baird to a 1–10 record. He also played in the 1965 and 1973 Canadian mixed championship, playing second for Dave Pedley in 1965 and skipping in 1973.[30] The Pedley-led rink finished with a 4–6 record at the 1965 Mixed,[31] and Cole led Newfoundland to a 4–6 record at the 1973 Mixed.[32]


Cole died in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador due to natural causes on April 24, 2024, at the age of 90.[1][33]


In 2007, Cole captured his first Gemini Award in the area of Sports Play-by-Play.[34]

Cole was honoured in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1996 as the recipient of the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award for broadcasting excellence.[35]

In 2022, he was named the recipient of the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television's Lifetime Achievement Award at the 10th Canadian Screen Awards.[36]


Cole received an honorary Doctorate of Laws from Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John's in October 2002.[37]

In early 2016, Cole had a cameo at the end of Simple Plan's album Taking One for the Team, calling a fictional hockey game involving the band; he concluded the call with, "Oh my goodness, can you believe it? Just like that, Simple Plan have won the game!".[38]

On September 23, 2016, Cole was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada.[39]

From 2010 to 2014, Cole was the Voice of the Republic on the CBC TV series Republic of Doyle.[40] His voice could also be heard in the CBC 2013 TV film The Magic Hockey Skates (based on the book of the same name).[40][41]


  1. ^ a b "Cole dies at 90, called hockey for 5 decades on 'Hockey Night in Canada'". April 25, 2024. Retrieved April 29, 2024.
  2. ^ Ottawa Senators [@Senators] (June 25, 2013). "Happy 80th Birthday to CBC broadcaster Bob Cole from the Sens. We hope everything is happening on your special day. #HNIC #OhBaby" (Tweet). Retrieved January 7, 2021 – via Twitter.
  3. ^ a b The National. March 31, 2019. CBC Television.
  4. ^ "Hughson to replace Cole as Cup caller". Retrieved August 15, 2023.
  5. ^ Houston, William (September 16, 2008). "Hughson steps into Cole's spotlight as Hockey Night in Canada lead announcer". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved August 15, 2023.
  6. ^ Simmons, Steve (December 12, 2013). "Bob Cole waiting to see if he'll be part of Rogers hockey plans". Toronto Sun. Retrieved October 22, 2014.
  7. ^ Fitz-Gerald, Sean (June 1, 2014). "Bob Cole to return for another season with Hockey Night in Canada". National Post. Retrieved April 29, 2024. I'd like to keep going," he told host Andi Petrillo. "I feel good. I love the game. I still get passionate. I still get butterflies. If any of that changed, I'd think about packing it in. But maybe they'll get rid of me before I get rid of myself.
  8. ^ "Bob Cole to do play-by-play for Rogers hockey". Canadian Press. The Globe and Mail. June 3, 2014. Retrieved October 22, 2014.
  9. ^ Traikos, Michael (April 13, 2018). "'I will miss it': Bob Cole dismayed over decision to sideline him for playoffs". Toronto Sun. Retrieved June 6, 2018.
  10. ^ "Bob Cole returns for 50th and final season on Hockey Night in Canada". Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  11. ^ Gold-Smith, Josh (February 7, 2019). "Watch: Bob Cole gets tribute, standing ovation during final game in Toronto". Retrieved August 15, 2023.
  12. ^ "Bob Cole's final HNIC game will be Maple Leafs vs. Canadiens". Retrieved August 15, 2023.
  13. ^ Clipperton, Joshua (April 6, 2019). "Legendary play-by-play man Bob Cole makes final call". CBC. Retrieved August 15, 2023.
  14. ^ "Cole humbled by attention to final 'Hockey Night in Canada' broadcast". Retrieved August 15, 2023.
  15. ^ Spiegel, Jackie (August 12, 2021). "Canadiens' Ryan Poehling nets hat trick, then shootout game-winner in historic debut vs. Leafs". Retrieved August 15, 2023.
  16. ^ Klinkenberg, Marty (April 5, 2019). "After almost 50 years on the air, Hockey Night in Canada godfather Bob Cole hangs up his headset". The Globe and Mail.
  17. ^ Short, Robin. "ROBIN SHORT: 'I'm going to miss this,' Bob Cole says after fans, players salute famed hockey broadcaster | SaltWire". Retrieved August 15, 2023.
  18. ^ "Canadian broadcaster Bob Cole ends 50-year career". AP News. April 7, 2019. Retrieved August 15, 2023.
  19. ^ Larkin, Matt (November 9, 2018). "Top 100 Goalies: No. 5 – Dominik Hasek". The Hockey News. Retrieved April 29, 2024.
  20. ^ Wharnsby, Tim (December 20, 2018). "Bob Cole is now getting the send-off he deserves". CBC News. Retrieved April 29, 2024.
  21. ^ "A look at hockey broadcasting legend Bob Cole's most iconic calls". Times Colonist. Victoria. The Canadian Press. April 25, 2024. Retrieved April 29, 2024.
  22. ^ Ohler, Shawn (February 26, 2002). "Lucky Loonie Stunt Pays Off". Calgary Herald. p. A1. A record-busting average of 8.7 million Canadians watched on television as the men's hockey team snatched gold from the United States in Salt Lake City...The audience actually peaked at 10.6 million, the CBC said Monday...CBC says that prior to Sunday, its highest-rated sports show was Game 7 of the 1994 Stanley Cup between the New York Rangers and the Vancouver Canucks, which attracted an average of 4.97 million viewers.
  23. ^ Stubbs, Dave (October 25, 2003). "The voices of hockey in Canada". The Gazette. Montreal. p. C1. ProQuest 433983715. Retrieved April 29, 2024 – via ProQuest.
  24. ^ "CBC focuses on Leafs-Hawks across province". Ottawa Citizen. April 9, 1986. p. C3. ProQuest 238930029. Retrieved April 29, 2024 – via ProQuest.
  25. ^ Kulfan, Ted (September 5, 2019). "Wings legend Mickey Redmond set to be roasted for special cause". The Detroit News. Retrieved April 29, 2024.
  26. ^ a b Mercer, Nicholas (April 26, 2024). "Legendary broadcaster Bob Cole dead at 90". The Chronicle Herald. Halifax, Nova Scotia. p. C3. ProQuest 3046607828. Retrieved April 29, 2024 – via ProQuest.
  27. ^ Platek, Monika (January 17, 2013). "Hockey Night in Canada set to kick off exciting 60th season". CBC Sports. Retrieved April 29, 2024.
  28. ^ Stubbs, Dave (April 25, 2024). "Cole left impression on every game he called, everyone he met". National Hockey League. Retrieved April 29, 2024.
  29. ^ "Gushue: Cole gave young Newfoundlanders belief they could achieve big things". TSN. April 26, 2024. Retrieved April 26, 2024.
  30. ^ "NLCA Champions". Newfoundland and Labrador Curling Association. Retrieved April 26, 2024.
  31. ^ "Mixed Title Captured By Calgary Foursome". Saskatoon Star-Phoenix. March 22, 1965. p. 19. Retrieved April 26, 2024.
  32. ^ "Champions recall previous mistakes". Regina Leader-Post. March 31, 1973. p. 36. Retrieved April 26, 2024.
  33. ^ "Bob Cole, the play-by-play voice of countless NHL games, dies at 90". CBC. April 25, 2024. Retrieved April 25, 2024.
  34. ^ Davidson, Neil (April 7, 2022). "Oh baby, Bob Cole gets lifetime achievement award from Canadian Academy". CBC News. The Canadian Press. Retrieved April 29, 2024.
  35. ^ "Hockey Night in Canada inks Cole, Neale". CBC Sports. July 19, 2007. Retrieved February 11, 2010.
  36. ^ Corey Atad, "Canadian Screen Award Academy Announces 2022 Special Award Honourees And Changemakers" Archived January 18, 2022, at the Wayback Machine. ET Canada, January 18, 2022.
  37. ^ "Minutes of meeting" (PDF). Memorial University of Newfoundland. December 10, 2002. Retrieved April 29, 2024.
  38. ^ Yeung, Neil Z. (February 19, 2016). "Taking One for the Team – Simple Plan | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved March 11, 2016.
  39. ^ "Bob Cole, Lawrence Hill among Order of Canada recipients honoured at Rideau Hall". CBC News. September 23, 2016. Retrieved April 29, 2024.
  40. ^ a b "Bob Cole". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved April 29, 2024.
  41. ^ "Flashpoint series finale airs tonight". Times & Transcript. Moncton. December 13, 2012. p. D3. ProQuest 1237482866. Retrieved April 29, 2024 – via ProQuest.

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by Canadian network television play-by-play announcer
19812008 (with Don Wittman on CBC from 1985 to 1986 and Dan Kelly on CTV/Global from 1985 to 1988)
Succeeded by
Preceded by American network television play-by-play announcer
Succeeded by