Good Day MLHS readers! How was your Sunday? Did you find that you got your best night’s sleep? Did the air feel a little crisper, the sun shine a little brighter? Does everything in your life feel significantly better? I sure found that to be the case. Why? THE LEAFS ARE IN THE MUTHA FUNKIN’ PLAYOFFS!!!1 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

(Deep Breath)

Okay, I’m good now. This weekend is just the start of the good times, we’ve got at least four hockey games in May worth watching and I’ll optimistically say I think we’ll be seeing more than seven this year. We may not yet know who the Leafs are playing in round one, but we know for sure that CBC will be the network carrying the games.

Why do we know that for sure? It’s because CBC gets first pick of games before TSN and showing the Leafs is akin to printing money. No other Canadian team provides the viewership that the Leafs do, and even if the Senators and Canadiens were to face each other, I’d have to imagine the Leafs would still be the priority series in the eyes of the Networks. I’m pretty sure CBC gets the first and second pick anyway so it’s likely that either the Canucks or Habs series will slide to TSN. This, however, is not the point.

My biggest concern of such a historic moment for the Leafs in Hockey Night in Canada’s 60th season will not be called by its rightful heir, Bob Cole, but instead we are going to be forced to suffer through Jim Hughson’s open disdain of the Leafs, and his voice that sounds like a drowning Muppet.

Bob Cole has a proud legacy with the Leafs. For almost three decades he was the voice of the Maple Leafs for CBC games, meaning the last time Toronto was in the playoffs this was his gig. He’s given us the Borschevsky, Gilmour, Valk overtime winners. He’s the man behind “Sundin…PING…Scores”, a plethora of “Dandy” goals, and enough “Oh Baby” Potvin saves to last a lifetime. Most importantly, he’s genuinely excited to be covering the team. It’s nice hearing someone try to capture the excitement of Kessel carrying the puck in on a two on one, instead of Hughson who immediately summons his CBC fact checker to tell us to the minute how long it’s been since Kessel last scored.

Simply put, Cole gets it, and Hughson doesn’t. The goal of a play by play announcer should be to try and establish a feeling that anything could happen (or for that matter that “Everything is happening”) not attempt to lull the listeners into sense that everything that is happening is somehow routine (unless Luongo is making a save, then amazingly Jim shows some signs of life). You can criticize Bob Cole for not being able to keep up with the game as well as he used to (or not being focused on how names are pronounced), but fundamentally he has a greater picture understanding of the game that is missed in Hughson’s attempts to find something meaningful to add to the experience and failing.

The Bob Cole experience is just that, nothing but Bob Cole and anyone else just takes away from it (though Harry Neale was solid in the role once upon a time). Hughson turns the game into a roundtable conversation between himself and Craig Simpson (and in worst case scenarios Glenn Healy). None of them have anything to add beyond the superficial storylines they looked at prior to the game and as a result cite the exact same philosophies you can find on any sports talk radio station or in any newspaper in North America. Bob Cole is different. He’s been actively calling hockey week in and week out for over forty years, and while the game has changed and left some broadcasters and their philosophies in the past, Bob Cole has embraced the evolution of the game and seems to now have an appreciation for players that decades ago he enthusiastically claimed, “They’re going home.” There is no judgment assigned to players when he calls the game; there isn’t any preset hostility towards players, just a belief that every shift has the potential to show him something that he has never seen before. There is rarely a narrative to Bob Cole game, only a passionate recital of events. A tied zero-zero game of trap hockey always seems more interesting if you listen to Cole call it. You buy in to his hype that the next shift is going to be the one that breaks the game wide open.

Bob Cole has matched Foster Hewitt for length of service when it comes to Hockey Night in Canada, and in this the anniversary year of the Canada’s most sacred broadcast you would hope the CBC would embrace the nostalgia of reuniting the broadcaster with the team that he been most associated with over his tenure. Cole deserves it. The Leafs deserve it. And perhaps most importantly, we the fans deserve it.

If you agree with me on this, I hope you’ll let CBC know how you feel before they commit their broadcast teams to each series.  Their contact page can be found here, but I have my doubts that the intern who monitors website feedback will be getting this information in front of Hockey Night executives anytime soon. I’d suggest letting as many CBC personalities on twitter know who you’d prefer to call the Leafs series, but if someone can track down some CBC email addresses, we can see about adding them to this post.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot…



Did the Leafs Emphasis on Fighting Help them make the Playoffs? (The Leafs Nation)
The answer shouldn’t surprise you.

Tyler Biggs wants to show he’s a top six guy (Kyle Cicerella)
That would certainly be nice.

Leafs ‘Earn Respect Back’ with Playoff Berth (TSN)
And now we dance.

It’s time to accept James Reimer (The Hockey Writers)
Replace ‘accept’ with ‘build monuments of.’

The playoffs will bring a lot of fun for fans—and even greater scrutiny for the Maple Leafs…. (VLM)

Brace Yourself: Spring is Coming (Five Minutes for Fighting)
My early Conn Smythe favourite is Dion Phaneuf