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Ray Ferraro, Damien Cox, Pierre McGuire: Praising (or not) the ever-present hockey talking heads

I’m not sure I have anything original to contribute today when it comes to the Leafs, other than a bit of my same-old, same-old.  So instead, my thoughts are leaning toward a discussion as to "mainstream media" people I enjoy the most when they are talking hockey—either on television or the radio.

I guess I’m referring to those times when we hear/see these individuals on one of those seemingly never-ending panel discussions, or listen to them being interviewed on the various sports talk radio outlets.

I’ll start by simply saying I can’t usually tell the difference between, for example, Darren Millard and Darren Dreger.  For me they’re pretty much the same guy.  (Didn’t they used to be at the same network?)  I think Dreger is the one we hear being interviewed a lot on one of the radio networks and also often sits on one of the aforementioned panels.

In any event, the names kind of run together, but some of the individuals that pop up that I seem to hear, at least (and in no particular order), include John Shannon, Nick Kypreos, Bill Watters (now only on radio), Gord Stellick, Glenn Healy, Bob McKenzie, Brian Duff, Pierre McGuire, Elliot Friedman, Ray Ferraro, Damien Cox, Doug MacLean, Kevin Weekes and Aaron Ward (is it Ward? He’s the former NHL defenseman…?) etc.  I’m sure I’m missing some of the guys who do this work, but you can remind me in your comments. In any event,  I’m mostly thinking about those who are on the  nightly panels on Sportsnet, TSN or the NHL Network and on The Fan 590 or TSN Radio, along with AM 640 in the Toronto market.

Let’s be clear:  all of the above “know” sports and, more particularly, know their hockey.  (Anyone who has played or coached at the NHL level knows a hell of a lot more than I do about what is required to make it and stay at that level.) Now, when it comes to the others, the non-hockey players and various current talking heads, well, they are “knowledgeable”, too, but I’m less included to pay much attention to what they say.

To be clear, I don’t much care about guys who are considered “insiders” or who their contacts are or, for that matter, whether they “break” a story five seconds before the other network.  That kind of thing makes absolutely zero difference to me.  I’m far more interested in what someone has to say (regardless of whether they are mainstream/well-known or not) that is genuinely insightful and whether they are someone I enjoy listening to and perhaps make me consider an issue from another angle.

For the purposes of this discussion today, I’m mostly interested in your thoughts, but if I had to “rank them” in order of personal enjoyment—based on their being articulate, engaging and giving me something I don’t already know/see myself (and, I guess, just not annoying me)—I’d consider the following as mini personal guideline:

  1. Ray Ferraro.  Long-time NHL’er (who has a son, if I’m not mistaken, playing junior hockey—has he already been drafted?) is a natural on the radio.  Ferraro just seems like one of those former players who doesn’t always have to talk about when he played, yet you know he speaks from that unique perspective.  He won’t go out of his way to trash guys but he tends to be less political than some others in his comments, so you get actual opinions, favourable or critical of players and/or organizations.  Unlike some, he doesn’t seem to have an axe to grind.
  2. Darren Dreger (if I have the right guy).  He speaks with some authority.  At least he sounds like he knows what he’s talking about.  I mean, I would never tune in anywhere just to listen to the guy, but I generally won’t turn him off, let’s put it that way.
  3. Don Cherry.  I admit I listen to Don these days whenever I can.  Perhaps it’s because he’s near the end of the line, and you just never quite know what’s coming next.  In truth, I went through a number of years where I mostly avoided “Coach’s Corner”.  I needed a long break.  And I wish, when I heard him simply being interviewed on say, the radio, that he could on occasion (like an old time WWF/WWE wrestler) step out of “character” and just talk hockey and not play "Don Cherry".
  4. I find Bob McKenzie hard to listen to simply because he takes himself so seriously—or at least he seems to.  Unlike most long-time sports writers, though, he has always focused on hockey so that’s his passion, presumably, and his area of expertise.  I rank him up there just because the guy stays on top of things and seems to be able to explain the sometimes arcane realities of the business side of hockey to us mere laymen reasonably clearly.  But there are times he is awfully dry.  It's like someone told him years ago that to be "professional", you had to be so serious.  It's hockey, not a discussion on the serious issues facing the Middle East.
  5. I used to enjoy Brian Duff when he was at Leafs TV and AM 640 briefly when he was there, but I only see him sporadically now at the NHL Network.  He is more in a host role and I’d probably prefer him as an “analyst”.
  6. Gord Stellick is a guy I enjoyed many year sago when he was a mid-day host on The Fan 590.  (I liked him much less on the old morning show.)  He has evidently found a nice new home in the afternoons on CBC satellite radio, is it?  I have seen  him a lot over the years on TV on one of the panels.  He often seemed to be trying too hard, rather than just being himself.  (Might be the format of these shows I don’t like…you’d think in 2012 they’d find something more natural and less stiff-seeming.  I'd rather they speak directly to each other than pretend they're talking with us by looking at the camera.  Personally, I’ve always enjoyed more of a true back and forth “round-table or “hot stove” type of hockey discussion, rather than....this guy talks, then the next guy, then the next guy, etc.  Oh well…)
  7. I’ll give Nick Kypreos this.  He has worked hard to become a broadcaster.  Otherwise, I don’t have much of an opinion.  He’s arrogant-sounding.  I wish he wouldn’t have to always play games with the host, or the ex-Columbus GM or whoever and could just talk hockey.  I’d like him a lot better if we didn't have to hear about the fact that he played a modest (if that) role on a Cup team 20 years ago.  I was watching, I remember, I get it.  He won a Cup…
  8. Pierre McGuire is an analyst I posted about in this space a while back regarding his role as a “in-game” ice-level analyst.  (Click here…).  I just feel that (and maybe he’s gotten better, I just could not listen to him any more…) from the first play of pre-season to his last breath, everything was so big, so important.  I couldn’t take it any more, all the hyperbole and yelling.  I wanted to yell, relax, I’m watching the game, too….I see what’s going on.  He had to fill every silence with something.  But that aside, he knows his stuff, obviously and is well connected.  From the little I hear of him he has toned things down on his radio appearances, which is really what we’re talking about today.  I still tend to turn him off, just because of earlier bad associations.
I guess the bottom line is, I like Ray Ferraro a lot when I hear him being interviewed on whichever of the networks he is associated with.  And you know what?  As I mentioned earlier, I'm probably missing somebody else that I really enjoy, too.  I'll likely remember after I post this...

Beyond that, well, you tell me— who do you like and why?  Who drives you around the bend?


  1. I know they were a somewhat biased crew, but Bowen and Beyak on MOJO were always fun to listen to. I, and many others I think, like our broadcasters to not be so smooth, polished or "authoritative" as so many are today. Most American broadcasts I just detest because of the dripping "know it all" feel of the broadcasters and the same tone they all adopt. Give me Cole and his sloppy yet excited calls soaked with his love for and long history with the game any day.
    In general, with each passing day, I'm less and less inclined to listen to much of anything talking heads are bleating to fill up their allotted time on air.
    Mforbes37's notion that he'd pay extra for a hockey feed with no talking heads at all resonates a little more with me every day.
    Who I hate? That's easy, and I sure wish CBC would take note- if I never had to listen to Hughson, Simpson or Healy again, I'd be a happy man. Throw McGuire in there as well- so creepy and so uselessly bombastic. This is the only McGuire moment I love-

  2. Pursuant to my first comment, Michael, it's why I read every single post here. It's informative, reasoned, from a guy who's indubitably been there as a long-time fan, and the commentary is an exemplar of what sports discussion can be.

  3. Thanks for posting Kid K...and a particular thank you for the kind comment about the site- and for all that you contribute here...

  4. Great post.

    Guys I love:
    Elliot Friedman - gets the details right, avoids hyperbole, but works hard to try and provide interesting perspective.
    James Mirtle - like Friedman, avoids hyperbole and is not afraid of new ways to look at the game. Very logical. He is a refreshing change from the ex-jocks covering the game who rely to much on tried and true groupthink
    Stephen Brunt - hard to pinpoint, maybe I just like his voice (which is excellent), but while not a hockey guy, seems to bring up interesting perspectives.

    Guys I like:
    Don Cherry - don't listen to him very week, and his flaws are well known, but that giant heart is something we won't ever see on tv again after he's gone.
    Bob McCown - yes, he's an ass, but I like the way he plays Columbo to his cohosts - he often gets them to say more interesting stuff (and back it up) when he does

    Guys that I am lukewarm:
    Damien Cox - for a guy that's utterly unlike able in print form - his tone of writing is horrible, he's not bad to listen to or watch.

    Guys who I would not be sad to never see, hear, or read again:
    Eric Francis. Wow, not much insight, blatant anti-leaf basis, and comes across as an ass
    Doug McLean. Ok, I get it. You drafted Rick Nash. And?
    Glenn Healy. Seriously grumpy dude, who seems irritated all the time. Also a guy that brings up "his" Stanley cup at every opportunity.

  5. Exactly what I was looking for, William. Good stuff.

  6. I have enjoyed your blog for a while. Cheers, keep it up.

    There are so many media personalities covering the Toronto hockey market (or who at least touch on it periodically). Here are my biases:

    Elliot Friedman - works hard, tries to bring interesting perspective, avoids hyperbole... what's not to like?
    James Mirtle - unlike ex-jocks toeing the groupthink line, he is not afraid of alternative ways of looking at the game. increasingly becoming more interesting on the personal side of things too.

    Stephen Brunt - doesn't exactly cover hockey but has a killer voice for radio and is very pragmatic - a quality lost on many commentators
    Don Cherry - clearly has his faults, and like you i have taken long breaks, but he is a character we are unlikely to ever see again once he is gone, and he is still amazingly good at some aspects of ingame analysis.
    John Shannon - great stories, great voice, but a little too "establishment" for my view.
    Mixed Feelings:
    Damien Cox - for a guy who writes such fan baiting crap much of the time in the newspaper, he is more likeable on tv/radio and consistently takes the anti-consensus view.
    Doug Maclean - he has some interesting views, and i love his east coast accent, but for the love of pete - yes we all know that you drafted rick nash!
    Strong dislike:
    Eric Francis - CBC is going steadily downhill and he is a great example. constantly negative, clear anti-leaf bias (simpson and hughson are pro-canuck, but not anti-leaf), and i'm sorry, seems a little thick when it comes to understanding complex points.
    Glenn Healy - too angry, too negative, too loyal to where he came from.

  7. ha. didn't see the first one so i posted twice. funny to see differences!

  8. Bob Cole - I used to enjoy Bob about 7 yrs ago. Sadly, age has caught up with him and as passionate and dedicated as he may be, he's not fit for prime time any more.

    Harry Neale - I miss his great analysis and his subdued wit. He had good chemistry with this next guy...

    Joe Bowen - for homers, can't beat Bowen. I love his enthusiasm, and his ability to make the most routine stop sound like a game-7 saving stop! If you're a Leafs fan, he's the guy you want calling our eventual cup-winning game for sure...

    Greg Millen - I like his colour commentary. Couldn't appreciate him on HNIC, but feel his easy-going personality and hockey sense really comes out on the Leafs broadcasts.

    Don Cherry - another guy I absolutely used to enjoy, but perhaps his best-before date is near. Can't argue with his passion, but really has offered no new insight on the game in years, so has turned to armchair politician.

    Ron McLean - perhaps the most annoying of an annoying HNIC crew. Blatant pandering to Cherry, self-promoting combative interviews with Bettman, all sideshows.

    Cassie Campbell - I wish CBC would allow her to take on a bigger role. She has made some terrific observations and has been an outstanding Canadian athlete, and obviously understands the game. I think she could provide a unique perspective, and I've enjoyed it when she's been given a chance to do colour/analysis Why they have her doing 30-sec interviews is beyond me.

    Guys that make me tune out - Steve Simmons, Damien Cox, Nick Kypreos (seriously, how many times can you say "at the end of the day..."), Barnaby, McKenzie, Milbury, the guy who hosts TSN's hockey hour or something...


  9. I have to admit that I do like Don Cherry. Yes, he's not always politically correct and some of the stuff he says makes me cringe, but he's passionate about hockey, and passionate about Canada. If you ask me which one TV/media personality I'd go have a beer with and talk hockey, it'd be Don Cherry - and it wouldn't even be close. Conversely, his friend Al Strachan who helped him pen his book is someone I don't like at all.

    There's a couple guys that have a regular hockey podcast that I do enjoy greatly and that's Jeff Marek (Sportsnet) & Greg Wyshynski (Yahoo Sports). They've got great synergy, and this strange humorous/serious nature about their podcast that works really well. Highly recommended.

    I was never a big fan of Dave Hodge. He certainly knows his stuff about hockey, but I just found him to be really stiff - not very personable.

  10. It's all good, William- mild contrast is always fun!

  11. Caedmon...I enjoyed your breakdown! These feelings that we have are all personal, but I tend to agree with a lot of your comments. (On the Kypreos reference, you'd think one of the producers at Sportsnet would mention that to him. Bob McGill, a nice guy who does some good work for Leafs TV, has a similar crutch phrase that could easily be "corrected" if someone just spoke with him about it...)

    I think MacLean is trying to sound like a "journalist" when he interviews Bettman...

    on Campbell...I agree that her analytical skills are wasted on meaningless in-game player interviews- which remain a waste of time for all concerned...

  12. Thanks Hogie. I'll try to check on the podcast you reference. Interesting comment on Hodge. Wonder if some others feel similarly?

  13. I like Healy and Cox (in fact I'm surprised there are so many comments in this list of people who appreciate their insights even if at times they have an axe to grind). I think the contrarian view they provide is great perspective that they provide and homers often cannot tolerate it.

    Also I do not like the whole Wilson/Burke vs MSM story. I wish Burke would stop censoring the media pushing his agenda it detracts from hockey.

  14. Thanks Anon. On the Wilson/Burke vs mainstream media question- I've posted a number of times in the past here on Burke and Wilson in this regard. You may have a different perspective, but for those who have not seen those pieces, they are available if you visit the "Categories" section of the site under Wilson, Burke or Don Cherry, for example....

  15. For me, the play-by-play guys should adhere to the "less is more" philosophy. As you say above, I can see the game! I don't need wall-to-wall chatter.
    The truth is, the approach to hockey on TV is still really radio - with pictures. And Foster Hewitt was the best in either medium. I watched a vintage game a while ago - his timing, and his sense of when to talk and when to shut up, were perfect. (His son, Bill, was excellent as well. And I have to add the inimitable Danny Gallivan as another of my faves from the gilded age). So... in no particular order...

    Bob Cole - waaaaay too talky. He gets players wrong, and he keeps telling us what they're thinking as they go into the corner. I hate that, and can't stand his style. I search out alternate feeds when he's on.

    Gord Miller - A favorite. Knowledgeable without overkill. Does he do Leaf games any more?

    Jim Hughson - feels more contemporary than Cole.

    Joe Bowen - another fave, great timbre, but I tire of the "banter" between him and Millen. Once or twice, OK, but it distracts from the action for me. And he misses significant plays while chortling (again) about Millen's career.

    Chris Cuthbert - Solid.

    James Duthie - Does a good, pro job. I don't like his tendency to to take cheap shots at his panelists, but he keeps things moving and has a sense of humour.

    Elliotte Friedman - Another fave. He doesn't get into the macho bluster of people like Milbury and Cherry.

    Bob MacKenzie - I like his knowledge of the game and what's going on behind the scenes.

    Ray Ferraro - Uses his experience well to back up his game observations.

    Darren Dreger - Seems to always puff out his chest and stand stiffly when talking, as if to add gravitas to his statements, but seems to have reliable info most of the time.

    Millard/Kypreos/MacLean - I just go to another channel.

    Others I like are Craig Button, Mjke Johnson, Katherine Tappen, Brian Duff, Kevin Weekes, David Amber - in fact, the whole NHL Network team. To my eyes and ears, they bring the best combination of knowledge, insight, and experience to the table, er, screen.

  16. I have strong, strong feelings about the MSM so I won't go into who I like best to worst here, or else I'll crash your server with the longest comment ever.

    Dreger is Dave Nonis' cousin so I like him because I trust what I say about the Leafs. Beyond him, it's basically Bob McKenzie and then whoever I find entertaining that day.

    I find the problem with a lot of these guys is that they have no training for being in front of a TV. I always feel like John Shannon is yelling at me. Sportsnet really needs to improve the quality of their analysts, Kypreos is the only one on there that I can stand. Seeing Damien Cox on my TV makes me ragey.

    What about newspaper guys? I mean there's the obvious Steve Simmons that I assume we all hate, but there's some newer blood around that has been a nice infusion over the past couple of years. James Mirtle, Mike Traikos, Sean FitzGerald, soome of these beat writers give me more insight into the team than anyone on TV (save McKenzie and Dreger). Am I missing anyone there?

  17. Tremendous post, Gerund O' laid it out clearly and succinctly.

    Hey, you're taking on a legend when discussing Cole! Kudos to you for being honest about your sentiment there. This is all very personal in terms of our own feelings and what we like and don't like, and what we do and don't enjoy. I hear you on Cole, though I know he is beloved by many, and that's fine, too. We don't all have to love the same commentators. (I used to really enjoy Jim Hughson 20 years ago or so...much less so now, for example. Things change...)

    You likely know I've posted on Gallivan and Foster in the past. Loved Danny on TV, Foster on radio. Again, it's just what we all like, personally. Thanks!

  18. Good stuff Karina, I always appreciate your dropping by and taking the time to comment. (I appreciate what you're saying about holding back for space purposes...but I'm sure I would get a kick out of your assessments!)

    I probably focused too much on the radio/TV people, but I concur with your comments on the print side of things. There are some capable writers there who provide objectivity and insight- and aren't always trying to be funny...(I enjoy Zeisberger at the Sun, myself, as well...)

  19. Having never lived in Toronto, I have been exposed to Joe Bowen’s announcing just recently. I do not know much about his past work, but I enjoy his casual confidence, sense of humor and unabashed homerism. Unlike Hogie, I find that the absence of Al Strachan has created a gaping void. I liked Strachan’s out-and-out refusal to toe the owners (now more like mega-corporations) ideological lines. In a sea of ever-so-subtle toadies, Strachan seemed to champion the players, and when deserving, the NHLPA. There was something of an old-school journalist in Strachan, a real, warts and all personality we have lost to something terribly insidious. I am talking about something that is manifest in product placement of McDonald’s coffee cups that stare back at us, emptily, from the vantage point of space age sets. Incidentally, I have heard that Strachan was helpful to and amiable with his junior colleagues, a sign of a good spirit.

    Another good spirit is Bob McGill. I enjoy his concision and the constructive coach-like tone he brings to his analysis. To paraphrase Don Cherry, a guy you would want on your team. I admire Pierre McGuire and Bob Mckenzie for their encyclopedic knowledge, although I think that Mckenzie would do better to avoid his occasional maladroit forays to promote Tea Party values. He should avoid embarrassing himself by trying to play in a league where he does not belong. If politics were hockey, McKenzie would be skating on his ankles.

    I like Dreger’s reliability, especially considering that he works in the murky world of trade rumour and speculation, where the only thing more important than reliable sources are false leads. Finally, I find James Mirtle’s willingness to acknowledge and interact with the fan-based sphere that we are in to be refreshing. In a world where hockey journalists and broadcasters feel that they have to create illusions of superiority to justify their existence, he represents an important element of an inescapable future that is more inclusive. Then again, whether we should each keep to our own side of the tracks is a question for another day.

  20. Woah, Anon... how can you think Healey and Cox have anything to contribute when they bring out their axes "to grind" so much? The thing with Cox is that he's really quite capable of contributing thoughtful, meaningful ideas into discussion about the Leafs but more often than not he goes to the lowest common denominator and just tries to rile everyone up. I mean, the guy has done that so many times that there was was an entire blog dedicated to pointing out how lazy his writing can be - Cox Bloc. Today, for instance, the Leafs were announced as part of the Winter Classic. Cox wrote about tennis. The Tennis season just started and none of the major tournaments are near. But let's ignore the biggest news of the day, shall we?

    And Healey... I detest Healey to the bottom of my soul. He seems to find ways to put down the Leafs even in games like this past Saturday where they played nearly flawless and beat the Senators 5-0. And his constant references to when he "won a cup" are incredibly bothersome, as he NEVER mentions that he sat on the bench behind Mike Richter who put in a stellar goaltending performance.

    I'm also shocked that there's a Leaf fan who doesn't like Bob Cole. His best days are far beyond him but he brings emotion to the game like no other that I can remember. Hughson has potential, yes, but he needs to get off of his high horse and start calling the game as if he were actually a play by play person and not God's Gift to Hockey. At least during Leaf games, I can stand him when it's other teams playing (although not the Canucks, his fondness for them sometimes makes him blind to what's actually happening on the ice).

    Speaking of the CBC, why did they think it was a good idea to hire a guy who REFUSED to play for the Leafs if they drafted him to be our colour guy? We got Wendel 1st overall even though Craig Simpson was the consensus #1 pick in that draft because Simpson refused to play for us. Maybe it was because of Ballard, but how does this get ignored? He's dramatically improved his commentary this season but as a taxpayer and Leaf fan, I wish I could have a better product on HNIC. They never should've gotten rid of Chris Cuthbert.

  21. Oh yeah and Duhatschek and Jonas Siegel deserve mentions. I really miss seeing Duhatschek on HNIC.

  22. I always enjoy your posts Bobby C.. So well written, with a solid perspective. I appreciate what all the really outstanding posters contribute here (I don't have to name them, you all know who you are)- and you're a big part of demonstrating that we can have conversations about the Leafs and hockey-related "issues" without taking shots. We can disagree while respecting what the other person has to say. Thank you.

  23. Karina...Duhatschek is someone I've always enjoyed listening to when he is talking hockey on the radio. Easy to respect the work of someone like that...

  24. I have to say this is an interesting discussion. I am assuming we are all Leaf fans here and the range of opinion is quite large. It must be tough for the major broadcasters to actually find someone whom we all love. Anyways here's my take.

    Jim Hughson: besides being form the same hometown he is a knowlegable guy. His voice is just smooth and easy to listen to.

    Craig Simpson: He is a very insightful guy. He doesn't talk over the play and usually his comments actually fit the game I am watching. I don't understand why so many Leaf fans think this guy hates the Leafs. When they are playing good he says it, when they are bad he says that.

    Elliot Friedman: Simply the best hockey writer out there. His 30 thoughts colum is outstanding. Knowlegdable without being arrogant. just excellent.

    Joe Bowen: As a leaf play by play guy very good. Knows the game and always makes it exciting. As a bonus was the play by play guy in Youngblood.

    Bob Mackenzie: Seems to take himself too seriously but is reliable. Usually accurate.

    Ray Feraro: very good colorman. Smart, concise and a likeable guy.

    Gord Miller: good play by play guy

    Take Them or Leave Them:
    Chris Cuthbert
    Darren Dreger
    Nick Kyprios
    Bob McGowan
    Damien Cox
    Darren Millard

    All these guys have thier moments. Sometimes good sometimes bad. Sometimes they write or say things just to piss people off (Cox and McGowan). Generally I don't mind them.

    Just Plain Bad:
    Glenn Healy: Not relavant to todays game in any way shape or form. Picks one theme every game and hammers it home whether his video clips back his theory up or not.

    Bob Cole: Never liked him. Couldn't identify a player if the guy fell on him. Always a step behind the game and never seems to know what the hell is going on. Listening to him call a penalty is excrutiating, first he has to identify the team a 50-50 chance that he often gets wrong, then the player whom he can't name, then we come back from commercial to find out he was all wrong anyways, way beyond his best before date.

    Greg Millen:Can't stand this guy, has no personality at all. Listen to Bowen joke with him and 9 out of 10 times he doesn't get the joke. I saw him during a game while the play was still going on, draw a line across the screen to show us how Dallas lined up on the blueline to stop edmonton's rush. During the game. Moron.

    The Boston Guys: Horrible just plain horrible. I had to throw this in just to show that Boston as an orginization sucks at everything at least untill we beat them.

    Doug Maclean: Irritating. Always has to get the last word and always makes the story about him. It's like having a discussion with my 4 year old, only Tristan makes sense once in a while.

    Up and Comers:
    Mike Johnson: Former Leaf who is growing into the job of color commentary. Usually, very smart. Also not afraid to change his mind when something changes.

    Cassie Campbell: Clearly ready for more at CBC. Smart, classy and good looking. She should be doing color.

    Aron Ward: Has good opinions. Ties his experience in without seeming arrogant like Healy. Will be real good in a couple of years.

  25. Thorough and interesting- thanks Wilbur. I think you hit the nail on the head. Probably most people here are Leaf fans (at least people who love hockey) but we all have (in some cases) vastly different views on the same "personalities". For me that's all good, and all part of why it's hopefully of interest to develop a post like this one.


  26. Wilbur's description of Bob Cole is so bang on! I often wonder if Bob Cole is watching the same game as I am!
    My favorite team of commentators will always be Joe Bowen & Harry Neale (even though my heart still has a soft spot for Foster Hewitt and the introduction he gave me to this game and the Leafs). My wife has no interest in hockey so I always found myself watching the game on the basement TV by myself. But with Joe and Harry doing the commentary, I felt I was watching the game with two buddies. They made watching the game fun for me! They had a great interaction and were always entertaining.

    I agree with the singling out of James Mirtle as a very fair and objective hockey observer. I know he covers the Leafs and is necessarily focused on him, but his reports are very unbiased and show a real interest in the game of hockey which is very refreshing.

    I also think Eliotte Friedman is a very worthwhile observer and I am always interested in what he has to say.

  27. Ed...well said. Appreciate your input on this one....