Voice of the Flames to call Olympics
Peter Maher will broadcast Olympic hockey on Rogers network
Ditto for Olli Jokinen and Miikka Kiprusoff with the defending silver medalist Finns.
But even prior to the various national roster selections leading up to Jan. 1, one Flames employee was already guaranteed a spot at GM Place. The best seat in the house, in fact -- 90 feet above ice level.
|THE PETER MAHER REPORT
|The Calgary Flames are pleased to welcome Peter Maher as a guest writer at calgaryflames.com and in Blaze Magazine. The long-time play-by-play broadcaster is in his 29th year of calling Flames games and has not missed a single puck drop. Maher is also a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
The Maher Report: Charter Travel
Iconic Flames play-by-play man Peter Maher has been chosen to call the action during Canadian hockey games for the Rogers Broadcasting radio network, a division of Rogers Media Inc., at the 2010 Winter Games.
The native of Campbellton, N.B., will be heard from coast to coast in Canada, on 51 FM and AM stations, calling the entire Canadian men's slate of preliminary-round games, the men's medal round, and the women's gold-medal final.
For Maher, a Hockey Hall of Famer, it's the missing piece on a dazzling resume.
"I'm pretty excited about it. I've never had the opportunity to even go to the Olympics. Even when they were here in Calgary (in 1988), we were on the road most of the time," says Maher, 61, the voice of Flames radio rightsholder FAN 960.
"So to have an opportunity to broadcast an Olympic Games . . . yeah, it's probably about the last thing I haven't done in my career, when you think about it," adds Maher. "When I think about it, going back to my days in New Brunswick, I've broadcast the Allan Cup, the Memorial Cup, the Hardy Cup, a little bit of college hockey, the NHL, the world championship, All-Star games, and the Stanley Cup final. This is pretty much the last step."
In fact, there hasn't been much of an opportunity like this for Maher or his broadcast-booth counterparts. NHLers weren't allowed to participate in the Olympics en masse until 1998, and there wasn't a Canadian network radio broadcast established at Nagano, Salt Lake City or Torino.
"It looks like this is the one chance, ever," notes Maher, "because right now, it doesn't appear the NHL players will be participating (at Sochi, Russia in 2014)."
Maher will be joined in the booth at Vancouver by colour commentator John Garrett, a former NHL goaltender and longtime TV analyst for Rogers Sportsnet. Howard Berger, of Toronto's FAN 590, will host the broadcasts.
Maher knows the NHL like a book, of course. So the biggest obstacle will be a he-said, she-said sort of thing.
"Right now, the biggest challenge is going to be broadcasting the women's game. I've never broadcast a women's game," says Maher. "I've already talked a bit to (former Canadian team captain and Hockey Night in Canada broadcaster) Cassie Campbell about it, and she tells me the terminology is pretty much the same. The girls like to be called defensemen, not defensewomen, so that helps.
"I think the biggest challenge there -- and I'm not sure I'm going to be able to conquer it, though I'll give it a good try -- will be saying 'she' nstead of 'he',"adds Maher with a chuckle. "I've been a broadcaster for about 36 years, now, and it's always been 'he.' Hopefully, if I slip up, people will understand."
Maher and his trademark 'Yeah, baby!' cry have been an integral part of Flames lore since the club moved to Calgary from Atlanta in the fall of 1980.
Maher, who'd spent the previous three seasons as the voice of the Toronto Maple Leafs, joined the Flames radio broadcast team during Calgary's maiden 1980-81 season as the host of Flames games and post-game call-in shows.
He took over the mic from Bart Daly to begin the 1981-82 season and, nearly 30 years later, still hasn't missed a broadcast. That's a string of 2,373 straight Flames regular-season and playoff broadcasts, not counting pre-season and international exhibition games, through the perils of strep throat and North American air travel.
In November 2006, for his dedication and contributions to the game, Maher was recognized by the Hockey Hall of Fame as a media honouree, and given the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award.
And speaking of Hewitt . . . NHL fans from the Big Smoke may recall that Maher was the broadcaster who replaced the legend of the Canadian airwaves during the 1977-78 NHL season, after a rightsholder bidding war between rival stations.
"Things happened so fast, there, that I didn't even have a chance to think about what was going on," recalls Maher. "It was really such a surreal feeling. I learned about the Toronto job being available on the Labor Day weekend. I called on the Tuesday . . . two weeks later I did an audition . . . and (six days later) we did our first live game.
"It was only later that I had a chance to sit back and think about it. That was probably the best way for it to happen. If I had a lot of time to think about it, I don't know how I would have handled it."