As the season winds down, the results hold less and less meaning. Particularly when the Hawks are matched up against a team that will not be attending the playoffs. There is pretty much next to nothing to take away from these games. Nothing that happened tonight will change anyone’s feelings about the Hawks and whatever shortcomings they may have.
With that, allow me to pontificate on the man that was honored at tonight’s game, the legendary Pat Foley. For me (and like many of you), Pat Foley played such a significant part of my childhood. Every Blackhawks memory I have involves him in some way. His voice was just as synonymous with the game of hockey as two guys colliding on the boards or a puck off the post. For a long time, he was the best announcer in hockey and the competition wasn’t even close.
All that being said, things have changed.
First off, I want to commend Comcast Sportsnet for pulling out so many classic Foley calls. It would’ve been pretty easy to just pull a bunch of calls from the last four years and pass those off as Pat Foley’s finest work. Instead, they dug deep and found some of his best calls. And that was really great to see and hear.
The Hawks also did a good job celebrating the event as well. Not like that should come as a surprise to anybody because the Hawks could make potty-training your dog seem like one of the greatest achievements of mankind.
While it would have been amazing to hear from Dale Tallon at some point during the evening, that obviously wouldn’t have been realistic. Even if there weren’t hard feelings within the Hawks organization and Tallon, he is still the general manager of an NHL team (slightly debatable this year). And even so, they didn’t even bring Billy Gardner out to say anything and they spent a couple seasons together. It’s not like he has much going on; I’m positive he could take a five minute break from bitching about AHL refs to say hey.
For those that missed the segment on the pre-game show, I would highly recommend watching that. Comcast Sportsnet will probably be playing it a ton over the next couple weeks. It was a great look back on Foley’s beginnings; some of his best calls and good soundbites.
Of course, the one part that would be worth skipping is where he discusses his relationship with Ed Olczyk and vice versa. At one point, Olczyk talks about how important the chemistry the two have and that’s about the point where my eyes started rolling.
If you were to rank Pat Foley’s partners through his tenure, I don’t think I’d be out of line ranking them as follows:
- Dale Tallon
- Billy Gardner
- Ed Olczyk
Maybe it’s one of those things where I’m letting my memory get the best of me. And that’s not to say Tallon or Gardner didn’t have their faults. Tallon was so unapologetically obsessed with bitching about the referees that it would make Hawk Harrelson blush. Billy Gardner wasn’t exactly the most observant color commentator.
Nevertheless, what made them better partners was that they brought out the best of Foley. Even if the conversation steered off the game at hand, it was still entertaining enough that it didn’t deter from the broadcast (The clip of Dale Tallon saying ‘peepee’ on the air would have melted the Internet if it existed then. And if anyone can find said clip, that would be the tops). There weren’t any annoying catchphrases; there weren’t nightly pissing contests to show off how big their hockey brains were and there certainly weren’t 15 minute tangents to tell a story about what Stephane Waite did at practice for some homeless family that was standing outside Johnny’s Ice House.
Bottom line, while Foley and Olczyk may have chemistry, it has turned one of the greatest broadcasters in Chicago history into a hard listen on most nights.
But that still shouldn’t take away from the night’s festivities, on the ice and in the broadcast booth. It was still a very well-done event.