What makes a classic hockey announcer call?
Talk Hockey has attempted to define it in its top 30 hockey announcer calls of all-time, and there are a few common themes.
It has to involve a goal. It has to involve some level of championship competition. The best ones have some amazing quotable moment that lingers on through history – “MAY DAY MAY DAY” or “DO YOU BELIEVE IN MIRACLES?” make the list, to the surprise of no one.
And according to this list, it should involve the baritone of Gary Thorne, the former voice of the NHL in the U.S. during its ESPN/ABC contract. He makes the list seven times; more than Bob Cole (four) and Doc Emrick (two). Some of Thorne’s goal calls are so emphatic that they shake your soul; others stick in your brain long after the games have faded for their ingenuity.
Clear out 13 minutes and watch this countdown. What did they get right, and what did they miss?
A few observations on the list:
The Hidden Classics:
3. Paul Kariya goes "off the floor, on the board" (Gary Thorne). If you look at the entire list on the YouTube page, you might recoil at this getting such a lofty spot over other instant classics. But Thorne’s call of Kariya’s goal, coming back from a Scott Stevens hit in Game 6 of the 2003 Final, is amazing.
9. Patrick Stefan empty net miss, Hemsky ties it (Peter Loubardias). This is a call that never gets included in the best of all time, but listen to that journey from agony to ecstasy from Loubardias.
24. Joel Ward overtime playoff series winner (John Walton). Really happy this made the list. It was the radio call of the Capitals’ Game 7 win at the Boston Bruins, and Walton just goes insane.
The Iffy Ones:
28. Darren McCarty highlight-reel goal versus the Flyers (Gary Thorne). There’s a lot of Gary Thorne love on this list, and rightfully so, but while this McCarty goal remains one of the most stunning of the Red Wings’ Cup runs, it’s standard issue G-Thorne.
23. Chicago Blackhawks win the 2013 Stanley Cup (John Wiedeman). Sure, it’s OK, and obviously better than the call when the Toews/Kane Blackhawks won their first Cup, which we think went like, “Shot by Kane … save … maybe … wait … oh, hey, Chicago won the Stanley Cup … but where’s the puck and why does that linesman look so shifty?” But it's not exactly classic.
14. Alexandre Burrows Game Seven overtime goal (Jim Hughson). Unless this is a great example of an announcer getting out of the way of a giant booming goal horn. Whatever the case, it’s not No. 14 worthy.
The Greatest Controversy
Look, the Miracle On Ice call is the greatest in hockey history. If not that, they Howie Rose's call on the Matteau goal. Both are lightyears ahead of the Ray Bourque call, which is nice and all but were the final words of a forced narrative in a team sport. But there's a dot-CA after the author site's blog URL, so ...
The Greatest Omission
Here at Puck Daddy, we’ve chronicled our share of memorable hockey calls. While we understand the soundbyte limitations of the list likely disqualify that classic “EVERYBODY’S THE THRD MAN!” call from the Federal League this season and the best hockey call of all time from the CHL from Travis Huntington, we must protest that nothing from this James Lilledahl call from the NAHL made the list:
“IT WAS A CLEAN HIT!”
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- Gary Thorne