Holy Mackinaw! Son of Leafs announcer Joe Bowen, begins broadcast career in Sudbury

·4 min read
David Bowen played seven games for the Sudbury Wolves from 2017-21. (Submitted by SWSE - image credit)
David Bowen played seven games for the Sudbury Wolves from 2017-21. (Submitted by SWSE - image credit)

This September, the unmistakable voice of another Bowen will be ringing out across Ontario airwaves.

David Bowen, son of legendary Toronto Maple Leafs announcer Joe Bowen, will be calling the shots from the broadcaster's booth when the Sudbury Wolves of the Ontario Hockey League hit the ice for their 50th season.

Bowen, 22, is expected to provide play-by-play for more than 30 games in the Wolves' 68-game schedule on community radio station CKLU-FM.

It's a similar path that his father took. Joe Bowen honed his skills calling Wolves games in the 1970s on now-defunct CKSO, a community radio station based out of Sudbury, before landing a role with the Leafs.

The elder Bowen, who was born and raised in Sudbury, has called Leafs games since 1982, earning the moniker "the voice of the Maple Leafs."

"The 12-year-old me wouldn't believe that I'm pursuing the same career that my dad is in, but I'm enjoying every minute of it so far," Bowen said.

After a stint as goalie with the Sudbury Wolves of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL)– Bowen logged seven games with the Wolves between 2017-21– and an opportunity with the Laurentian University Voyageurs that never panned out.

The younger Bowen said he's ready to bring his own perspective to the game.

"My perspective of what goes on the ice is a little different than anyone that hasn't been in my position," Bowen said. "So I think that that gives me a bit of a leg up."

"The other thing is both me and my dad are goalies, and for some reason goalies tend to be the better broadcasters," he said. "All I've done my whole life is just watch the game unfold in front of me and I could tell you what's going to happen next, every time."

Submitted by SWSE
Submitted by SWSE

Although he has no plans on emulating his dad's style, he still looks to the elder Bowen for broadcasting tips.

"If you listen to my dad on the radio, you know where the puck is," he said. "You know what team has the puck, you know what the score is, you know if a team's on a power play."

"You can almost visualize the game when my dad's calling it on the radio," he said. "And that's the goal for me, because if you're listening on the radio, you want to know who's got it and when someone's going to score."

"You've got to build the excitement up to that point."

But don't expect to hear David using his father's well-known catchphrase– "Holy Mackinaw"– to punctuate a dazzling play.

"'Holy Mackinaw' will be reserved for two things for me: One, If the Wolves can ever win the Memorial Cup, then maybe I'll let one go there," Bowen said.

"And if I ever get my dad's job, then if the Leafs ever win one, then I'll let one go there. But I'm not using that word in any other moments other than those two."

Goalies tend to be better broadcasters. - New Sudbury Wolves announcer David Bowen

Rob Straughan, general manager of CKLU, said it was a "full circle" moment when the station's executives first considered bringing Bowen onto the broadcast team.

"To bring in the son of one of the great alumni from Wolves history in broadcasting for the 50th anniversary is definitely a full circle moment," Straughan said. "Bringing a Bowen back into the building just felt so right. And we're just glad that he was willing to do it."

Straughan, who said he still has Wolves programs from when the elder Bowen was broadcasting, said he's looking forward to hearing a unique perspective on the action at ice level.

"[David] still has a rapport with a lot of players in the OHL and with the Wolves," Straughan said. "He's close to their age and he'll be riding the buses with them to go to these games."

"So he does have a different perspective, having just played in the league and being friends with some of these guys. It just brings a different angle that a lot of announcers probably don't have in this league."

He also has access to a fine teacher.

"You couldn't ask for a better mentor, a coach, because he's living with the guy, you know?" Straughan said. "His dad is the most legendary radio play-by-play caller in this country."

As for whether or not the son will continue along the same path as his father and end up calling games for the Leafs, Bowen said it wouldn't hurt the organization to give him a shot, someday.

"Obviously everyone knows my old man has been calling the games for about a half century now and the Leafs haven't won anything," Bowen said.

"So I figured I may as well get into the business and hopefully when he's done, maybe I'll bring some good luck to the team."

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