When is Joe Bowen’s Turn?

TORONTO (Nov. 14) — There is no arguing the merit of the two gentlemen inducted this year into the media wing of the Hockey Hall of Fame. Bob Verdi is the dean of sports columnists in Chicago and has covered the Blackhawks since the days of Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita and Glenn Hall. Sam Rosen has been the TV voice of the New York Rangers since 1984. They have richly earned the 2016 Elmer Ferguson and Foster Hewitt Awards.

But, when will Joe Bowen finally take a bow on induction night?

Bowen has been the radio voice of the Toronto Maple Leafs for 34 seasons, dating to 1982–83. Only Hewitt — the pioneer of sports broadcasting — held the position longer, calling the Leafs from 1926–27 through to the night of Feb. 23, 1976, when Toronto trounced Atlanta, 7–1, at Maple Leaf Gardens. Unlike Bowen, who has called virtually every Leafs game on radio or TV since 1982, Hewitt slowed after the 1967 expansion that doubled the National Hockey League to 12 teams. He began to assign longer road trips (St. Louis, Los Angeles, Oakland) to his son, Bill Hewitt, or to Ron Hewat, who was vice–president of sales and marketing at the radio station Foster founded in 1951: CKFH–1430 (now Sportsnet–590). Late in his career, Foster called only the occasional home game. Bowen, now 65, hasn’t taken a night off in nearly 3½  decades.

Moreover, a Maple Leafs fan would have to be in his or her mid–40’s to recall anyone other than Bowen as voice of the club. Two generations of radio listeners have grown up with the silvery–haired broadcaster, who called midweek Leafs games on Global–TV throughout the 90’s; then on TSN and Sportsnet into the second decade of the millennium. When Rogers Communications assumed control of Canadian NHL telecasts in 2014, Bowen returned full–time to radio. He has worked alongside analyst Jim Ralph for nearly 20 years.

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JOE BOWEN AT HIS HOME AWAY FROM HOME — THE AIR CANADA CENTRE. TORONTO STAR PHOTO

The Hall of Fame selection process is clandestine and never spoken about, publicly. As such, there is no assumed criteria for those welcomed as players, builders or media. One would think, however, that Bowen’s long tenure behind the microphone in such an intense hockey market would easily qualify him for the Elmer Ferguson Award. Perhaps next year — in 2017 — when the Toronto NHL franchise officially turns 100.

HOCKEY MEMORABILIA TORONTO STYLE

The semi–annual Sport Card & Memorabilia Expo took place over the weekend at the Toronto International Centre, as it does in May and November of each year. More than 250 dealers and private sellers brought their collectibles to the giant showroom across from Pearson International Airport. This version of the show celebrated the Toronto Maple Leafs Centennial season in the NHL. A host of former and current Leaf players were on hand for autograph sessions, including Johnny Bower, Darryl Sittler, Lanny McDonald, Borje Salming, Dave (Tiger) Williams, Mike Palmateer, Claire Alexander, Wendel Clark, Doug Gilmour, Gary Roberts, Jamie Macoun, Ed Belfour, Frederik Andersen, James van Riemsdyk and Morgan Rielly.

I attended the show on Saturday with my son, Shane, and my trusty NIKON:

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AN ARRIVAL FROM AMSTERDAM REMINDED US THE SHOW WAS ACROSS FROM PEARSON AIRPORT.

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AMONG THE DEALERS WAS FORMER NHL AND WORLD HOCKEY ASSOCIATION GOALIE GILLES GRATTON (BLACK BASEBALL CAP), WHO POSED (TOP–LEFT) WITH PAUL PATSKOU, MIKE WILSON (a.k.a. The Ultimate Leafs Fan) AND MY SOON–TO–BE 20–YEAR–OLD SON (IN HIS SCOTT STEVENS JERSEY). GRATTON AND YOURS TRULY THEN LOCKED SHOULDERS. GILLES WAS KNOWN — TO BE POLITE — AS AN OFF–THE–WALL CHARACTER WHILE PLAYING FOR THE OTTAWA NATIONALS/TORONTO TOROS IN THE WHA; THEN WITH ST. LOUIS AND THE NEW YORK RANGERS IN THE NHL (1972–77). BUT, I FOUND HIM TO BE A DELIGHTFUL FELLOW WITH A RAZOR–SHARP MEMORY OF HIS YEARS IN THE GAME.

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ONE–TIME MAPLE LEAF HEROES AND CURRENT FRIENDS BORJE SALMING (LEFT) AND DAVE (TIGER) WILLIAMS SIGNED AUTOGRAPHS FOR FANS THAT LINED UP THROUGHOUT THE AFTERNOON.

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SEATING MAP OF THE SOUTHWEST CORNER AT MAPLE LEAF GARDENS. BEGINNING IN 1975–76, MY DAD BOUGHT SEASON TICKETS IN SEC. 30, ROW F OF THE SOUTH MEZZANINE BLUES (BOTTOM–LEFT IN MAP). FROM THERE, I WATCHED THE BEST YEARS OF DARRYL SITTLER, LANNY McDONALD, SALMING AND CO. (THOUGH I SAT DOWN BELOW, IN SEC. 42 OF THE SOUTHWEST REDS, FOR SITTLER’S RECORD 10–POINT GAME AGAINST THE BOSTON BRUINS ON FEB. 7, 1976).

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BRIAN GLENNIE WAS CAPTAIN OF THE 1967 MEMORIAL CUP–CHAMPION TORONTO MARLBOROS.

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THESE WOOLEN SWEATERS APPARENTLY DATE TO THE 1940’s.

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POSTERS FROM 1971–72 OF DAVE KEON AND FORMER LEAFS TEAMMATE TIM HORTON, WHO PLAYED THAT LONE SEASON FOR THE PITTSBURGH PENGUINS.

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THEY WEREN’T CHEAP, BUT A NUMBER OF AUTOGRAPHED SEATS (ABOVE AND BELOW) FROM THE OLD MONTREAL FORUM COULD BE FOUND AT THE MEMORABILIA EXPO.

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MONTREAL FORUM CALENDARS WERE ALSO IN ABUNDANCE, THESE DATING TO 1953–54 AND 1969–70.

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ON OCT. 11, 1967, THE CANADIENS WENT TO PITTSBURGH FOR THE PENGUINS’ FIRST NHL GAME.

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PHOTOS OF BOBBY ORR IN HIS FIRST STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF SERIES — vs. MONTREAL, AT THE FORUM, IN THE SPRING OF 1968. THE HABS SWEPT THE BRUINS IN FOUR GAMES. AT LEFT, ORR CELEBRATES A GOAL AGAINST ROGIE VACHON, INDUCTED THIS WEEK INTO THE HOCKEY HALL OF FAME.

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RARE COLOR PHOTO OF BOBBY ORR PLAYING IN JUNIOR WITH THE OSHAWA GENERALS.

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GAME–WORN JERSEY OF TORONTO DEFENSEMAN TIM HORTON (LEFT) FROM 1961–62 AND MAURICE (ROCKET) RICHARD OF MONTREAL FROM 1958–59, HIS SECOND–TO–LAST NHL SEASON.

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A MONSTROUS KANSAS CITY SCOUTS PIN (LEFT) COULD BE HAD FOR $40.

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I BOUGHT THIS KANSAS CITY AT VANCOUVER PROGRAM (ABOVE AND BELOW) FOR $5.00. WHEN I GOT HOME AND LOOKED AT THE DATE (APR. 4, 1976) I REALIZED IT WAS THE SCOUTS’ FINAL GAME IN THE NHL. THE WOEBEGONE TEAM WOULD MOVE TO DENVER THE FOLLOWING SEASON AS THE COLORADO ROCKIES. DURING TWO YEARS IN K.C., THE SCOUTS COMPILED A RECORD OF 27–110–23.

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WARM HEAD–WOOLLIES (ABOVE AND BELOW) FROM TEAMS OF TODAY AND YESTERYEAR.

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THE HARTFORD WHALERS ROAD JERSEY — WORN, AT ONE POINT, BY GORDIE HOWE AND DAVE KEON.

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SIGNED NFL HELMETS: DWIGHT CLARK (SAN FRANCISCO). JOE THEISMANN (WASHINGTON).

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A COMPANY IN OTTAWA — MAN CAVE COLLECTIBLES — MAKES DEAD–RINGER RE–CREATIONS OF CHAMPIONSHIP RINGS… HERE, THE ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS FROM 2001 AND THE TORONTO BLUE JAYS FROM 1993. THOUGH THE DIAMONDS ARE OBVIOUSLY FAKE, THE RINGS ARE THE SAME WEIGHT AND SIZE AS THE ORIGINALS. VERY IMPRESSIVE.

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POSTER OF THE BIG M — FROM 1962.

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A COUPLE OF DECENT HALL–OF–FAMERS SIGNED THESE CLASSIC JERSEYS.

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YOU DON’T SEE TOO MANY BILL DANYCHUK GAME–WORN JERSEYS. THE TIMMINS, ONT. NATIVE PLAYED OFFENSIVE GUARD FOR THE HAMILTON TIGER–CATS FROM 1964–75. HE IS NOW 76.

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1970’s LOGOS OF THE TORONTO ARGONAUTS AND B.C. LIONS ADORN BEER GLASSES.

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TORONTO BLUE JAYS PARAPHERNALIA.

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A REPLICA PAUL HENDERSON MAPLE LEAFS JERSEY — CIRCA: 1970–71 TO 1973–74.

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MY SON, SHANE, BOUGHT THESE TWO ITEMS: A MONTREAL WANDERERS SWEATER (1917–18) AND LOS ANGELES KINGS JERSEY (CIRCA: 1998–2007). THE WANDERERS WERE AMONG THE ORIGINAL FOUR NHL TEAMS IN 1917–18, BUT WITHDREW FROM THE LEAGUE AFTER ONLY SIX GAMES WHEN THEIR HOME RINK, WESTMOUNT ARENA, BURNED TO THE GROUND.

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GAME–WORN JERSEYS OF (LEFT–TO–RIGHT) THE NEW YORK ISLANDERS (CIRCA: 1973–74), CHICAGO COUGARS (WORLD HOCKEY ASSOCIATION, CIRCA: 1974–75) AND ST. LOUIS BLUES (CIRCA: 1976–77).

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FOR A MEASLY SIX GRAND, YOU COULD BUY THIS REPLICA STANLEY CUP WITH AUTOGRAPHS OF MONTREAL CANADIENS PLAYERS FROM THE 1960’s. HABS WON THE CUP IN 1965–66–68–69.

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A REPLICA OF THE MASK WORN BY LEGENDARY GOALIE TERRY SAWCHUK WITH DETROIT, TORONTO, LOS ANGELES AND NEW YORK RANGERS FROM 1963 TO 1970.

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VINTAGE NHL PENNANTS (LEFT) AND THE POWDER–BLUE BLAZER WORN BY ON–AIR STAFF OF HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA THROUGH MUCH OF THE 1970’s.

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THIS WAS THE FIRST TORONTO EXPO SINCE THE DEATH, ON JUNE 10, OF MR. HOCKEY.

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AUTOGRAPHED WAYNE GRETZKY JERSEY FROM THE 1990 NHL ALL–STAR GAME IN PITTSBURGH.

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ROAD JERSEY OF CENTER BRONCO HORVATH, WHO PLAYED 10 GAMES FOR THE LEAFS IN 1962–63.

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ST. LOUIS AND MINNESOTA GAME–WORN JERSEYS FROM THE MID–70’s.

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A SIGNED BOBBY HULL CHICAGO BLACK HAWKS SWEATER FROM THE 1960’s. THE GOLDEN JET POSED WITH TONY AND PHIL ESPOSITO AT THE 1970 NHL ALL–STAR GAME IN ST. LOUIS.

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FRANCHISE–PLAYER JERSEYS OF THE PITTSBURGH PENGUINS.

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OH, HOW YOUNG “SID THE KID” LOOKED WHEN HE JOINED THE NHL IN 2005–06.

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POCKET NHL SCHEDULES WERE DISTRIBUTED IN THE 50’s, 60’s AND 70’s.

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AUSTON DIDN’T LEAVE IT ALL ON THE ICE IN OTTAWA, OCT. 12… DID HE?

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AND, YES, BOTH OF THESE POSTERS WERE VERY MUCH FOR SALE.

EMAIL: HOWARDLBERGER@GMAIL.COM

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