“Oh dear!” Remember 10 of Bob Cole's most legendary calls

The hockey world lost its voice this week, with the passing of legendary CBC broadcaster Bob Cole.

Cole died on Wednesday CBC announced Thursday afternoon. He was 90 years old. He was the voice of Hockey Night in Canada for nearly 50 years, appearing on television from 1973 until his retirement in 2019.

Along the way, there was a long list of memorable moments to mention. Other moments were made memorable by Cole's call, where an ordinary play would be elevated into something special through his classic delivery. Cole's signature style blends enthusiasm, energy and simplicity. He can do more to capture a moment simply by repeating a player's name than most announcers can do in a rehearsed monologue.

In memory of the legend, let's enjoy 10 of Cole's classic calls.

“It's Marchant…”

This classic 1997 game between the Oilers and Stars produced two special moments in a short period, with Cole “Oh my God” plea. Curtis Joseph's rip-off of Joe Nieuwendyk deserves an honorable mention. But it was the overtime winner that showed classic Cole, realizing that Todd Marchant had made the defenseman beat a split second before anyone else did and setting the next moment.

“It's Gilmore waiting, waiting… around the net… waiting….”

I promise I won't fill this entire piece with calls from the Maple Leafs' 1993 run, although I certainly could. Instead, let's highlight this double overtime winner that sees Cole realize the possibility of a seemingly innocent play, starting from the moment Maple Leaf Gardens explodes.

(But since we're on the subject of the 1993 Leafs, there's also… this And this And this.)

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“Have you ever seen such ingenuity?”

Mario Lemieux would sometimes do things we'd never seen before, like the time he intentionally lost the puck in Ray Burke's shoe as a distraction, only to immediately retrieve it and run past his fellow Hall of Famer. I could have watched this game dozens of times without fully appreciating what Mario was trying to do; Cole sees what is happening at this moment, which leads to the perfect conclusion to a silly play.

“One on one, McCarty…”

Quite possibly the greatest Cup-winning goal of the modern era came from Red Wings tough man Darren McCarty. It's fair to say that although McCarty had some skill, many of us didn't think he was capable of doing it. Maybe Cole wasn't, because the surprise in his voice elevates an already great call.

“They're going home!”

This controversial 1970s clash between the Broad Street Bully-era Flyers and the Soviet Red Army team may not be a great moment for hockey, but the broadcasters aren't just on duty for the best in the sport. Cole has seen it all in his long career, the good and the bad, and his call perfectly conveyed a moment we've never seen before.

“Everything happens!”

From the mid-1970s to a social media meme, fitting for a man whose career spanned generations. Sorry for the low quality of the clip, but you know this clip should be on the list. Cole's excitement could even make the target of a stampede imprint in our collective memory.

Detroit wins the game. Detroit wins the series

While most broadcasters still used a version of Foster Hewitt's immortal trademark of “He shoots, he scores,” Cole would often punctuate a big moment with “He scores!” Straight to the point! It worked, especially in dagger moments like Steve Yzerman's Game 7 bullet.

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Cole had the honor of calling Montreal's 1993 Stanley Cup win, which remains the last for a Canadian team. Although this series ended in just five games, it included one of the most dramatic turning points in playoff history. With the Kings already leading the series 1-0, they were moments away from closing out Game 2 and going home with a two-game lead when Marty McSorley's famous illegal penalty kick led to a Montreal power play that sent the game into overtime. This is where Eric Desjardins capped off what may be the greatest single playoff performance by a Canadian player in modern history, and Cole captured the energy of the forum perfectly.

“Look at Lemieux!”

Many of the longest-serving broadcasters in sports can project an air of boredom with seeing it all, largely because they probably do. But the best will still allow themselves to be overwhelmed by true greatness, and Cole manages to convey the wonder of watching Mario Lemieux work his magic while still making the call. Punctuating it with the classic “OH BABY” is just the icing on the cake.

“Sure, that must be the case!”

It's almost impossible for young or new hockey fans to understand how desperate Canada was to win the Olympics in 2002. The country hasn't won a gold medal in 50 years, lost the 1996 World Cup to the Americans, and fulfilled their dream in 1998. The team is embarrassed in Nagano. By 2002, the nation was starving for the validation that would come with beating Team USA in the final. Even with the late lead, the nation held its breath until the final moments, when Cole's goal through Jah U Sakic became the soundtrack to 50 years of pent-up frustration exploding across the country.

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Like Bob Cole's great call, there's not much left to say. Thank you, Bob, for making our game sing.

(Photo: Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press via AP)

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