Canadian Sports Personalities – Best and Worst


I read an article on another blog on the best Canadian non-hockey sports announcers. There were also specific articles on the hockey people and the anchor desk people. I thought I’d put together my own list of Canadian sports announcers, writers and broadcasters, good and bad. These are in no particular order.

Best

  • Bob McCown — simply the best. Host of Prime Time Sports on the FAN 590, one of my favourite podcasts and according to Bob, “the country’s most listened-to sports talk presentation”. Says what he thinks, doesn’t care if he offends anyone, doesn’t (usually) pull punches during interviews, knows his stuff inside and out, and he’s funny too.
  • Stephen Brunt — he writes for the Globe and Mail, which I don’t read, so I only know him from his appearances on Prime Time Sports, but he’s very knowledgable. And he’s from Hamilton.
  • Jim Kelley — writes for sportsnet.ca, and also appears on Prime Time Sports. He’s in the Hockey Hall of Fame as a writer, and for good reason. He knows more than just hockey though. He, Brunt, and McCown make PTS the best sports show there is.
  • Dan Shulman — Used to do play-by-play for the Blue Jays. Smart guy, and just an all-around great broadcaster. So good, ESPN grabbed him and hasn’t let go.
  • Rob Faulds — I didn’t like him much when I first heard him on Jays telecasts, but he used to host Prime Time Sports when McCown was away, and I grew to respect him. Listening to him on the radio doesn’t feel like listening to the radio, it feels like talking sports over a couple of beers with your buddy.
  • Jennifer Hedger — smart, knows her stuff, and easy on the eyes. Married to Sean McCormick (see the worst list below), but nobody’s perfect.
  • Eliot Friedman — another former guest host on Prime Time Sports, but haven’t heard him for a while. Works on HNIC, though I think he’s underused there.
  • Tom Cheek and Jerry Howarth — Cheek called every single Blue Jays game, including pre- and post-season, from their first day in 1977 until 2004, a streak of over 4,300 consecutive games. I grew up listening to him and Jerry calling Jays games on the radio.
  • Don Chevrier and Buck Martinez — called Jays games on TV in the 80’s and 90’s. Buck went on to manage the Jays, and I was disappointed when he didn’t return to the broadcast booth afterwards.
  • Jay Onrait — host of SportsCentre on TSN. Not particularly insightful, since he’s just reporting the sports news, but he’s pretty funny. The last couple of years, he’s done a real-time blog on trade deadline day which was very funny.

Worst

  • Mike Toth — I used to really hate this guy, but he’s growing on me. Now I only hate him a little bit. He hosts Prime Time Sports when Bob McCown is away, and he’s OK, but I prefer when Rob Faulds used to guest-host.
  • Sean McCormick — they call him The Dude. Or perhaps he calls himself that. Just seems a little too full of himself.
  • Michael Landsberg — speaking of full of himself…
  • Warren Sawkiw — did Jays broadcasts for a year after Tom Cheek passed away, then they fired him. Haven’t seen him since. Didn’t seem to add much to the broadcast, and had too much of a “golly gee whiz, I’m in the big league!” air about him.
  • Don Cherry — very entertaining and I enjoy watching Coach’s Corner because of him, but what an idiot. Thinks that any hockey game without a fight is a waste of time. Thinks that wearing helmets and visors to protect your head and face makes you a pussy. Hey Don, the truth is that it just makes you smart.
  • Nick Kypreos — thinks along Don Cherry’s lines. He was a goon when he played, and thinks that players who don’t know one end of the stick from the other but are great fighters make a valuable contribution. News flash Nick — the ’94 Rangers would have won the Cup even without you. He’s so pro-player anti-owners it’s not funny, which was particularly annoying during the lockout.
  • Fergie Olver and Tony Kubek — both worked for the Jays in the ’80s. To be honest, I don’t remember what it was I didn’t like about these guys, I just remember that when watching a game on TV where these guys were broadcasting, I’d turn the sound down on the TV and turn the radio on. I do remember that Fergie also hosted a kids game show called Just Like Mom where kids and their moms competed as a team against other kids and their moms. Fergie’s wife was the co-host.

A bit of both

  • Pierre McGuire — Most of the time, he’s fine, though he talks really quickly. (I do too, but I’m not a professional broadcaster.) He knows the fine points of hockey very well. However, when he gets excited about something, he talks a mile a minute and STARTS TO YELL. Then I can’t listen to him anymore.
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