Bob Cole, Voice of ‘Hockey Night in Canada’ for Nearly 50 Years, Dies at 90

Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Iconic Canadian hockey broadcaster Bob Cole died Wednesday night, his family told the CBC. He was 90.

Cole served as the play-by-play voice for Hockey Night in Canada games for nearly 50 years, from 1973 to 2019. He called his first NHL game for CBC Radio in 1969 and became the lead play-by-play voice for the CBC’s television coverage of Hockey Night in Canada in ’73.

Cole was the voice Canadians heard for many of the most memorable moments in NHL history, including Wayne Gretzky’s final career game, Steve Yzerman’s game-winning double-overtime goal for the Detroit Red Wings in Game 7 of a 1996 playoff series against the St. Louis Blues, and countless Stanley Cup and Olympic games. He was known for the “Oh, baby!” catchphrase he used after particularly impressive plays.

Cole called his final game on April 6, 2019, a game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens. His retirement inspired an outpouring of support from many NHL players.

“A living legend,” Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos told the Canadian Press at the time. “I’ve had a great relationship with him over the years. His voice is iconic. It’s all I associated with watching hockey growing up. Bittersweet for sure, but a great man. He has a close spot in a lot of Canadians’ hearts over the years.”

Dan Gartland


Dan Gartland is the writer and editor of Sports Illustrated’s flagship daily newsletter, SI:AM, covering everything an educated sports fan needs to know. Previously published on Deadspin and Slate, Dan also is a former Sports Jeopardy! champion (Season 1, Episode 5).