First they were turfed from the team charter and now Leafs radio broadcasters Joe Bowen and Jim Ralph have been banished from the road altogether.
Broadcast and NHL sources confirmed on Monday that the veteran announcers will call road games from a Toronto studio rather than press boxes at road arenas around the NHL. For one of the richest teams in all of professional sports – and a franchise owned by two broadcasting giants – it’s a move ridiculous as it is stunning.
For a clearly disappointed Bowen – the long time colourful voice of the Leafs – the development is an obvious gutting.
“Unfortunately this is true,” Bowen wrote on his official Twitter account. “We will try to recreate the excitement and do the best we can.”
The gutting of the two veteran radio men began when the team decided it no longer wanted broadcasters on the team charter flight. That meant that Bowen and Ralph as well as Leafs TV staff would need to arrange their own transportation.
In the case of Bowen and Ralph, it’s clear that Rogers and Bell – co-owners of the storied Original Six franchise – don’t want to foot that bill. Neither of the telecommunications giants are commenting on the development and it’s possible public outrage could lead to change, but don’t bet on it.
As for keeping charters to team personnel only, a source said it’s a shift in philosophy under new general manager Lou Lamoriello. The thinking is that the flight will be an extension of the dressing room and that “the team charter is for the team.”
Just how Bowen, one of the more energetic broadcasters in any sport, will recreate that excitement from a dark studio remains to be seen. But there’s no denying that Leafs fans are poorer for it.
Credit to The Toronto Sun who originally published this article