Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Few Deep Thoughts On Game 1,000

  • I never thought I would call 1,000 games in the Western Hockey League. I always thought that I'd spend a couple of years in the league before moving on to the pro level. Their goes that theory!
  • One of the most enjoyable aspects of my job over the 1,000 games is the relationships you build with the players. I love nothing more than seeing and chatting with Shea Weber, Josh Gorges and all Rockets alumni who I had the pleasure of watching - interviewing - and seeing develop before my vary eyes. These players, who are now earning more money than I can ever imagine, really haven't changed. They are young men still enjoying the game they loved as a kid.
  • I remember as a teenager listening to two gentlemen that sparked my interest in hockey play-by-play. A young Peter Loubardias was making some noise with the Regina Pats at the time, and my AM radio was able to pick up CKRM's signal solidly from my home in Swift Current. Loubardias is slightly older than I am, yet his jump to the WHL came in his early 20's. He had a flamboyant personality on the air, which was cutting edge at the time. He was fun to listen too, and still is today as the TV voice of Calgary Flames and CHL broadcasts on Sportsnet. I also remember listening to a steady Roger Millions call the games with the Saskatoon Blades. I remember Swift Current Indians announcer Carl Petarocia and Swift Current Broncos play-by-play man John Enns growing up, yet Loubardias and Millions left an impression.
  • As I've mentioned on my bio on this blog, my favorite broadcaster is former Winnipeg Jet/Phoenix Coyotes announcer Curt Keilback. I have never met the man, but his ability to make the game exciting and use his voice to bring drama to the game is ear catching. Here is a sample of his work:
  • When looking back at 1,000 games, the highlights would include a Eastern Conference final with Calgary in 1998, a series that saw a few games between the Swift Current Broncos and Calgary Hitmen played at the old Calgary Corral. I remember doing my first game in that building and thinking I had been transported back in time. The place was packed. It was standing room only - 3 deep! The series saw the Broncos build up a 3-1 lead, only to lose three straight including the game seven clincher 1-0. A young Todd McLellan was guiding the Broncos at the time. Now as the head coach with the San Jose Sharks, McLellan already has a Stanley Cup ring and possibly a NHL coach of the year honor in his back pocket.
  • The WHL championships (03-05) and Memorial Cup (04) are obviously highlights, but its the quality players that I've witnessed from the broadcast booth over the years that makes me feel privileged to be a fly on the wall. Who's the most dominant player I've witnessed during my time in the broadcast booth? Without a doubt it was Sergei Varlamov. In his rookies season with Swift Current he scored 46 goals, and then upped that total to 66 a year later. Sergei could literally take over games and could virtually do it all on his own. He was an amazing junior player.
  • Staying healthy for 1,000 games isn't possible. Sickness is bound to set in. I've had numerous colds, but have been able to battle through it. Fisherman's Friends is truly my best friend. I've puked in the broadcast booth in Everett (yes, I cleaned it up), had diarrhea, which required several trips to the washroom in Spokane, and have taken in so much water during a a broadcast that I almost soiled myself. I remember after one game in Prince Albert years ago, I took in so much water and couldn't take a break during the intermission, that after signing off the air I walked to the washroom literally in the crouched position, in an effort to keep things contained. Too much information? OK, I'll move on.
  • When you call 1,000 games, the radio partner (color analyst) you are with can bring a great deal of enjoyment to the experience. Everett Hindley was my first regular color analyst in Swift Current. We called four seasons of Broncos hockey together. Now he's Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall's right hand man in Regina. A.J Jakubec spent time with me in the broadcast booth when I made my stop in Kelowna in 2000. A.J has now gone on to bigger things as the radio caller for the Edmonton Oil Kings. Roger Snow was with me in the broadcast booth for five of the best years of junior hockey you can wish to experience. We experienced three Memorial Cup, with stops in Quebec City in 03, hosting the cup in Kelowna in 04, before traveling to London Ontario in 2005. Winning games and capturing championships over that three year span made our job easy. David Michaud's time in the booth, while short, was special. We spent so much time together on the road over two short seasons. Michaud loved to be around me...OK he loved to be around the Rockets, but we had a blast both on the air and away from the rink. It's great to have a color analyst that you have a friendship with away from the arena, and my belief is that was evident on the air. This season with 'rookie' Gord McGarva at my side, I've enjoyed watching him develop into a steady analyst while seeing the enjoyment he gets from preparing and being apart of the broadcast.
  • Bob Ridley (Medicine Hat), Craig West (Tri City) Rod Pederson (Regina), Bruce Lubke (Brandon) are also in the 1,000 games called club. Ridley is almost at 3,000. I'll be 70 to reach that mark!
  • Special thanks to Doyle Potenteau at the Kelowna Daily Courier for the nice piece he did on me in Saturday's paper. . Potenteau and I spend a great deal of time together on the road. He's a great roommate and a solid friend.
  • Thanks also to Jim Mullin and Bill Wilms for the 'shout out' on Friday's Shaw broadcast from Red Deer. I had a chance to see the video today.
  • In any occupation where travel is required, ones family takes the blunt of the blow. With a wife and two kids now in the mix, the thrill of hitting the road for ten days isn't as appealing as it once was. My twin boys were born in February 2003, yet that playoff season saw the Rockets win a WHL title and a trip to the Memorial Cup in Quebec City. To spend 12 days at the other end of the country calling hockey games while my wife was juggling 3 month old premature babies was a tall task for her. I still feel guilty to this day, yet the women I married is a strong as they come, and her support over the years for a career I continue to enjoy 13 seasons later is a sign of how wonderful a person she truly is. I've made mistakes on the air, but I didn't screw up when I married her 15 years ago.
  • If I could be granted one wish as I call my 1,000th WHL game tonight, what would that be? My wish would to have my Mom (Lil ) listening at the other end of the radio. She was always my biggest supporter and thought I could do no wrong. Oh, I made mistakes - trust me - and still do, yet she was always an encourager and a loyal listener. Maybe, just maybe, tonight's game is being broadcast into her Walkman in heaven? Reality tells me otherwise, but why not dare to dream? I often had dreams of one day calling play-by-play hockey games on the radio, and now look where I am!


hocus_lopez said...

Congrats Regan. Whether in the minors or the pros that's a huge accomplishment. IMO, you call a fair and unbaised game. Here's to the next 1000.

Jared Comeau said...

Great game for number 1000 eh Regan? HAHA Good game!!!

Regan Bartel said...

Rock solid Jared. Rock solid.

3stuges said...

Couldn't have been more fitting game for you to call Regan........having listened to Jim Robson as a kid following the 'Nucks, have to say you also have that ability to give the listener that feeling of being at the game. As much as I would miss your call of the Rockets, hope you get your chance for the next level.


Jared Comeau said...

I couldn't help but have goosebumps listening to the excitment in your voice with the last 5 seconds ticking down...I would NOT object to hearing a sound bite on your blog in that next couple days hehe!

george said...

wow............I wish that game would of been played here. Are we 1 point behind now