Thursday, September 3, 2015

Winds of change in broadcast booth

   In the summer of 2008, I was looking for a colour analyst to join me on our hockey broadcasts on AM 1150. As fate would have it, a school teacher, who
Goofing around before taping our opening segment on videotron
spent a good portion of the winter as an off-ice official in the penalty box at Kelowna Rockets home games, would send a resume expressing interest in joining me in the broadcast booth.That gentleman was Gord McGarva.
    I didn't exactly know what I was getting when I invited McGarva for a 'try out' during a pre-season game that fall. I wanted to see if he had any ability to form a sentence and relay what he saw on the ice to the listening public. Sounds easy right? Just try it. Even the most well-spoken individual struggles.
    On that fateful night, McGarva was neither good nor bad. He had potential though and was eager to learn. That in itself was enough to convince me that McGarva was the right man for the job heading into the 2008-2009 season.
    Call him good luck. In his first year, McGarva had the luxury of seeing the team go all the way to the Western Hockey League final where they would beat the heavily-favoured Calgary Hitmen in six games. To top it off, despite his day job, he managed to join me in the broadcast booth in Rimouski, Quebec for the 2009 Memorial Cup. McGarva was that faithful.
    Gord rarely missed a game over seven seasons. Whether ill or just not into broadcasting a game on a week night after a long day as a full time high school teacher, McGarva showed up, didn't complain and always did his best to put on a good product for those listening at the other end of the radio. He travelled with me on the Rockets bus or in a station vehicle to many road games, which even included a playoff stop in Prince George, a place McGarva often vowed he would never visit.
    While our friendship has blossomed over the last seven years, two things remained a constant: McGarva has been faithful as a colleague and his love for the Kelowna Rockets, specifically as a fan of the coaches and players, has never waned. He was a homer and I expected nothing less. McGarva was part of the Kelowna Rockets broadcast and always  wanted the 'good guys' to win every time they hit the ice.
Like Superman's angst for Kryptonite, McGarva would often express his dislike for WHL officiating. In saying that, he had friendly banter with the officials before the game when they would make a brief appearance in the media area for a quick cup of coffee. McGarva knew many of the officials on a first name basis.
Always anticipating a home win. Rockets delivering.
    Despite seven great seasons, change is inevitable however. 'Gordie', as I called him on the air in celebration after the Rockets overtime win to capture the WHL title in 2009, won't be joining me for the start of the 2015-2016 season. While he will be stepping aside as my regular analyst, McGarva will occasionally make a guest appearance if needed. Now it is time to look for the next 'Gord McGarva'. While the voice will be different, I will look for many of the same qualities that McGarva exhibited in a good colour analyst.
    I want to publicly thank 'Gordie' for all he has done for me personally over the years. We had fun on the road. We laughed (sometimes too much) and celebrated many victories including those two league titles in 2009 and again in 2015. That is a pretty good run over that seven year span. Simply, McGarva added immensely to our AM 1150 broadcasts and never subtracted from it.

    Thank you, Gord, for making the Kelowna Rockets and me sound better on the radio. It's been a pleasure working with you, my friend!

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