My favourite moments in hockey history are usually punctuated by the play-by-play announcer calling the game. From Chris Cuthbert’s amazing call of the Golden Goal by Sidney Crosby at the Vancouver Olympics to Bob Cole’s legendary calls to the great Mike Lange and his arsenal of original catchphrases – there’s nothing better than watching a master of their craft at work. I felt that I was watching a younger master of his craft in Jack Michaels on Dec. 3 when watching the Edmonton Oilers and Montreal Canadiens on Sportsnet and Hockey Night in Canada (HNIC).
After watching Michaels broadcast Oilers games on Sportsnet and HNIC, and listening to him on 630 CHED in Edmonton for the past 11 years, I’d say he’s truly climbing up the ladder of great play-by-play voices. His recent “What can you say?” call of Connor McDavid single-handedly going through the entire New York Rangers team is one of the best moments of his early television career, and I get the sense that there’s a lot more where that came from.
Oilers Fans Should Enjoy This Moment in Their History
Oilers fans are so lucky to be able to watch and cheer for McDavid and Leon Draisaitl every game as they enter the prime years of their careers. I feel the same about Michaels. He brings such enthusiasm, energy, and pure joy to his broadcasts that he makes the experience of watching Oilers hockey that much better.
I hope all Oilers fans truly appreciate Michaels because he could leave the Oilers and take the mantle from Cuthbert as either the top dog for Hockey Night in Canada or national broadcasts on Sportsnet someday. And since Michaels is American-born, I’m sure he could choose to go down to the United States and work for TNT or ESPN should lucrative offers come his way in the future. I could see him being the next Doc Emerick if that’s the route that opens up for him in the future. However as an Oilers fan, I’m selfish and I don’t want to see him leave Edmonton. He’s helped soften the blow of losing Hall of Fame broadcaster Rod Phillips to retirement, and though I did like Kevin Quinn, the previous play-by-play announcer for the Oilers on Sportsnet, Michaels takes the excitement of watching the Oilers to another level for me.
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I’ve been fortunate to have followed the Oilers since they came into the NHL back in the 1979-80 season, as I was a fan of the late Tim Dancy’s early play-by-play work on television with ITV in Edmonton in the early 1980s. And I’ve always respected those who came after, from Bruce Buchanan and Al Nagy to Roger Millions and Dennis Beyak; but I feel that Michaels might be the most talented voice out of that group.
Great Broadcasters Often Associated with Great Moments
As this current version of the Oilers continue their long and sometimes frustrating climb to Stanley Cup glory, it’ll be interesting to witness future big moments with Michaels behind the mic. Hopefully this isn’t a pipe dream for Oilers fans and the last few seasons have been a prelude to something great.
Hearing Michaels call a Stanley Cup victory for the Oilers would certainly be one of the most memorable moments in his career, and for those of us who are along for the ride.
Another Oilers Broadcaster Who Deserves Respect
I would be remiss to write a piece about Oilers broadcasters and not mention the name Alan Mitchell aka “Lowetide” on Team 1260 in Edmonton. As many Oilers fans know, Lowetide hosts a midday show with Dave Jamieson on TSN 1260, and both Lowetide and Jamieson bring a refreshing and sometimes humorous approach to covering the Oilers. Lowetide is always a delight to listen to, and unfortunately he had to share some sad personal news recently with his readers and listeners that he lost his wife Jo-Anne to Acute Myeloid Leukemia in late November.
Lowetide, who also covers the Oilers for The Athletic, is a broadcaster with a real sense of the moment. I like listening to him because he feels like a fun Uncle who also happens to talk about the Oilers and great music. His loss also feels like a loss to listeners such as myself. On behalf of The Hockey Writers, we extend our deepest condolences to Lowetide and his family on the loss of his wife Jo-Anne.
D. Edward Bochon covers the Edmonton Oilers. His background is in marketing writing where he worked with the Edmonton Oilers, the Edmonton Football Club (now known as the Elks), and the Edmonton Rush of the NLL.