Fans of the Edmonton Oilers have enjoyed a long run of excellence in the radio broadcast booth. Since 1973, there have been three main play-by-play announcers: Hockey Hall of Fame Inductee Rod Phillips (1973 to 2011), Jack Michaels (2011 to present day) and Cam Moon, who started in the 2020-21 season and shares the play-by-play duties with Michaels. Announcers can make or break how we experience a game. Fans have been known to turn the volume down on their televisions and crank up their radios depending on who is calling the game.
The Oilers’ 2021-22 Television Team
This season Sportsnet will broadcast all 82 Oilers contests, including 60 regional games on Sportsnet West. The regional broadcasts will feature Jack Michaels handling play-by-play duties with Louie DeBrusk providing analysis and Gene Principe covering hosting and reporting duties.
Last season marked Jack Michaels’ television debut doing play-by-play on Sportsnet after the network decided to move on from Kevin Quinn and his signature “Overtime Winner!” call. Few questioned Michaels’ ability to make a successful transition from radio to television but those who did quickly learned that he brought infectious energy and enthusiasm to every broadcast. What he brings to the booth is reminiscent of some of the greats like Pat Foley in Chicago and NBC’s Doc Emrick, who retired last season after 47 years.
Micheals’ colour commentator DeBrusk, who also does national games on Hockey Night in Canada, has evolved into a strong, reliable analyst over the years. Meanwhile, Principe can make us smile with some of his pre-game intros, and he is a reliable moderator for between-period interviews and round table discussions.
Over the years, the Oilers’ television voices have also included: Tim Dancy, Bruce Buchanan, Al Nagy and Dennis Beyak. Dancy and Buchanan both left their mark, and unfortunately, Nagy and Beyak’s time in the booth was short-lived. However, Beyak has done very well for himself since leaving Edmonton and is now the voice of the Winnipeg Jets on TSN.
The Oilers Radio Team for 2021-22
Michaels and Moon will share the broadcasting duties this season on 630 CHED. Micheals had big shoes to fill replacing Hall of Fame Broadcaster Phillips, while Moon did a good job working the radio booth last season.
The colour man, Bob Stauffer, brings a lot of passion to the radio booth and encyclopedic knowledge of players and stats. He is one of the most connected announcers in the Edmonton market, and his daily Oilers Now show is counted on for breaking news. Game host Reid Wilkins and analyst Rob Brown will return this season. Wilkins brings a folksy charm to the studio, while Brown is a breath of fresh air for listeners as he gets to the point quickly and often tells it like it is. Brown knows what he’s talking about and is a good storyteller who often reflects on his time in the NHL, including playing on a line with Pittsburgh Penguins great Mario Lemieux.
TNT and ESPN Bring in Big Names for US Broadcasts
The NHL’s new broadcasting contracts with TNT and ESPN will begin the season with star power behind the mic. Wayne Gretzky made news in the off-season by signing on with TNT, while ESPN brings Mark Messier, former TSN analyst Ray Ferraro and Sportsnet’s Cassie Campbell-Pascal into the fold.
The NHL is hoping to make greater inroads in the US, and having stars like Gretzky and Messier on national broadcasts should help increase the league’s appeal and reach.
NHL Broadcasting Legends Retiring this Season
Some fan favourites have either retired this year or will be retiring soon. Rick Jeanneret, the legendary Sabres play-by-play man, will be retiring after this season, while Mike Lange just retired from covering the Penguins for 46 years. Both gentlemen will be missed because of their flair and passion for their craft. Jeanneret is famous for his “May Day! May Day! May Day!” call after Brad May scored in OT to beat the Boston Bruins and Lange’s “He beat him like a rented mule!” and “Scratch my back with a hacksaw” calls are the stuff of legend.
The hockey world needs more like Jeanneret and Lange. Many who grew up in the era of Bill Hewitt, Danny Gallivan, Bob Cole, Rod Phillips and Peter Maher miss their presence, their knowledge and understanding of the game, which was unparalleled, including the respect they had for their audience.
Best wishes to TSN 1260’s Dave Jamieson, who is on leave from his daily radio show at the Edmonton sports station. Dave is recovering after cancer surgery in late July, and we want to wish him a full and speedy recovery. Dave is one of the best media people, not to mention one of the nicest people in the business.
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.