Markham resident, Joe Bowen is now a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, as the newest recipient of the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award for outstanding contributions as a broadcaster.
First presented in 1984, by the NHL Broadcasters’ Association, the award is named in honour of the late-Canadian ‘Voice of Hockey.’
“It’s extraordinarily humbling and very overwhelming,” said Bowen. “It means a lot to me because I grew up listening to Foster and sat in his chair.”
And sitting in that chair, Bowen has surpassed Hewitt in the number of games announced. Hewitt put in more years in the booth, but didn’t broadcast as often.
“When I came here, in 1982, I would have paid them to do the games,” said Bowen. “To have the length of tenure that I’ve had is pretty special.”
Bowen began his career calling hockey games for his hometown Sudbury Wolves. After a short stint with the American Hockey League, Nova Scotia Voyageurs, he began a 37-year run as the voice of the Toronto Maple Leafs, describing the action for more than 3,000 games and counting. He also received the George Gross Award as Sports Media Canada’s broadcaster of the year in 2013.
Bowen received his award at the NHL Media Awards luncheon, at Toronto, on Nov. 12. His award plaque will be displayed at the Hockey Hall of Fame alongside past recipients.
When he accepted the award, Bowen thanked everyone he has ever worked and shared the microphone with along with those who gave him the opportunity.
“Most of all, I thanked my four boys for putting up with me and being away as much as I have been and missing important dates in their lives when they were at home,” he said.
How does he describe his style behind the microphone?
“Enjoying the game and trying to inform everybody what the hell is going on,” he said. “I enjoy the games a lot and it’s something I enjoy. It’s the greatest job in the world, because you never really work a day in your life. The job part is the travel. You’re away from family and friends a lot but the games are way too much fun.”
When asked if there are any memories throughout his career that still make him laugh, Bowen said, “Oh gosh, every night. I work with some great people who have a great sense of humour. There’s not a night that goes by where we’re not chuckling about something or other.”
As well as doing play-by-play, Bowen is also a goaltender in the Unionville men’s hockey league.
“I’m still trying to make the NHL,” he said, with a laugh.
Dave Sandford/Hockey Hall of Fame photo