Tag Archives: Bill Hewitt

Dad, What The…?

My father was a Habs fan as far back as I can remember, but from reading his journal he once wrote about his childhood, it turns out he was a Leafs fan when he was a kid. He changed later on, and I wish he was alive so I could ask him about it.

All I know is, he used to complain about all things Leafs, including Foster and Bill Hewitt and of course Punch Imlach and Conn Smythe, and he’d go on about the sports section of the paper which was all Leafs, all the time, which, except for him, is understandable considering it was a Toronto paper.

But thankfully somewhere along the way, he became a Habs fan. If I had grown up a Leafs fan, I might have had to shoot myself.

Here’s a section of his journal:

“The Toronto Star used to come up on the train the day after it was published and as a rule, we could usually come up with the three cents it cost. We didn’t have a radio but I became a Toronto Maple Leafs fan through reading the sports pages of this paper. Almost every day of the hockey season, the sports section would carry a drawing of a player and these I would cut and paste in a scrapbook.

It was around 1932 when one of the Leaf players, Ace Bailey, was injured in a game against the Boston Bruins. While he was in hospital, I wrote him a letter and in due time received an answer from his wife along with an autographed picture of him. I dare say, I must have been the proudest kid in Trout Creek and I like to think I was the envy of all the other boys in town.”

 

 

When The All-Star Game Was A Serious Affair

The defending Stanley Cup champions used to line up against the best of the best of the league, and it was a serious event. The All-Stars were biting at the bit to beat the Cup champions, while it was a feather in the cap of the champs to best the all-stars.

This is much of the first two periods of 1963 All-Star game held in Toronto, and features Habs Jean Beliveau, Bernie Geoffrion, Henri Richard, and Claude Provost. Beliveau wears number 19, although it shows him standing at the blueline, prior to the opening faceoff, wearing number 4.

It’s quite something to see Beliveau, Gordie Howe, and Bobby Hull together as a line from time to time.

Foster’s Hewitt’s son Bill does the play-by-play.

Who Is The HNIC Voice Of All Time?

I came across what I think is an interesting poll, although it was done in 2005. But I think nothing’s changed from then to now. I also disagree slightly and have my own choices at the bottom.

The Best “Hockey Night In Canada” Play-By-Play Announcer Of All Time

Danny Gallivan 53 votes 36. 30%

Bob Cole 16 votes 10.96%

Jim Hughson 16 votes 10.96%

Jim Robson 15 votes 10.27%

Foster Hewitt 14 votes 9.59%

Dick Irvin 12 votes 8.22%

Chris Cuthbert 10 votes 6.85%

Dan Kelly 5 votes 3.42%

Bill Hewitt 4 votes 2.74%

Don Wittman 1 vote 0.68%

But if I were to choose:

Danny Gallivan – The best. Period.
Chris Cuthbert -Both he and Hughson are as professional as can be.
Jim Hughson
Bill Hewitt – Smooth voice and part of my youth. More polished than his dad.
Dan Kelly – Great, and died too soon
A younger Bob Cole – Before he started getting names wrong.
Foster Hewitt – Foster was the first and is very special to many people, but technically he wasn’t as sound as many of the others, including his son.
Dick Irvin – I love Dick Irvin but he wasn’t as slick as Cuthbert and Hughson and these guys. Made a better sidekick for Gallivan.
Don Wittman-  True pro with Winnipeg roots. Sadly is no longer with us.
Jim Robson – Canucks broadcaster for many years and loved greatly out here. But I don’t think he was as good as the rest.

Reporting Live From The Press Box, Just Over From Foster And Bill

Tom at the Ryan Coke Experience suggested I do this and I thought about it and decided it might be fun. He said I should watch games from the Montreal Canadiens Memorable Games 10 DVD set, and report on them like they were live and had just happened.

So, live, from the press box in 1960, the game.

LEAFS NO MATCH FOR CANADIENS AS  A RECORD 5th CUP IS WON

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It’s a hustling, bustling night for scalpers outside the cathedral on Carleton Street as hockey fans, sensing history could be made, scramble to find a ticket to get in the door. And it seems that price is no issue as reports have come in that some are paying upwards of forty bucks for a seat, even high up in the greys, where it seems you’re watching from outer space.

And why are fans so anxious to witness game four of the Habs-Leafs clash tonight at the Gardens? Because the juggernaut which is the Montreal Canadiens, with four consecutive Stanley Cups already notched, are poised to win another, and fans feel it’ll be tonight. So the air is thick with excitement and anticipation, mixed with the feeling of resignation. Leaf fans know a home-team win might be asking too much.

And no wonder. The Canadiens rolled over the Chicago Black Hawks four straight in a lightening-fast semi final, and have won the first three against the Leafs in this final. It seems that this is a team that isn’t going to be stopped anytime soon. And they’re doing it with the aging and less-than-healthy Maurice Richard, who many feel will retire after this campaign.

My seat in the press box is just to the right of the Gondola, and I can see the father and son team of Foster and Bill Hewitt, poring over their notes and adjusting their microphones. Bill is the play-by-play man now, with Foster only adding colour, and although I can’t hear what they’re saying, I still glance from time to time to see their reaction to the game below. Foster was good, Bill’s even better, but neither of them can compare to Danny Gallivan in Montreal. But there’s no doubt, Foster Hewitt has seen a lot of hockey in his day. And down below, 14,000 fans sit and eat popcorn and read the Canadiens lineup in their programs, and yes indeed, know what is probably coming.

If the first period is any indication, Lord Stanley’s mug will certainly be hoisted tonight. The Canadiens are playing like they can taste it, and at the 8:16 mark, big Jean Beliveau, who’s proved time and again that he’s the heir apparent to the great Rocket, scores on a long shot that Toronto goalie Johnny Bower probably didn’t see. If he saw it, he would have stopped it, I’m sure. And then, just 27 seconds later, Habs defenceman Doug Harvey finds the twine in similiar fashion, with a long shot that also evades Bower.

Doug Harvey is in a league by himself when it comes to blueliners. He controls the game, as he is tonight, making those perfect passes, blocking shots in front of goalie Jacques Plante, and thumping when thumping is called for. There’s no defenceman in the world right now like Harvey, and it makes you wonder if somewhere out there, in some small Canadian town, a young guy may be learning his trade and will take over the crown which Harvey holds now. It’ll be interesting to see if anyone can become as good as Harvey.

Leafs’ coach and taskmaster George “Punch” Imlach must have had a lot to say to his team during the first intermission, because the boys in blue have come out in the second with more enthusiasm, more drive, hitting the post, storming Plante, but to no avail, and now, late in the period, Henri Richard, on a nice set-up from big brother Maurice, puts Les Habitants up 3-0, and certainly the partisan crowd knows now that the team in white, a powerhouse full of future Hall-Of-Famers, will be winning their fifth Stanley Cup on this night.

It’s just a matter of getting the third period over with. Beliveau, who I’m predicting will some day be captain of this great team, scores at 1:21 to make it four-nothing, and I know that somewhere in the depths of Maple Leaf Gardens, the Stanley Cup is being hauled out of its case and readied to hand over to league president Clarence Campbell, who in turn will give it to his old nemesis, the Rocket. 

The bell finally rings to end this affair, and the Leafs’ faithful give both teams a rousing applause. The Leafs have a nice team, with players like Frank Mahovlich, Tim Horton, Red Kelly, and Bob Pulford, but they’re no match for Montreal. Not this year, and not the previous four. Montreal was never going to be denied. It was in the stars. Beliveau, Bernie Geoffrion, Marcel Bonin line, all were sensational. Rocket, Pocket, and all-star Dickie Moore were dangerous on many occasions. Plante was spectacular, so was Harvey. The journeymen – Don Marshall, Claude Provost, Albert Langlois, Bob Turner and the rest, did their jobs magnificently. And Toe Blake stood behind the bench, fedora tilted back, and played his lines masterfully, like a great chess player.

I make my way down to the dressing room with Red Fisher, who’s been covering the Habs for five years now, and it’s bedlam as champagne is poured, toasts are made, players laugh and cry and hug their wives and kids, and much of my Brylcreem just got washed away when Geoffrion decides to give me a champagne bath. I have my stories, although Plante wanted to talk more about the toque he’d just knitted which he believes gives him inner powers, but on the whole, players just said they were happy and were going to savour things for a few days before they escape to their various homes throughout the country for a few months of well-deserved rest.

In the end, I walk out to Carleton Street, where the wind is blowing and rain falling, and make my way to my car. Tonight, there is no Cold War, no Krushchev or Eisenhower, no atomic bombs being tested, and no Elvis Presley corrupting our daughters with his voice and hips. No, tonight, everything is good. Everything is great. Tonight, the Montreal Canadiens win the Stanley Cup.

Meet The Hewitts

You probably don’t see many families like this anymore, sitting around being nice and polite and dressed to the nines like the Foster Hewitt family. In this visit to the Hewitt home in 1956, son Bill, who became an excellent Leafs announcer in his own right, probably even better than his dad, looks like he needs a stiff drink. Maybe Foster was a real taskmaster at home. Or maybe he was just an excellent dad who taught his kids good manners.   

Along with son Bill we meet Foster’s wife Kay, his two daughters Wendy and Ann, and there’s an appearance by Foster’s father, W.A. Hewitt, who was a Maple Leaf Gardens employee for several decades, was secretary of the Ontario Hockey Association for 58 years, and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1947.

WA Hewitt passed away in 1966, Foster in 1985, and Bill in 1996.

And as legendary a broadcaster as Foster was, and as smooth a broadcaster as son Bill was, in my book, neither could compare to the great Danny Gallivan.

Meet the Hewitt’s. http://archives.cbc.ca/sports/hockey/clips/11092/

Watching Good Old Hockey Games. It’s Food For The Soul

 I just watched game three on the NHL Network of the 1962 Stanley Cup finals between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Toronto Maple Leafs ( the Hawks won 3-0 but the Leafs eventually won the series in six games).

I love watching the old stuff. In this game, a young Bobby Hull, wearing number 7 (he first wore number sixteen, then went to nine), skated like the wind and blasted away with that cannon he had. Goalies Glenn Hall and Johnny Bower weren’t wearing masks. Frank Mahovlich skated in big swooping strides. Reg Fleming and Tim Horton got in a scuffle, then went and sat side by side in the penalty box, which players did in those days, even after major scraps. And big, heavy bodychecks were the order of the day.

The game was at a jam-packed Chicago Stadium, and when Stan Mikita scored, fans tossed balloons and the odd fedora on the ice. Toronto announcer Bill Hewitt (Foster’s son) did the play-by-play, and in 1962, he was still a little rough around the edges. He got smoother in later years. And he worked alone, without a sidekick.

 Watching games like this is a joy for me. It reminds me of when I was a schoolboy, collecting hockey cards and hockey coins, and dreaming of someday playing in the NHL just like these guys.

 I wish they’d show more of these old games. And this is what should’ve been on during those long breaks between games in this year’s playoffs.

 Really old games are a beautiful thing. We need more of them.