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Hockey Night in Canada 60th Season - Celebrating 60 years of hockey

Hockey Night Memories

Hockey Night Memories

Posted Jan 17, 2013

The thing about being a Canadian kid of my generation and Hockey Night in Canada is that the two things went hand in hand. You might go so far as to say you couldn't have one without the other.

From the time I watched the ghostly figures skate by on my grandfather's RCA Victor black and white TV set, I wanted to be in the picture.

My grandpa used to despise the Montreal Canadiens and called their captain "John" Beliveau. He truly believed that play-by-play man Danny Gallivan was secretly a spy for the Habs because he got so much more excited when they scored and sounded muted when his beloved Detroit Red Wings put the puck in the net.

"A Savardian Spinorama!!!!!"

My grandpa hated that one.

Hockey Night in Canada was, without question, the national drama played out each and every winter Saturday night.

I always loved watching the game but the job I wanted on HNIC was Ward Cornell's or Jack Dennett's or Frank Selke Jr's. They were the ones who got to interview the players.

I remember being amazed that Dave Keon or Bobby Orr would show up with their skates on and sit in the studio for a "live" interview between periods. I somehow believed that the players understood it was important to speak directly to us fans.

When I first worked consistently for Hockey Night in Canada in the late 1980's it was at the Montreal Forum. Remembering those nights watching with my grandfather, I recall being wary of even entering the building.

But here's one for you.

Two of the first people I met on my initial visit to the Forum were Jean Beliveau and Danny Gallivan. It struck me how gracious they were, not sinister at all. And I can tell you this, each time I encountered them after that Beliveau and Gallivan always remembered my name.

They were the essence of grace and gentlemanly conduct. Those two icons of Hockey Night in Canada, one on the ice, one at the microphone, quickly captured a lifelong Leaf fans' heart and made room for the Canadiens at the centre of my affections.

And oh yes.

One of the first games I had the privilege to host from the Forum involved a first period intermission interview with the then captain of the Canadiens, Bob Gainey.

In he walked to our little studio. He wore his skates and his sweater. He was sweating profusely from having just come off the ice.

The red light went on and I said, "Welcome back to Hockey Night in Canada. We're pleased to be joined by Canadiens captain Bob Gainey."

"It's great to be here Scott," Gainey replied.

I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

Truth be told I was on Hockey Night in Canada which was a kid of my generation's dream come true.

By: Scott Russell