Iconic hockey announcer Bob Cole says you have to 'feel the game' in new book

An iconic hockey announcer who has been calling games for almost 50 years says a job that you love isn’t like a job at all, and he’s got no plans to leave the air anytime soon.

'The game is the thing, not the knowledge that I might have’

Governor General David Johnston invests Robert Cole, from St.John's, Nfld. as a Member of the Order of Canada during a ceremony at Rideau Hall Friday September 23, 2016 in Ottawa. Cole has co-written a new book about his nearly 50 years of sports broadcasting. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

An iconic hockey announcer who has been calling games for almost 50 years says a job that you love isn't like a job at all, and he's got no plans to leave the air anytime soon.

Bob Cole began his career as a sports broadcaster in 1969, but "it is not like a job," he told The Homestretch Wednesday.

"If you are working at something and you find it arduous, you don't like your job, so it is very tough for you to put your best into it all of the same, I believe."

Cole's book Now I'm Catching On: My Life On and Off the Air, co-written with Stephen Brunt, was released last month.

The 83-year-old rejects a label that some believe he has earned.

"I don't look at myself as the voice of hockey," Cole said.

"There are many voices of hockey now, and I suppose that's a good thing. Maybe not so good for me. I don't do as many games as I would love to do. They do their best to get me in where they can," he said.

The cover of veteran broadcaster Bob Cole's autobiography, Now I'm Catching On, is shown in a handout photo. (The Canadian Press)

"I've got some great games coming up after Christmas. It is all part of my life for so long now that I hope it stays with me for some time to come."

Game time prep

Cole said he has his own way of getting ready to call a game.

"I make sure I have the two team lineups with me. They are in my bag, and once in a while I will go over things, make sure I stay on top of everything," he explained.

"When they say the puck is going to drop, you better make sure you are ready, because when the moment comes, and they say, '10 seconds,' and count you down and go, you have to be ready — or I don't know what will happen — and then cross your fingers and hope everything works."

He says it's about connecting the fans with the excitement of the game at hand.

"Foster Hewitt taught me this years ago. He said, 'You have to feel the game,'" Cole explained.

"If your friends tell you what a great exciting game it was, and they don't talk about you but what a great exciting game it was, now you have come to your job. Now you have made it," he said.

"I want the fans to enjoy the game. The game is the thing, not the knowledge that I might have about this player, or that goalie, or this coach."

As for retirement from the sport, it's not currently on Cole's radar.

"I have no idea," he said.

"I am looking forward to Saturday. How are the Canadiens? Who is hurt? Who is not hurt? I am quietly getting ready without even thinking about it, and that is the way it is. It just takes me over. I love that."

With files from The Homestretch