Sudbury·Up North

Sudbury's Joe Bowen, the voice of the Leafs, shares his start in northern Ontario

Toronto Maple Leafs broadcaster speaks to CBC's 'Up North.'

Bowen was recently honoured for calling his 3,000th game behind the mic for the Toronto Maple Leafs

Sudbury's Joe Bowen has called more than 180,000 minutes of Maple Leafs hockey over 35 years. (Michael Charles Cole/CBC)

Joe Bowen is an intimately familiar name, not only to people who follow the Toronto Maple Leafs, but to hockey fans in Canada.

His 35 years behind the mic for Leafs games — including many signature 'Holy Mackinaw!' calls — were honoured recently as the Sudbury-born broadcasting legend called his 3,000th game for the blue-and-white, a 3–2 Leafs win Tuesday over the Detroit Red Wings.

"My dream was to replace Johnny Bower in the Toronto net," Bowen told CBC's northern Ontario afternoon show, Up North, when asked how he started down the path to a place behind the mic.

"A distinct lack of ability and recognition of that fairly early on spurred me into wanting to stay in sports and I thought that I could do that."

The break that got Bowen into the broadcast booth came in his hometown of Sudbury, as he said he was offered a job right out of university with CKSO — a privately-owned broadcaster in the Nickel City — in promotions.

When the then-broadcaster of the Sudbury Wolves moved on to a job with CBC, Bowen said he got the junior hockey gig.

He started calling games for the Leafs in 1982.

"I'm so very grateful and appreciative of everybody taking time out of their busy schedules to recognize this," he said.

"It was topped off ... by the team holding on to a 3–2 lead and making it a win."

Click here to listen to Up North host Jason Turnbull's conversation with Joe Bowen.

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