He is Danny Gallivan, the English voice of hockey in Montreal for three decades. In that time he broadcasted close to 2000 games including 16 Montreal Stanley Cup championships. Known nationally for his creative additions to the hockey lexicon (heck, to the English language) such as cannonading shot and spinnerama, Gallivan became a national treasure on par with Foster Hewitt.
Baseball Was First Love
Gallivan, the son of a coal shipper, was a star baseball player as Sydney, NS, as a youth. He was even invited to the New York Giants training camp, but an arm injury would rob him of his Major League Baseball career.
Gallivan turned the world of broadcasting, but all but lucked into the Montreal job. Regular announcer Doug Smith fell ill one night. Gallivan stepped in, not knowing any of the opposing players. In fact, this was the first NHL game Gallivan had ever seen.
Two years later Smith moved permanently to cover football, Gallivan would see a lot more NHL games. He became Montreal's announcer from 1952 to 1984.
The Dead Mike
No profile of Gallivan is complete without mentioning the story of the dead mike.
Gallivan was set in his ways and did not warm to new technology. When headsets complete with microphones arrived Gallivan refused to use it as he favoured his trusty old friend, the microphone. Eventually Gallivan agreed to use the headset (although he often just turned down the volume so he didn't have to hear the producers talking to him) but he would hold a dead mike in his hand. On one night he was interviewing a guest with this unplugged microphone. No one ever heard what the guest had to say.
Hockey Night In Canada
Montreal was once the center of everything NHL, but headquarters were moved to New York while Toronto took over as the media capital. The powers that be at Hockey Night in Canada did not want Gallivan beyond Montreal games. English Canada wanted someone else, Hockey Night in Canada reasoned. This began a phasing out of sorts.
How wrong HNIC was. That was never more evident than in February 1993 when, at the age of 75, he passed away. The outpouring of affection from across the country was inspiring.
For many, including many of today's broadcasters, Danny Gallivan was the standard of excellence in sports broadcasting. We could not have been any luckier to have Gallivan as the example.