Dean of OHL broadcasters reflects on Humboldt tragedy
Hundreds of mourners attended the funeral of play-by-play announcer Tyler Bieber in Humboldt, Sask. on Thursday.
He was only 29 but had already logged thousands of kilometres on the road in his role. The loss has hit close to home for another play-by-play announcer, Kingston’s Jim Gilchrist, the dean of broadcasters in the Ontario Hockey League.
For thirty-nine years Gilchrist has safely traveled the roads of Ontario. The horrific accident involving the Junior A Broncos hit the veteran broadcaster extremely hard.
“It really hit a nerve,” said the 65-year old native of Oshawa. “I think of all the miles I’ve travelled, and not once, were we close to getting into an accident.”
Gilchrist has no idea how many kilometres he’s logged over the years but says it has to be more than half a million.
“I can’t say enough about Rob Cook. He’s our current bus driver and we all consider him like an assistant coach,” added Gilchrist. “He’s got us safely through some nasty weather conditions.”
Now retired, the former sports announcer at CKWS radio in Kingston can’t help but think of the victim’s and survivor’s of that April 6 crash near Nipawin.
“My wife Jan was watching and really broke down when she learned that the first victim’s of that crash were the head coach and the broadcaster,” said Gilchrist, who now calls the game’s for MY-FM radio. “I can’t even imagine what the parents are going through. The hockey world is a big family. We need to mourn and remember those who died. But we also need to provide support and love to those who survived. Not just the players, but their families and friends as well.”
Gilchrist has amazingly called 2,704 OHL games with the Oshawa Generals and three Kingston teams, the Canadians, Raiders and Frontenacs, who have changed their moniker three times in the 45 year history of the franchise.
“Broadcasting has been in my blood for more than four decades,” added Gilchrist. “It would be nice to reach 3,000 games but that’s still a few years away. I have to admit that every time I step on that bus, my thoughts will be with the Humboldt Broncos.”
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