I expect it’ll take the Edmonton Oilers another week or 10 days to announce Rod Phillips is retiring after 37 seasons as the team’s radio voice, but I’ll dispatch with that here and now so those interested in the job can get a head-start on preparing their resumes and clips.
If you aren’t a big-hitter with an NHL resume, I’d suggest you get a jump on it because I won’t be surprised to see at least 100 applications for the seat being vacated by Phillips once the Oilers make it official and go looking for their next play-by-play man.
With Phillips, 68, whose passion behind the microphone landed him in the broadcast wing of the Hockey Hall of Fame, ready to spend his winters hacking a golf ball around Buckeye, Arizona outside Phoenix, it goes without saying there’s going to be a lot of interest in the job.
It’s an opportunity that’s bound to draw calls from virtually every microphone jockey in the WHL, OHL and QMJHL, as well as those toiling in the AHL and the lower minors.
Call 82 regular season games a year? Take a chartered jet instead of a bus to road games? Los Angeles or Anaheim or Tampa Bay or Miami in January instead of Saskatoon or Brandon, Syracuse or Rochester? The Ritz-Carlton instead of the Best Western? Where do I sign up?
You get the drift.
On the wireless
With only 30 radio play-by-play gigs in the NHL, it’s a sweet job, and one Phillips did with passion, aplomb and distinction. Having rode shotgun for Phillips as a beat writer with both Edmonton dailies for a decade, I can attest to that.
So, it’s going to take a special broadcaster to take over from him. Of course, there won’t be any shortage of people who think — some with good reason, others with none and most with a resume that falls in the middle — they’ve got what it takes to be the next guy.
I’ve long been a fan of great broadcasting, be it on the tube or radio . Years ago, long before it was possible to get clips to your heart’s content at websites like YouTube, I was eating the stuff up, recording every good clip and buying every over-priced "Great Moments in Broadcasting" CD set I could get my hands on.
I grew up listening to Howard Cosell calling Muhammad Ali’s fights, on the call of Secretariat romping to victory, to Jim Robson doing the call of Vancouver Canucks games on the radio in my mom’s room. The man could paint pictures with words.
The Canucks were brutal. Robson was brilliant. I damn near fainted the first time I found myself standing beside Robson doing an interview with Tony Tanti as a young reporter.
I know good radio when I hear it, and so do you — even if many of you reading this are a generation or two removed from me and have never heard of Jim Robson.
So, who has the chops to get the job?
When I called Oilers vice-president of communications and broadcast Allan Watt a few days ago, he wasn’t of the mind to tell me that Phillips had called his retirement shot.
Framed in that, I can only speculate the Oilers will open the job to outside applicants rather than keep competition in-house and hand it to Bob Stauffer, who has spent the past two seasons as the Skipper’s radio analyst and called a handful of games when Phillips took time off.
I liked what I heard from Stauffer in the games he did in Rod’s spot. I liked it a lot, particularly in tandem with Kevin Karius, whose full-time gig is on the sports desk with Global TV. I know people who disagree.
Yes, this is where I put in the disclaimer that Stauffer is my friend, but I’ll also tell you he’d still be my friend if I said he was lousy at doing play-by-play, so I’ve got no reason to make things up.
I’m guessing Stauffer will be on the short-list once the Oilers make things official, and he should be. The question is, how long will the short list be? There are some quality play-by-play guys out there.
Ever hear the call of Rod Pedersen, who works the mike for the Regina Pats of the WHL and the Saskatchewan Roughriders? Good Stuff. What about established names, guys with NHL resumes? They’ll be calling on Watt.
Who do you like? Who calls the kind of game that puts you in the middle of the action? Who gets your blood pumping? Who can fill the void left by Phillips?
Get those clips in, kids. This is your heads up.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.