For old-schoolers like me, there’s plenty to be said about the sometimes overlooked concept of working hard and paying your dues when it comes to landing that big job you really want. A dash of passion for your calling doesn’t hurt, either.
It’s good, then, to see Corey Graham named as the new play-by-play man of the Edmonton Oil Kings, a gig Graham really wanted and the kind he’s had his eye on for the past five or six years as he worked his way through the ranks at TEAM 1260.
I don’t know if Graham’s play-by-play skills are the best of the applicants the Oil Kings received, but it really doesn’t matter as long as he’s in the ballpark as far as getting it right when the microphone light is on. With the right work ethic, any polish that might be needed will come.
I’m guessing Graham picked up on that during the years he has spent working on Total Sports and Oilers Lunch with Bob Stauffer, who sets the bar as high as it gets in terms of putting in the work and being prepared.
Aside from doing Sports Night Live with co-host Will Fraser, and hosting Oil Kings broadcasts, Graham’s been the play-by-play man for the Alberta Golden Bears hockey and football teams.
All in all, Graham has put together an impressive resume for a 20-Something kid who graduated from NAIT all of six years ago, in 2004. Now, he’ll step up a level and ride the bus with the Oil Kings.
Pumped is Graham.
Ready to roll
"It’s something I wanted to do," said Graham, who got the call from boss and brand director Ross MacLeod while on vacation in the U.S., in Green Bay of all places, this week.
"I was standing in the parking lot of Lambeau Field when he called me,’ Graham told Fraser Thursday night. "I guess I’m never going to forget I got my first full-time play-by-play job standing at Lambeau Field.
"I grew up watching the Victoria Cougars back in the day when I was a kid. They had really, really bad teams out there back then. I mean, it’s always kind of been a dream for me to eventually get to that level."
Getting "to that level" meant cutting his teeth working for Stauffer, and that meant, among other things, putting up with me giving him shit when he’d phone me on the road when I was travelling with the Oilers.
Graham, who’d phone to set up hits with me on Stauffer’s show, had an uncanny knack of waking me up in the middle of my afternoon nap. Season after season, I’d just get to sawing if off after yet another day of, ahem, slaving over a keyboard, and the phone would ring: "Hi, Robin. It’s Corey Graham . . ." "F**k you. Don’t f*&king phone and wake me up you $%#*$T%# knucklehead" . . . "So, can you come on in five minutes?" . . . "Sure." The kid had moxy. Now, he’s got his gig.
Who knows? Five or six seasons from now, when he’s got 400-500 more games on his resume and had the chance to knock off any rough edges, maybe there’s another step to be made. We’ll see.
I thought the Oilers might have finalized a decision on who’ll replace Rod Phillips as play-by-play man by Friday, but that’s not going to happen. Team president Patrick LaForge said today three candidates remain in the running and my understanding is the call on who gets the job hasn’t been made.
We’ve had some names speculated on by media types and bloggers — Regan Bartel of the Kelowna Rockets, Dennis Beyak out of Toronto and Steve Kouleas from The Score, to name three. I’ve talked to two of the candidates, including one of two guys in the final five who haven’t been named, but I don’t know who the final three are.
It’s likely to take until at least Monday for the people doing the hiring to pick their man. Then, there’s the matter of working out a deal the Oilers and the new guy can live with.
My best guess is we’re looking at the middle of next week before any announcement is made.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.