Rod Phillips told me a long time ago that he’ll keep doing what he does as The Voice of the Edmonton Oilers on 630 CHED radio for as long as he’s having fun.
Well, with today’s announcement Total Sports drive show host Bob Stauffer has been hired from TEAM 1260 to take over from Morley Scott as the analyst on Oilers radio broadcasts, The Skipper might well have more than one season left in him.
Phillips, who celebrates his 67th birthday in September, told OilersNation earlier this week he’ll be back for 2008–09, his 36th campaign manning the microphone on Oilers broadcasts.
Beyond that, Phillips has said he’ll take it as it comes, based largely on fun factor and enjoyment. And why not? Having seen five Stanley Cup parades during his tenure and having been inducted into the broadcasters wing of the HHOF in 2003, Phillips has done it all.
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Then again, if an infusion of energy, knowledge and passion for the game means anything—with Phillips, passion for all things Oil is his trademark—the addition of Stauffer could keep The Skipper ticking along another two or three years. That’s a good thing.

It’s a match

Knowing them both, I can say without hesitation that Phillips and Stauffer will make a dynamite team. It’ll take some time, of course, because both are strong personalities, have distinctly different styles and have their own way of doing things. That’s to be expected.
But there’s definitely a fit here and the potential for this to be a terrific tandem for as long as The Skipper puts off kicking up his heels in the retirement joint he’s having built on a golf course in Buckeye, Arizona, just outside Phoenix.
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While Stauffer has been portrayed in the past as bombastic and over the top in criticism of the Oilers—at times there was some truth to that—his take on any given situation comes from a solid base of understanding the game in concert with reliable sources. In simple terms, Stauffer developed “cred” within the dressing room when it came to the majority of players and management because, more often than not, he had a point.
Obviously, Stauffer’s mandate changes now that he’ll have an Oilers logo on his paycheque. His insistence on debating his philosophical differences with coach Craig MacTavish—a dead horse if ever there was one—will now be a thing of the past.
But, while that argument won’t crop up on CHED’s pre-game show, I suspect it will continue behind closed doors. Stauffer loves to talk hockey, and he’s got more of a clue than your average microphone jockey. MacT, I’m sure, will happily take him on. He’s up for a good debate, as well.
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The negative, of course, is the broadcast scene is losing one of its strongest voices. Thou shalt not bite the hand that feeds. It’ll be interesting to see who steps in to fill that void, but that’s a story for another day.
As for Phillips, I have a feeling Bob will grow on him. He had better, because the Skipper isn’t about to change for anybody at this point in his career, and why should he?

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

What I can say—I might be telling stories out of school—is that Stauffer has the utmost respect for Phillips. While he could one day take over as the play-by-play man when The Skipper heads for Arizona, he’s in no hurry to see him step aside. I can attest personally both these guys, their public personas aside, have hearts of gold.
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While I’ve yet to ask Rod what he thinks of Stauffer, I do know that Rod has lots of time and respect for people in the business who put in the work and know their stuff. On that front alone, Rod and Bob will get off on the right foot.
To ensure things stay on the straight and narrow, and knowing both as I do, I humbly offer the following tips for a long and happy partnership.

For Bob

  • Rod picks the restaurants on the road. No matter when you arrive in town or how much work you have to do, be ready to meet in the hotel lobby at 7pm sharp.
  • Rod eats his lunch in his room on game days, so don’t expect him to deviate from that. Invite him out for a clubhouse on game day and he’ll look at you like you’ve got snot hanging out of your nose.
  • Accept the math when the dinner cheque is being divvied up. Even if you only ordered a $15 burger and fries and drank water without even sniffing one of those bottles of Merlot, a dinner bill for $200 divided four ways means $50 each.
  • Never, EVER, even suggest there’s a problem with the airplane. Even on the smoothest landing or take-off, Rod will hyper-ventilate and break into cold sweats. If you sit beside him, he will at some point appear to expire, but don’t worry. Simply offer an “It’s OK, we’re out of here,” or “Booyah, that was a piece of cake” when the tires hit or leave the tarmac.
  • Nod in the affirmative.

For Rod

  • Carry on, pal. He’ll get the hang of it. It’s all good.
—Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 5pm on Total Sports with Bob Stauffer on Team 1260.