By Giancarlo Aulino
Joe is widely regarded by fans as being The Voice of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ - having called over 3000 Leafs’ games over his legendary 35+ year career. In June 2018, the Hockey Hall of Fame announced that Joe will be this year’s recipient of the Foster Hewitt Award for his contributions to the sport as a broadcaster. During the National Hockey League (NHL) season, Joe can be heard announcing Leafs’ games on Sportsnet Fan-590 and TSN 1050.
In this episode of Beyond The Game, VIBE Correspondent Giancarlo Aulino interviews Joe Bowen – longtime Toronto Maple Leafs’ play-by-play announcer. During the interview, Joe talked about the Maple Leafs’ game-7 defeat to the Boston Bruins, whether he believes the Maple Leafs’ will name a captain for the 2018-19 season, the pressures of being the captain in Toronto, Auston Matthews and some of his most memorable moments from announcing Maple Leafs’ games.
Giancarlo: The Toronto Maple Leafs’ and Boston Bruins played in their second Game 7 in the last five years. What went wrong for the Leafs’ this time around?
Joe: Well a number of things. Obviously in the game, things that didn’t go well were the goaltending wasn’t as good as it had been… I didn’t think Frederick Anderson had a strong game particularly in the third period. A lot of turnovers and opportunities that really weren’t attention to detail wasn’t there, but I think, the other aspect was that the Leafs didn’t play well in the first two games and Boston had played hard all the way down the stretch with a busy schedule—a really tough schedule actually—trying to catch Tampa and they were ready…the Leafs really didn’t because they had been somewhat home and cooled out I think for almost a month. They played well in those games, but a lot of them were against teams that weren’t in the post-season and so maybe the intensity level wasn’t as high as it needed to be in the Leafs found out certainly after Game-1 that it had to be better, they played a little bit better in Game-2 but still didn’t win, and then really were up against it for the rest of the series.
Giancarlo: Yeah, as you brought up there, both teams had their fair share of ups-and-downs. In terms of salary cap though, the Leafs were structured quite well. Patrick Marleau came in July, guys like JVR, Bozak, and Leo Komarov in the finals years of their deal, so it was like having that trade deadline acquisition for the entire season as opposed to just a couple months. With that in mind, do you feel that this playoff run was maybe a missed opportunity for the Leafs?
Joe: Well, when you’re in and you have a chance and you’ve played as well as they have, it’s obviously a missed opportunity. You really don’t know how many you’re going to get. It’s not like you can just say: “Oh well, the window here is another five or six years, so within there that’ll happen.” Lots of times bad breaks, hot teams, hot goalies, so when you do get an opportunity to get in the post-season and you had a record number of points—105—and you’ve made some moves, you know it is there. I think that to have thought maybe last year was a bit of a bonus that they actually got in the postseason maybe ahead of schedule, had that not happened everybody would’ve been tickled pink that they got in and then went seven games in the first round. So, you kind of have to take a look at it but having said that, once you do get in the post-season, the window of opportunity is there and you better make the most of it, look what the Vegas Golden Knights are doing.
To listen to the rest of this exclusive interview click here. Don’t forget to tune in to VIBE 105 from 2-3PM every other Friday for a new episode of Beyond The Game and follow us on all social media platforms @BeyondTheGameTO.