A tribute to Pat Foley

A tribute to Pat Foley
April 19, 2013, 12:30 pm
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Nobody’s been better. The enthusiasm, the energy, the voice, the excitement of the game, he has all of those things.
—Dale Tallon, Panthers GM and former broadcast partner of Pat Foley on Foley's being honored by the Blackhawks

Voices. Some well-known ones are very easy to distinguish, easy to tie to what they do or who they are. Pat Foley’s is certainly one of those.

“Very few people you can hear and all of a sudden just draw a connection that it's Blackhawks hockey. And to me, I think that's the greatest compliment,” Eddie Olczyk said of his on-air partner. “When you hear Pat Foley, you know the Blackhawks are on the air. That's probably as good as it gets, because people will always put the Blackhawks and Pat Foley hand-in-hand.”

Calling someone “an institution” gets done too often these days, but in Mr. Foley’s case, we’ll make an exception. He is synonymous with Blackhawks’ broadcasts, with those trademark calls and catchphrases that have become so recognizeable over the years. And tonight, Foley will be honored for his 30th year as the voice of the Blackhawks.

[MORE: Pat Foley: Becoming the voice of the Blackhawks]

For those who have worked with him, or who have been part of his calls, it’s tremendous to see Foley honored.

“There aren’t many guys in any profession who stick around for 30 years. He’s just so good at what he does,” said former Blackhawks defenseman Steve Konroyd, who sometimes shares the booth with Foley. “He’s informative. He’s the kind of guy you want to sit around and have a drink with. And that’s what he brings to the table when he does his play by play: you’re with a buddy and he’s telling you what’s going on.”

Former Blackhawks and current Florida GM Dale Tallon couldn’t resist giving his old partner a good-natured ribbing.

“It’s only been 30 years? It seems a lot longer,” Tallon said with a laugh. “He’s just a wonderful guy and a great friend, and I’m really proud and happy for him. We had a lot of fun together. There were some exciting games but we had some down years, too, when the team wasn’t very good. It was about how professional he was, how much fun he was. He made the best of every situation, and it was a joy to work with him.”

Tallon also puts Foley up there with the best of them, be it fellow NHL announcers or Chicago sports broadcasters.

“Nobody’s been better,” he said. “The enthusiasm, the energy, the voice, the excitement of the game, he has all of those things. He idolized Harry Caray, but he doesn’t take a backseat to anyone in Chicago as far as I’m concerned.”

Chris Chelios, who was part of Foley’s calls for the nine seasons he wore the Blackhawks sweater, called Foley “a genuine guy.”

“He’s seen it all, and nobody’s more proud of the Blackhawks than Pat,” Chelios said. “Some people may have a different preference (on announcers), and Eddie’s going to be mad at me, but Doc (Emrick) and Pat are the two best in the business.”

Dallas Stars play-by-play man Ralph Strangis, who’s known Foley for more than 20 years, said Foley just stands out among the pack.

“He has an unusual call, a signature call and a very unique instrument that most broadcasters don’t have,” Strangis said. “So when you combine his enthusiasm, his love for the Blackhawks, his unique instrument and his way of conveying all that energy to the viewer, he’s really one of a kind in a field where there are too many who sound alike.”

Foley’s smooth call and great inflection behind every “Big save!” during games are as part of the Blackhawks fabric as that rousing national anthem before them. He’s earned his place among the best voices in hockey. He’s more than earned tonight’s tribute.