NHLers reflect on the career of legendary announcer Bob Cole ahead of final game

Legendary play-by-play man Bob Cole will call his final game for "Hockey Night in Canada" when the Toronto Maple Leafs visit the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday. Ahead of his final broadcast, The Canadian Press asked a number of NHL players and coaches to reflect on the 85-year-old's half-century career.

Legendary play-by-play man Bob Cole will call his final game for "Hockey Night in Canada" when the Toronto Maple Leafs visit the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday. Ahead of his final broadcast, The Canadian Press asked a number of NHL players and coaches to reflect on the 85-year-old's half-century career.

Here's what they had to say:

"He's an unbelievable gentleman, first of all. I think if you let him, Bob would probably work another 10 years. He's just fantastic to be around. He's a big-hearted man. He's found a way to do his job in a positive manner. He's influenced tons of people. I'm privileged to call him a friend." — Leafs head coach Mike Babcock

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"Bob Cole ... when you talk about watching Hockey Night in Canada, that's what the Gallaghers remember. My mom was probably the most entertained by him. He had a way of calling games that just captivated you. It was definitely cool to meet him the first time. I remember telling him my second year in the league that my mom was a big fan. Still every once in while he gives my mom a shout-out. It's nice to be part of his last game." — Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher

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"A living legend. I've had a great relationship with him over the years. His voice is iconic. It's all I associated with watching hockey growing up. Bittersweet for sure, but a great man. He has a close spot in a lot of Canadians' hearts over the years." — Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos

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"That was the guy you grew up listening to. He made the game even more special than what it was. He brought you into the game, to be a part of it." — Leafs centre John Tavares

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"His voice is to any hockey fan what Morgan Freeman's is to the cinema world. He's got one of the most recognizable voices in the game. For my family, it was pretty cool to hear Bob Cole call our games and have him say my name." — Ottawa Senators winger Zack Smith

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"I just love his voice. He's definitely going to be missed. He's done a lot for this game. Pretty much all I heard (growing up watching hockey) was his voice. It brings back a lot of good memories." — Vancouver Canucks centre Bo Horvat

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"If there was a choice to watch any hockey game, you want that guy calling it. It's just ingrained in my memory. He's the voice of hockey in Canada. I love hearing him. He's got a great way with him. I'm certainly sad to see him go." — Carolina Hurricanes captain Justin Williams

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"One of the greatest memories for me was two years ago in Montreal. Bob came down to our pre-game skate, and as he does, he just strolls right into the coaches' room unannounced. He's the only guy that's allowed to do it or can do it. I asked him if he would take me up to the gondola in Montreal. I go out for the skate, I come back, I thought he'd forgot about it. Five minutes later he wheels in there and brings me upstairs. I put the headsets on with him, we took pictures. It was just he and I. That was just one of those moments I'll always cherish, that Bob did that for me." — Lightning head coach Jon Cooper

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"He's a legend of the game. When you think of Saturday nights with your folks or your friends, that was the familiar voice. I grew up watching Hockey Night in Canada so Bob Cole for me is a voice you always recognized. It will definitely be different without him." — Senators defenceman Dylan DeMelo

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"Total icon. He made the game exciting, and still does. It's just that voice. Every little shot that isn't really important sounds like it might go in. He keeps you on the edge of your seat. He's going to be missed. When I was a kid watching Danny Gallivan had the same impact for me. And then Bob ... he's the best." — Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind'Amour

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"Bob was infamous for needing your lines as he prepared for the games and he would always say, 'I'll never tell anybody your lines.' I remember being at the (1998) Olympics when he told the same story to the coach of the Russian team. He convinced (Vladimir) Yurzinov to give him his lines, which was something he never did. And then Bob was sharing them with (colour commentator Harry) Neale and Yurzinov stopped his practice and came over and started pointing at Bob and chewed him out. There's so many great Bob stories. He's a national treasure." — Senators interim head coach Marc Crawford

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With files from Joshua Clipperton, Alexis Belanger-Champagne, Gemma Karstens-Smith and Lisa Wallace

The Canadian Press