Sports

Voice of the Calgary Flames

Peter Maher, the radio voice for the Calgary Flames from 1980 to 2013, said that since his youth, he was destined to be a broadcaster.

“My mother said that she had a feeling, when I was 10 or 11 years old that I was going to be a broadcaster,” said Maher.

Maher and his brothers would play table hockey, then go outside and play ball hockey, while he was doing the play-by-play.

When he was 15 years-old, he was doing public address announcing for his hometown softball team in Campbellton, New Brunswick.

“What happened originally was the radio station manager, who was one of the players, asked me to do some reports for the team.”

Then in his senior year in high school, he was the regular sports caster for the local radio station. He also did a lot of writing for the local newspaper and eventually got into play-by-play a few years later.

His favourite Calgary Flames game was in May 25, 1989 against the Montréal Canadiens when the Flames won the Stanley Cup.

“It really stands out to me. I feel like it happened yesterday.”

Further into his career, he got to broadcast the men’s hockey gold medal game in the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics where he got to call Sidney Crosby’s “golden goal.”

Maher’s main idol growing up was Danny Gallivan, who was a play-by-play broadcaster in the 1960s and 1970s.

Part of the reason he looked up to him was because they were both Maritimers. Maher was also a Toronto Maple Leafs fan growing up and listened to Gallivan broadcast Leafs games whenever he got the chance.

“You eventually develop little tricks to the game, you learn how to effectively broadcast the important details, because you can’t cover everything.”

He eventually met Gallivan through a friend of his in Montréal and asked him if he could send him a tape recording of his work.

Eventually, Gallivan gave a speech in Maher’s hometown and told the crowd that Maher wouldn’t be there much longer because he had too much talent to be broadcasting hockey games in New Brunswick.

Two months later, he left to go broadcast games for the Maple Leafs.

Being the Flames broadcaster, Maher got the unique experience of seeing some of the Flames’ greatest moments.

If he had to compare past teams from a standpoint of excitement, he said he felt that there was more excitement for the 2004 team than the 1989 Stanley Cup Champion team.

“They were in last place a month and a half into the season and looked like they weren’t even going to make the playoffs.”

There were a few reasons for this. In 2004, there were more people in Calgary than in 1989 and the 2004 team was not supposed to do well.

The Flames ultimately lost in 2004 in seven games. They came very close to winning it in game six, but lost in overtime due to a disallowed goal.

 “Don’t even get me started on that, we will be here all night. But in all fairness to the NHL, we didn’t have all the review equipment that we have now. The 1989 Flames were built to win the cup and the 2004 team were complete underdogs,” Maher said.

The team has a lot of potential and has a bright future but does not know if they are Stanley Cup contenders yet. If they do get into the playoffs this year, anything can happen.

He doesn’t want to rule them out. It would be ideal to finish first or second place in the Pacific division because they get home-ice advantage.

He looks at this team and is pretty much convinced that if not next year, the year after Calgary and Edmonton will be the two best teams in the Pacific division.

His reasoning is the California teams are starting to slide back, their good players are getting past their prime and they don’t have the good, young players the Flames and Oilers have.

“I see the Battle of Alberta resuming to what it used to be.”

For many years, the Flames have been better than the Oilers but now it is much more even.

Maher said the Flames’ biggest need right now is to get more scoring depth. To do that right now and then in a salary-cap world is very hard to do.

“I wouldn’t want them to give up any of our solid base for the future, if you look at our forwards and defenseman, we are very young and skilled.”

If he had any advice for aspiring broadcasters out there, it would be to work hard at it and practice constantly. He strongly suggests taking a recorder to a game with you, recording yourself, then analyzing it after to see what you need to work on.

“You eventually develop little tricks to the game, you learn how to effectively broadcast the important details, because you can’t cover everything.”

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