Jim Robson, The Voice of Hockey
To many British Columbians, Jim Robson is the voice of hockey. Countless hockey fans literally grew up on the game while listening to Robson’s impeccable delivery of the on-ice action, whether over the radio or television.
Over the course of his forty-seven-year broadcasting career, Robson called the action for more than 2000 NHL games on radio and television. He broadcast four Stanley Cup Finals and five NHL All-Star Games for Hockey Night in Canada, but is remembered best for his twenty-four years broadcasting Canucks games on radio for CKNW. When the Canucks jumped to the NHL, he was there for the very first game on October 9th, 1970 doing play-by-play for the HNIC television broadcast. In his entire career, he never missed a broadcast due to illness.
Robson was only 17 when he walked into CJAV in Port Alberni to pursue a career in radio. He moved to Vancouver in 1956 to CKWX where he remained for 14 years and then moved to CKNW, his home for the next 24 years. During his career in sports broadcasting, he demonstrated versatility and ease with a range of sports including baseball, football, high school basketball , track & field and golf, but his passion was focused on hockey.
With Robson, listeners followed the progress of ice hockey in Vancouver. Wherever the team went, he was there, from the last game played at the Vancouver Forum to the first game at the Pacific Coliseum and subsequently, the team’s move to General Motors Place. He also brought hockey fever home with his broadcast of the first NHL games in Edmonton and Calgary for Hockey Night in Canada, not to mention his work for CBC, BCTV, VTV and CTV Sports Net.
His trademark line used to open every broadcast (“Good evening hockey fans and welcome to this National Hockey League game…”) became nearly as well-known as his regular nod to those listening at home: “…at this time it is my pleasure to welcome to the broadcast all the shut-ins, the pensioners, the blind, and all of those people who can’t get out to watch hockey games.” Robson’s lifelong dedication to his craft has been honoured numerous times, including induction into the media section of the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1992 and BC Sports Hall of Fame in 2000.
Robson retired in April 1999 and continues to attend Canucks games to this day as a spectator. He can regularly be found in the arena trading stories with fans and long-time friends. In 2005, he published a popular coffee table book, “Hockey Play-by-Play: Around the NHL with Jim Robson,” with Vancouver writer Jason Farris that told inside stories of Robson’s countless trips around the many NHL arenas over his career. When the Canucks honoured the original 1970-71 Canuck players on the 40th anniversary of the Canucks’ first NHL game October 9, 1970, the sell-out Rogers Arena crowd saved perhaps the loudest ovation of the night for Robson, the man who broadcast more Canuck games than any other.