Sabres' Broadcaster Neale Honored With Foster Hewitt Memorial Award
Hockey fans in Buffalo and Canada grew up asking their dads if they could stay up to watch Hockey Night in Canada to hear Bob Cole and Harry Neale. Today’s young Sabres fans have grown up asking their parents if they could stay up to watch one more period of Rick Jeanneret and Harry Neale.
Funny thing is, Harry Neale grew up in Ontario, Ca., asking his dad if he could listen to one period of Foster Hewitt, the legendary play-by-play broadcaster for HNIC. And on occasion, he’d sneak a radio into his room to listen to another period or two.
On Tuesday, Neale was announced as recipient of the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award. The award is given by the NHL Broadcasters’ Association to recognize members of the TV and radio industry who made outstanding contributions to their profession.
“Without good work from the people in the truck and the producer and director, I’d be lost up there,” Neale said. “This award has got all sorts of finger prints on it, it’s not just mine.”
It would come as no surprise to those who have listened to Neale over the years that his reaction to receiving the award was self deprecating and emotional. The 77-year-old former Canucks and Red Wings coach said when he was told of the honor, he thought a friend was playing a joke.
“The selection committee called me yesterday and I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “It never even crossed my mind that it was a possibility. So I said ‘call me back in five minutes and re-confirm this with me because I thought he might be pulling my leg.”
Neale began his full-time broadcasting career in 1986. He worked 20 Stanley Cup Finals and three Olympic games.
“There has never been a hockey broadcaster quite like Harry,” Sabres President Ted Black said via release. “He blends his vast knowledge of the game with his own brand of humor and it has obviously resonated with hockey fans for years.”
Neale joins Jeanneret and Ted Darling as other Sabre winners of the award.