Hockey fans gather in St. John's as Bob Cole is laid to rest

Bob Cole, pictured here in 2018, died last week in St. John's. He was 90.  (Claus Andersen/Getty Images - image credit)
Bob Cole, pictured here in 2018, died last week in St. John's. He was 90. (Claus Andersen/Getty Images - image credit)
Claus Andersen/Getty Images
Claus Andersen/Getty Images

Family, friends and fans from around the hockey world are gathering in St. John's on Friday afternoon for the funeral of broadcasting icon Bob Cole.

Cole, 90, died last week in St. John's surrounded by his family.

Cole was known as the soundtrack to some of hockey's greatest moments over his 50-year career. His voice often followed the Hockey Night in Canada theme — which was played by the CLB Armory band following the funeral.

He worked 34 of those years with broadcaster Ron MacLean, who was asked to deliver the eulogy at St. Thomas Anglican Church — Cole's family church, close to where he grew up in old St. John's.

"Bob's a dear, dear friend who mentored me and was up to lots of mischief with me.… We all know that his voice is legendary and we can hear that, but I'll always recall the gleam in his eye," MacLean said Friday, adding he spoke to Cole four days before his death.

"Like the saying goes, the meaning of life is that it ends. The meaning of love is that it doesn't."

Danny Arsenault/CBC
Danny Arsenault/CBC

Former Newfoundland and Labrador premier Danny Williams said Cole represented the province with pride and grace.

"Bob gave us a special, international reputation. I mean he was highly respected, his voice is iconic," he said. "He's our hometown boy, and we took great pride every time he called a game."

WATCH | Bob Cole always had a gleam in his eye, says Ron MacLean: 

Fan Evan Purcell came to the funeral wearing a powder-blue Hockey Night in Canada blazer — not unlike the one Cole would have worn for a broadcast.

"The best broadcaster ever. The Wayne Gretzky of commentary," he said. "He was always so electric, and he always got you on the edge of your seat."

Malone Mullin/CBC
Malone Mullin/CBC

This time of year is a busy time for Cole's colleagues at Hockey Night in Canada, who were on TV in Toronto the night before, but reporter and analyst Elliott Friedman said it was important for the crew to be in St. John's.

"Everybody who knew Bob and everybody who worked with Bob, you know, we all loved being around him," said Friedman. "The thing about Bob is I don't think you can't be any good in this business if you don't have passion. And when a game got big or when a moment got big, nobody had the passion of Bob. And we loved being around him."

He told reporters he was overcome with emotion watching Cole's children speak at the funeral, and that he admired how the service used the music of Frank Sinatra, one of Cole's favourite performers.

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