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Legendary NHL broadcaster Bob Cole dies at 90

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Bob Cole, a broadcaster synonymous with hockey, died this week at the age of 90.

Cole was primarily known for his work on “Hockey Night in Canada,” calling Toronto Maple Leafs games from 1980 until 2019.

He also called several Olympic Games, the World Cup of Hockey and numerous Stanley Cup Finals.

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Hockey Night in Canada broadcaster Bob Cole waves to the crowd following a video tribute given by the Winnipeg Jets in honor of his impending retirement during a second period stoppage in play between the Jets and the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell MTS Place on March 30, 2019, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. 

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the network for which Cole worked, announced his death Thursday, adding that daughter Megan said her father had been healthy “up until the very end.”

“He’s such a legend, such a great man,” said Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon, a Nova Scotia native. “I’ve met him a few times over the years. At charity golf tournaments in Halifax, he’d come out and support Atlantic Canadians. Amazing person, super funny. Just a great guy and obviously some of the best calls of all time.”

Cole was best known for his “Oh baby” call and also when he was so excited that he combined the words “goal” and “score,” to let out a call of “gore” after a Joe Sakic goal for Team Canada in the 2002 Olympics.

Bob Cole before game

Broadcast legend Bob Cole gets set to call the action on Hockey Night in Canada between the New York Rangers and the Toronto Maple Leafs in an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena on December 22, 2018, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Maple Leafs defeated the Rangers 5-3. (Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

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NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said that Cole “made every game he called sound bigger” and “transcended generations by sharing his obvious passion for our game and his stunning talent for conveying hockey’s excitement and majesty with both eloquence and enthusiasm.”

Cole called his first game, on radio, between Boston and Montreal in April 1969 and moved to TV in 1973. He called his last game on April 6, 2019 — the regular-season finale between the Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs — and in between was honored by the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1996, winning the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award for outstanding contributions as a hockey broadcaster.

“The hockey world, we lost a legend,” Winnipeg Jets coach Rick Bowness said. “All the coaches around the league and all the hockey people, they trusted him. He was a true pro. You could tell him anything, and he called a great game.”

Bob Cole at Leafs game

Hockey Night in Canada broadcaster Bob Cole stands near the broadcast booth at Rogers Arena before calling the NHL game between the Vancouver Canucks and the Pittsburgh Penguins on October 27, 2018, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.   (Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

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Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper called him “the Wayne Gretzky of announcers.”

“I’m going to miss that man. He was a superstar in this sport,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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