"Hell of a ride": Leafs announcer Joe Bowen gives possible final sendoff

May 13 2023, 3:13 pm

While the Toronto Maple Leafs saw their season come to a close on Friday night, it could’ve also quietly marked the end of a career of one of the team’s best-known supporters.

Longtime Leafs announcer Joe Bowen — who has been a staple of both television and radio broadcasts over the years — hinted that it could be the end of his career following Toronto’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Florida Panthers in Game 5 of the second round that eliminated them from the playoffs.

“Well, partner 41 years of doing this, 3,550 games and if this is the end of the line, been a hell of a run for us. I’ve enjoyed every moment of it. Hopefully we’ll be back next year but we’re not sure about yet,” Bowen told his partner Jim Ralph following the game. “But to you and to everybody associated going forward with this has been really very, very special… I’m a little choked up, I’m sorry.”

Based on Bowen’s call, it seems like there’s no contract in place for him next season, though there’s still the possibility of a return.

Bowen, aged 72, made his debut as a play-by-play commentator for the Leafs way back in 1982, working on the television broadcasts of TSN, Sportsnet, and CBC broadcasts over the last four decades.

His uncertainty mirrors that of another longtime Toronto commentator who was — Buck Martinez — who returned to Sportsnet’s Toronto Blue Jays broadcasts for the 2023 season after facing the possibility of retirement this past offseason.

Since Bowen first joined the organization, Toronto has gone 1,418-1,356-192-192 in the regular season, while advancing to the Conference Finals in 1993, 1994, 1999, and 2002, but never making it back to the vaunted Stanley Cup Final.

He has been on the Toronto play-by-play radio call since 2014 for both Sportsnet and TSN.

Adam LaskarisAdam Laskaris

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