There is always cause for concern when a marriage of unlikely partners takes place and when Bell and Rogers took the plunge to jointly purchase Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE), speculation was rampant about how these two rivals were going to be able to work together to build winning sports franchises.
Well, if the news Wednesday was any indication, then either they have no issues working together or they have just picked the low-hanging fruit to test their ability to get things done, when it was announced that the Toronto Maple Leafs radio colour analyst, Jim Ralph, was relieved of his duties after 16-years with the Leafs.
Ralph actually tweeted his release @Jim_Ralph when he joked that his dismissal was “jointly done by my new step parents (Bell and Rogers, owners of MLSE). Take pride being first guy fired by TSN and The Fan on same day.”
Ralph also tweeted that, “For the record, my firing was due to changes in my department. Nothing personal. I was just the only one in the department.”
Ralph, known for his quick wit and unique sense of humour was a former NHL draft-pick of the Chicago Black Hawks, however after a serious knee injury and if I can recall correctly, many stories about his coaches wanting him to stop the puck more, he moved to broadcasting and worked 16 years and 1,196 straight games.
At first it was hard getting just to his joking on the radio, but as the Leafs got worse and worse, his humour actually made the broadcasts fun and I recall many a game where I would break into laughter listening to Ralph and long-time Leafs play-by-play announcer Joe Bowen work their magic together. It seemed the longer Bowen worked with Ralph, the funnier he got too.
It what I would describe as a typical Ralph way, he commented; “I don’t harbour an ounce of bitterness,” he said in a later tweet. “I’m not the first to go through it. Others have had it worse.”
So with this announcement I hope that “Ralphy” gets back on his feet quickly but only in a role that would suit him best. He needs to be able to use his extensive hockey-knowledge and his sense of humour to do what he likes doing best… Talk.
How does this make you feel as a Leafs fan or a listener of Leafs broadcasts?
Was this done because of the impending move from AM640 to Fan590 and Team1050 for Leafs broadcasts?