Hockey Hall of Fame 2019: How Jim Hughson became one of the cornerstone voices of hockey

Sporting News

Serving as the Hockey Night in Canada lead play-by-play announcer for over a decade, Jim Hughson has been welcomed into millions of homes across the country and goes down in the Hall of Fame as one of the cornerstone sportscasters of the game.

His memorable career started back in the 1980s when he worked radio broadcasts for Vancouver Canucks games. He'd occasionally get the chance to step in for Jim Robson on play-by-play when Robson would have another broadcast on national TV. His work there eventually led him to Toronto, where he worked as the Maple Leafs' television sportscaster.

Hughson broke out, though, when he joined TSN five years later. He became known for his distinct voice and entertaining commentary, as well as coining the phrase "That's hockey!" — which later became the name of one of the channel's NHL talk shows.

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Not only is he known for his TV and radio presence, but fans also hear Hughson through their video game consoles: he was the play-by-play voice for EA Sports NHL games from 1997-2009. He also served as the PxP announcer in EA's "Triple Play" MLB games from 1997-2001.

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After various gigs at CTV Sportsnet and Rogers Sportsnet, where he continued with radio for a bit before going back to television and broadcasting Canucks games on Sportsnet Pacific, Hughson's big break finally came when CBC hired him to join Hockey Night in Canada in 2005.

Starting as a secondary PxP man behind Bob Cole, Hughson would broadcast the second game of doubleheaders and covered one playoff series during the postseason. And despite the workload — which also included serving as the secondary announcer for the men's ice hockey games at the 2006 Winter Olympics — Hughson still worked with Sportsnet Pacific on Canucks regional games. As if hockey wasn't enough, he also broadcasted Toronto Blue Jays games for CBC for the 2007 and 2008 campaigns.

A jack-of-all-trades, Hughson became one of the most versatile sportscasters in hockey. In 2008, he signed an exclusive six-year agreement with CBC and would go on to replace Cole as the primary play-by-play man on HNIC, becoming a staple of NHL broadcasts around Canada.

Hughson has covered All-Star Games, Winter Classics, Stanely Cup Finals and men's hockey in the 2014 Winter Olympics with CBC. In 2014, he re-joined Sportsnet when Rogers Communications took over after acquiring sole rights to the NHL in Canada, so in addition to HNIC, he appears on Sportsnet to boot.

He has brought home hardware to show his success, too. Not only did Hughson win five Gemini awards — given to talent working in Canadian television up until 2011 — but he also won the 2015 Canadian Screen Award for Best Sports Play-by-Play Announcer. He has been nominated for that award four more times since that year.

The Hockey Hall of Fame announced earlier this year that he won the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award, which is given annually by the NHL Broadcasters' Association "in recognition of members of the radio and television industry who made outstanding contributions to their profession and the game during their career in hockey broadcasting," as per the HHOF.

Hughson's unique broadcast style and sheer reach around the hockey world between his Maple Leafs, Canucks and HNIC coverage has rightfully earned him a spot in the Hall.

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