Tonight’s contest against the San Jose Sharks seemed pointless on the ice, as two non-playoff teams finish out their 82-game schedules, but a generation of Chicago Blackhawks fans were saying “good bye” to a Hall of Fame broadcaster that truly is the “Voice of the Blackhawks.”
Pat Foley, a Glenview, Illinois, native, took over as the Blackhawks play-by-play announcer in 1980 and has spent the good portion of the past 39 seasons (yes, we all know that he was forced out for two seasons) giving Chicago fans something to cheer for, when he belted “Hawks Win! Hawks Win!” all the way to “Bannerman!” and even when the Blackhawks came out on the short end of the score with a “I hope you enjoyed the broadcast in spite of the outcome.” Foley truly is synonymous with the Madhouse on Madison.
Never one to hold back his thoughts, Foley could paint a picture on the radio and articulate a story on the television better than any play-by-play master. The legend was not afraid to stick it to a player that was not quite living up to his end on the ice, but was always quick to praise a player that deserved the spotlight.
As the organization has seen its highest of the highs and lowest of the lows over the past four decades, Foley’s voice was the one constant that fans could get lost for a few hours a night into something that was bigger than themselves.
As the Blackhawks wind down another season without action after the regular season, it was an absolute honor to listen to Foley for close to four decades as the voice of the Blackhawks. As a youngster, many were listening to him on their transistor radios (go ahead, look up what it is) while listening to the Chicago Stadium crowd erupt when the organist drowned out Foley describing the Blackhawks’ goal. All the way to present day, as we say good bye watching on our iPads and Smart TV, to crowds that are reminiscent to the early–mid-2000s when Foley was ousted by the Wirtz family.
Foley gave us chills when shouting our favorite player’s name. He is the reason we remember the run to the Cup in 1991 and also remember the fledgling years of the ABC line. He is also the reason we can get romantic about Marian Hossa and he is also the reason we can cheer about the three Stanley Cups. He is also the reason we look forward to the moments of him and Dale Tallon chuckling about travel and Eddie Olczyk talking about his love for ice cream during the rebuild.
There was nothing better than seeing Mr. Foley up on stage after the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup runs, celebrating with his hometown team. Fans all across the country could see the excitement on his face and how proud he doing broadcasts of three of the greatest teams in Chicago sports history. The great city of Chicago loves their announcers, and Foley is definitely on the “Mount Rushmore” of play-by-play announcers of the Windy City, if not the greatest ever.
So, whether your favorite moments run all the way back to “Larmer!” or maybe “Chris Chelios in overtime!” or even more recent “Crawford! Call the cops!”, take some time to reminisce about your favorite Pat Foley moments and thank a friend or family member that brought the legend into your life through the great game of hockey. The list of memories is truly endless as we hope for a few more “Kaners!” this season.
As we move forward as a fan base, we know no one will be able to replace him, but we need to hold onto the memories we have shared while listening to him. We do not hear it as much as we have in the past, but fans will always remember the great Pat Foley shouting “Hawks Win! Hawks Win!” every time this team brings us out of our seats in the future, even if he is on the golf course enjoying retirement.
Thank you, Pat! It was a hell of a run.