The Hockey Hall of Fame is welcoming seven new members into its prestigious halls on Monday, November 9, 2015; and giving out its two yearly media awards. Join us here at Last Word On Sports as we take an in depth look at the new inductees and award winners. We continue the series with one of the best insiders in Hockey: Bob McKenzie.
Known simply as TSN’s Hockey Insider, Bob McKenzie is well respected by colleagues and fans world wide as the best in the industry when it comes to getting breaking hockey news. His reports on the network, on everything from trades, hirings, firings, prospects, rumours, and the draft watch are must see television for every hockey fan. A long time hockey writer, McKenzie is being honoured as the 2015 Elmer Ferguson Jr. award winner, getting much deserved kudos for a long career in hockey.
2015 HHOF Award Winner Profile: Bob McKenzie
Starting out in the Sault
After graduating from the Journalism Program at Ryerson University in 1979, McKenzie began pursuing his dream of being a hockey writer. Like most businesses, one has to start small and work their way up, and that is what McKenzie did, taking his talents to northern Ontario where he became a writer for the Sault Star. Honing his writing chops writing for a small-town paper, and covering the local Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the OHL, it soon became apparent that McKenzie was destined for bigger things.
The Hockey News
McKenzie would soon move on to the Hockey News, writing for the magazine, and climbing the ladder. He would go on to become editor in chief of the publication, a post he would hold for nine years. One of his major contributions to the development of the hockey news, was the creation of their annual draft preview. Prior to McKenzie making it a mission to cover the NHL draft, the NHL Central Scouting rankings were shrouded in secrecy. By pushing to obtain and publish the rankings, as well as having the magazine’s contributors do their own rankings, and by getting information from NHL front offices, McKenzie was able to create annual must read material on NHL draft prospects. His work has spawned numerous other websites, publications, and columns previewing the prospects available in the annual NHL draft.
Outside of that McKenzie grew The Hockey News into the industry leading publication for all things hockey. World wide the publication became known as “The Hockey Bible” and his work in building the company was extremely well-received by those whom he covered, and the fans whose read the information the magazine contained.
The Toronto Star
McKenzie would also spend six years as a hockey columnist for the Toronto Star. During his time with the Star he broke the story on Gil Stein orchestrating his election into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1993. Due in large part to this story, Stein’s election was overturned and he was not inducted into the hall.
He also angered Wayne Gretzky, when he wrote that Gretzky was being outplayed by Doug Gilmour, and was skating like he “had a piano on his back” during the 1993 Campbell Conference Finals. Gretzky would tell his father Walter that the piano would soon play a different tune, and his hattrick led the Kings to a game 7 victory at Maple Leaf Gardens, and a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals.
McKenzie joined TSN in the late 1980s and has been a staple of their hockey coverage ever since. He has continued his work on previewing the NHL draft and his draft rankings, compiled by talking to NHL scouts, are considered the best in the industry. He has also been a staple on the TSN intermission panel, as part of the Network’s insiders, on trade deadline and free agent frenzy broadcasts and of course during the World Juniors. He is the first hockey analyst to amass one million twitter followers, and is still the pre-eminent insider in the business. His work has won him a Gemini Award, and he has been repeatedly honoured by the Hockey News, and Sports Illustrated.
With more than 35 years in the industry, Bob McKenzie has a distinguished reputation as the best hockey insider in the business. He is trusted by those inside the game, and as such has developed an extensive network of contacts that is second to none. His work in bringing fans closer to the game, letting them know what is happening behind the scenes, and confirming breaking rumors has earned him the respect of all members of the hockey fraternity. This award is a long time coming and much deserved. Bob McKenzie is a core piece in why TSN is still amongst the leaders in hockey coverage, even after losing the NHL TV contract in recent years, and his work will continue to be watched by hockey fans the world over.
There’s a reason life-long hockey writer, broadcaster and author Bob McKenzie has a million Twitter followers. There’s a reason he is known affectionately by his colleagues in the industry as ‘The Godfather’. And that reason is simple; there is no more authoritative voice in the game of hockey than McKenzie’s voice,” says Professional Hockey Writer’s Association president Scott Burnside on the Hockey Hall of Fame site.
“If Bob McKenzie says it is so, it is so. I can think of no higher honour for a writer and journalist to be so regarded and McKenzie is full value for every accolade that comes his way, including the Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award.
McKenzie is a two-time best selling author, a Gemini award winner, and has appeared in the Hockey News 100 most influential people in hockey nine times, and in Sports Illustrated’s 20 most influential people in sports broadcasting.
Main Photo: TSN Bob Mckenzie Draft Preview Interview with Connor McDavid