February 22, 2022

Voice of the Saskatoon Blades Les Lazaruk reflects on his career at 2,000 game milestone | CBC News

After more than 27 years in the booth, the voice of the Saskatoon Blades Western Hockey League team called his 2,000th game on Wednesday night — but even after all that time he still remembers his first appearance.

Les Lazaruk, 62, called his milestone game between the Blades and the Regina Pats at the Brandt Centre on Feb. 2, the same arena where he called his first game.

 

Back in 1994, the 35-year-old Lazaruk had already been on the air for more than 15 years, long enough to temper his nerves on the night of his first game, but everything else went wrong.

“The radio equipment that we had inherited at CJWW from old CFQC radio here in Saskatoon decided to not work on that particular night!” he told Leisha Grebinski, host of CBC’s Saskatoon Morning

Lazaruk missed the pregame show, the first period and only entered the airwaves midway through the second period.

His favourite memory behind the mic, he says, was calling the 5-2 Blades victory over the Halifax Mooseheads in 2013, led by now NHL star Nathan MacKinnon.

The Mooseheads would go on to win the Memorial Cup, held in Saskatoon that year, but that didn’t sour Lazaruk’s memory of the Blades toppling a powerhouse Atlantic team.

“That’s the greatest Blades victory I’ve ever had the opportunity to call,” he said.

A partner and a professional in the booth

Darren Dupont has been calling home games alongside Lazaruk for nearing a decade. Dupont doesn’t join Lazaruk on the road to call away games. 

“A lot of broadcasters, at times, might be territorial or they might be, kind of, not that open,” he said.  “[Lazaruk] just gave me room to do whatever I wanted, you know, he was so welcoming.”

Like others that have called Lazaruk a mentor — a title he’s proud to hold — Dupont says he’s learned a lot from the veteran broadcaster. 

“He has been so kind and gracious with knowledge. You just sit there and absorb from him,” Dupont said. 

Even saying that he’s worked with Lazaruk has had weight, Dupont said.

He said that getting the two in a room together to call Lazaruk’s milestone game was difficult, with COVID-19 forcing game delays and cancellations. 

Luckily, it worked out and the two longtime partners got to share the 2,000th, Dupont says. 

“I’m going to cherish all the games I’ve done with Les and this time that we’ve spent together,” he said.

‘Simply the best’

While the Blades’ win over the 2013 Memorial Cup Champions is etched in Lazaruk’s memory, he says his moments with owners, managers, coaches, players and parents remain his favourite aspect of the job. Many have reached out to congratulate him on 2,000 games.

A tribute to Lazaruk played on the Brandt Centre Jumbotron in Regina Tuesday night to acknowledge his legendary achievement.

Lazaruk says he was thankful and happily surprised to see congratulations from a host of broadcasters, including CBC’s own sports reporter Devin Heroux, appear on the big screen.

“For me you were the voice, the soundtrack to so many cold winter nights while I was growing up in Saskatoon,” Heroux said.

Many recited his patented goal-calls, including “High-ho, lets go!” and “Winner, winner, chicken dinner,” while others commented on his contributions to their career as a mentor.

“I don’t know how you do it, congratulations and thank you also for mentoring so many of us up-and-coming journalists,” said Claire Hanna, a TSN sports reporter.

“For you, Les, three words: simply the best,” Peter Loubardias, a Sportsnet sportscaster, said in the video. 

7:00Legendary Saskatoon Blades announcer calls his 2000th game

For over 25 years announcer Les Lazaruk has been the voice of Saskatoon’s WHL hockey team. He speaks with host Leisha Grebinski about what it means to him to reach this impressive milestone. 7:00

Lazaruk says he’s not sure whether he’ll ever catch up with Medicine Hat broadcaster Bob Ridley, who surpassed the 4,000-game mark nearly a year ago, but he’ll keep calling games until “somebody says get the heck out of here.”

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