Pat Connolly - The Dean of Hockey
Nov 29 , 2012
Category: The Legendary Voice of Halifax Sports
On Tuesday, November 27th we lost a Nova
Scotia Sports Legend when my friend Pat Connolly passed away at age 84 after battles with cancer.
For twelve years from 1997 to 2009 I had the pleasure of being a part of the Public Address Announcer team at the Metro Centre at the Halifax Mooseheads games with Pat.
In 2009 when I was asked to take over for Nova Scotia’s “Mr. Hockey” at ice level it was a HUGE honor. I could never “replace” Pat as he was one-of-a-kind; I like to say I “took over” for The Legend, and believe me those are big shoes to fill. After leaving the Mooseheads office on that June 2nd, 2009 day, I walked up the street and looked up in the sky and told my parents “I’m taking over for 'The Legend'”- I know they’d be proud.
After 60 years in the sports and radio business at age 81, Pat officially retired on September 18th, 2009 and we sent him out in fine style at the Metro Centre on that special “Pat Connolly Night.” We raised his “CONNOLLY” name and microphone to the rafters with other famous Mooseheads retired numbers like #47 Jean-Sebastien Giguere, #25 Jody Shelley and #18 Alex Tanguay. We also named the media area on the 5th floor of the rink “The Pat Connolly Press Box.” During O Canada I always take a few seconds to acknowledge Pat by looking at his banner in the rafters, now, after O Canada I’ll salute The Legend. He blazed the trail for us younger generation of announcers and was a true gentleman and family man.
Pat Connolly was born and raised in Nova Scotia. His radio broadcasting career began at age 17 in 1945 when he accompanied a friend to an audition to offer moral support at CJCB in Sydney. Instead, Pat was ordered by the station owner Nate Nathanson to audition, despite his protests that he had not applied for the job. He was hired and worked at CJCB on Charlotte Street for several years. He began his print journalism career at age 18 in Sydney with the Halifax Herald in 1945, later followed by a move to the Sydney Post-Record.
For over 35 years Pat was the hockey voice of the Nova Scotia-based American Hockey League’s Nova Scotia Voyageurs, Nova Scotia Oilers and Cape Breton Oilers, the Halifax Citadels and from 1994 to 2009 he was the golden-toned Public Address Announcer voice of the Halifax Mooseheads in the QMJHL.
Pat was also an accomplished writer who had a unique command of the English language and wrote for the Chronicle Herald and Halifax Daily News, as well as other national and international publications. He was also a part of the 1980’s publication “Cousin Clem” feature.
Our radio careers followed the same paths, we both started at CJCB and worked for the Nathanson’s, we moved to Halifax and worked for stations like CJCH, CHNS, CFDR and Q104. Pat did sports on The Q in the 1980’s on the Power Breakfast with Bob Powers and Crew.
A few years ago when my mother Barbara was living at Northwood here in Halifax I was in visiting her one day, as I was leaving I ran into Pat getting on the elevator. He was coming in to visit a family member. I asked Pat, would it be possible to drop by my mom’s room and meet her. Pat obliged and I got to introduce my mother to him. We had a great chat. Ma used to listen to Pat in the 1940’s and ‘50’s call the play-by-play on CJCB covering the Sydney Millionaires hockey games. That is a memory I’ll cherish having Pat meet Ma!
For over the last 60 years Pat dedicated a lot of time to the community, local charities and sports community and received an honorary Doctorate of Laws degree from St. Mary’s University for his community involvement, something he was very proud of.
One time in our playoff run in 2005 against Sidney Crosby and the Rimouski Oceanic, I had my usual pre-game chat with Pat and asked him “Any predictions tonight Pat?” He replied “Predictions are for gypsies, Ian…”
Pat still came to the rink right up to the end and was with me in the announcer booth at ice level by the penalty box last month and together we watched the Mooseheads players in their pre-game warm up. He said “Ian, we’ve got a good team; I think this is the year.” I put my arm around him and said “I think we’ll do it Pat.” That was the last time I saw my friend and mentor.
To his family: wife of 50 years Bette, son David, daughter-in-law Alison and his grand children Alec and Brighid, who he was sooo proud of, my thoughts and prayers are with you. Pat was and always will be someone I looked up to as a role model and mentor.
Thanks for the memories Pat, Moose Country loves ya!
The the voice of the Halifax Mooseheads, Ian rocks the rink, and rocks the nighttime airwaves on the Q!