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July 17, 2011


Devlin Thompson

I'm pretty sure that the phrase Kells used would have been "Éminence grise", rather than "eminent grease". Outside of that, a compelling read, even though I'd be hard-pressed to find a topic further from my range of interests.


I like the phrase eminent grease. Coin it.


Gary Dornhoefer was definitely standing in front of his own statue at The Spectrum in that photo.

Michael Powers

I've literally never heard of any of these people but I couldn't stop reading this until I finished it, the writing pulled me along so well. This really was a window into a world I know nothing about. It was pretty weird about the drugs and Bill's medical condition, whatever it might be. You know, I'm imagining what it was like for him and I'm guessing that he just didn't like the people he was thrown in with and they didn't understand him at all. I have a feeling that he was underestimated by his co-workers because his interests diverged from theirs but of course there's no way to tell. He seems to have wound up doing exactly what he wanted, forgetting that job and leaving it behind while going to his farm with his woman, which was his preference all along. He might've been delighted to say the hell with it and move on, strange as that might sound to a fan of the game. Everyone else kept calling it sad but I'm betting this was the happiest of endings for him if you think about it. If you're fabulously wealthy, why spend your life with people you despise doing something that you're finally bored with after doing it for eons?

John Bartony

Living in Detroit, a border town, I grew up watching Hockey Night in Canada in the late fifties. I always enjoyed Bill Hewitt and sorry to hear about his downfall. I always enjoyed his work when play by play announcers did just that and not much else. That was the way it was done then, not like today. The game would come on and the puck would drop. God Bless Bill Hewitt and Foster from a Red Wing Fan...Danny Gallivan too! HOckey Night In Canada was always great!


Dick Irvin was the best play by play man I ever heard. Used to listen to him call the Montreal Canadiens games on the radio as a kid.

You should look into Montreal radio icon Ted Tevan, he was the best sports call-in host I've ever heard.

I really loved reading this article, thank you for posting it.

Brian McFarlane

During Bill's final game, Don Wallace came up to the booth and discussed the situation with me. I suggested I simply take over as play-by-play mam with Goldham, explaining that Bill was ill and was going to take the rest of the night off. It was just a pre-season game. But Wallace said no, "I'll talk to Bill." If he did it changed nothing. I was angry with Wallace because he showed no faith in me as a commentator--I never had the chance to do play-by-play at the Gardens--and I thought it was a poor decision, letting Bill further embarrass himself. Some of us went to visit Bill and his new wife at their country home northeast of Toronto after the season. He seemed in good spirits but happy to be retired. Then we heard that Ted Hough wanted him to come back the following season, a decision that left most of shaking our heads. (Danny Gallivan took over midweek telecasts) Bill was a gentle soul who could do play-by-play and little else. He never attended a practice or entered a dressing room or joined the fellows for a post game pop. After his wife left him, he helped to raise a fine family. One of his daughters lives in Maple Leaf, Ontario--on Groundhog Lane. How Canadian is that?


As a boy growing up in southern Ontario in the 60s, Bill Hewitt and Ward Cornell were like spiritual leaders, gods. My dad was in the air force so we returned to the west coast and fortunately i was rescued from the Maple Leaf curse, but it was always a mystery to me why Hewitt (and Cornell, too) seemed to just disappear. Personally, although I hated the Habs, Gallivan was the greatest, followed by Robson.
But if anything, Foster Hewitt was a gas, especially when he continually mangled Yvon Cournoyer's name, the little Roadrunner. Thanks for this great article!
(and hi Mr McFarlane! another hockey telecast great!)


I'm amazed for someone who thought he know everything about the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Hewitts I never knew Bill was so sick he just disappeared I remember his last game and he was very disoriented listening I knew something was wrong figured maybe Bill had a mild stroke. I don't remember ever getting a explanation from Hockey Night In Canada thank you all for sharing your stories a last fan since 1964.

Arkansas Cpr Certification

do State health departments work to protect health at the national level?


As a die-hard Leaf fan in the 60s I watched a lot of games on TV (and listened on radio) and in person (including at least one Stanley Cup winning game!!)

I recall one radio broadcast where Bill's son did a short stint of play-by-play. Where they grooming a third generation? There really seems to be little mention of Bill's famiy!!!

bill Prucknic

that is the 1st I heard of what happend to Bill Hewitt . I to live in the Detroit area watched hockey night in Canada.Back then we didn't get channel 50 to watch the wings so channel 9 was are only chance to watch hockey.

CBC Digital Archives

Here's a link to the 1972 radio show during which Nick Auf der Maur calls Foster Hewitt a fossil.

He's talking to Danny Finkleman, by the way, but it was indeed on Peter Gzowski's show This Country in the Morning.


I'm from the last generation of Leaf fans that grew up with Bill Hewitt. I always referred to him as "our guy". I even had a few conversations with him after he retired (they were very pleasant by the way). So what I'm about to say pains me but it needs to be said. Bill should NEVER have been a broadcaster. He should have followed the path of Curt Gowdy's son and worked behind the scenes. His broadcast career was never going compared favourably to Jim Robson, Bob Cole, Danny Gallivan or Dan Kelly. I didn't see Bill's last game but my Dad did and he still doesn't like to talk about it (and he's a Habs fan by the way). I agree with Brian McFarlane's comment above. I can't believe that Ted Hough was trying to get him back. You can't possibly put him back on the air after he butchered a broadcast as badly as he did that night. Today Bill could sue for wrongful dismissal and have a good chance of winning, but I think he made a wise decision not to go back even with society's increased knowledge and understanding of mental health issues. The bottom line, in my opinion--- Bill just didn't belong in the broadcast booth.

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