Two of the best

PAUL FRIESEN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 12:33 PM ET

First the news Don Wittman is battling cancer. Now the sudden death of Don Chevrier.

This has not been a good month for some of our most beloved sports broadcasters.

Chevrier, the original voice and TV face of Toronto Blue Jays broadcasts and the CFL in the 1970s, died Monday at his home in Palm Harbor, Fla.

And the news hit his curling broadcast partner, Don Duguid, right between the eyes here in Winnipeg.

"Very shocking," Duguid said yesterday. "I talk to him at least twice a week and knew he was having a bit of blood problems, but nothing that would make him pass, I'll tell you that.

"We've been around together for a long time. And with Don Wittman being sick, and him, it's just shattering."

Duguid and Chevrier go back to 1972, when they brought us the Brier from St. John's, Nfld.

These days, they were partners on NBC-TV's curling coverage. With the 2002 and '06 Olympics under their belts, they were already planning to team up for the 2010 Games in Vancouver.

Until yesterday, when Duguid got the call.

"We were friends for a lot of years," Duguid said. "Last year his daughter got married in Las Vegas and we went to the wedding. We were pretty close. It's very sad. Him and Wittman were the best. Are the best."

Wittman, with CBC-TV some 45 years, has been battling a return of his cancer since the fall. It first appeared in 2001, when he was diagnosed with melanoma on his ear.

"It metastasized from melanoma," Wittman, 71, said yesterday from his home in Headingley. "For six, seven years I've been free. And then this summer I got sick, and that's where it caught up with me.

"I've got it all through my system. The prognosis is not good."

Just off 10 days of radiation treatments, Wittman's voice is a little weak, his thoughts a touch slow.

But he had no trouble recalling the skills of his late colleague.

"He had a great set of pipes," Wittman said of Chevrier. "He could do almost anything. It came as a shock. Quite out of the blue, this morning."

Like Wittman, Duguid can't help but mention Chevrier's voice. But there was so much more to the 69-year-old.

"He was an exceptional broadcaster," Duguid said. "His timing was impeccable. He had a great memory. They'd throw something at him -- don't forget to promo the hockey game tonight -- and he'd do that just off the top of his head. He'd know the stats of the hockey team, and all that. He was unbelievable.

"He broke into TV sports when you really had to be good at it."

If you grew up in the 70s, Chevrier was the man in Canadian sports.

Kind of like Wittman has been ever since.

Grey Cups, Briers, Stanley Cup playoffs and, of course, Olympics -- Witt's done it all.

No wonder he's been getting calls from around the continent.

"I've had phone calls and e-mails, every National Hockey League team," Wittman said. "Glen Sather was one of the first to call. I'd done a game of theirs (New York Rangers), and I was sick when I did it, in October. And he phoned and said, 'What are you doing, getting sick?' "

That's what you want to ask, you can't help it. These men are fixtures on TV sports, always there, since the beginning. People we can count on.

Who said they could miss a day, let alone get something serious?

Of course, it doesn't work that way.

We are reminded, again, how fragile it all is.

"I'm just trying to stay ahead of it," Wittman said.

It's not the call you want to hear him make.

Contact Paul at paul.friesen@sunmedia.ca or

632-2788.


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