Silver anniversary in the gondola

JODY VANCE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:24 AM ET

Congratulations, Joe Bowen.

Last night the man we call "Bonesy" celebrated an incredible 25 years calling Toronto Maple Leafs games.

This, my friends, is a man who truly deserves our admiration and adoration. He is, without question, a truly wonderful what-you-see-is-what-you-get person in a business of egos and "Don't you know who I think I am?"

Joe Bowen is a rarity.

Each home game, I looked forward to sitting in the media room at the Air Canada Centre for our pre-game meal with Joe, Harry (Neale, now off to Buffalo), Paul (Hendrick), Greg (Millen), Andi (Petrillo), among others, and our entertainment compliments of the one and only Mr. Bowen.

His hockey knowledge and perspective on the game is second to none.

He is a fan, but one who knows the product on the ice as well as, if not better than, those who build the squad.

Joe is as charismatic sitting around that table as he is with the microphone in hand with a trademark one-liner always at the ready -- while being as self-deprecating as they come.

Joe is one of the hardest working men in hockey, yet always finds the time to use his 'celebrity' to support special causes. This busy husband and father knows his status with the Leafs gives him a voice in the community, and he uses it to give back.

Whether selling his trademark 'Holy Mackinaw' T-shirts (great Christmas gifts) from a booth at the ACC before Christmas, or promoting a summer-long weekend bottle drive with the LCBO, Bonesy is constantly lending his name -- and unmistakable voice -- to forward a worthy cause.

His son is a childhood leukemia survivor, so it is no surprise this is Joe's charity of choice.

Next time you hear his dulcet tones across your TV or radio, give a tip of your cap to Joe and his 25 years of 'Holy Mackinaw' and celebrate a real good guy.

(Then say a little prayer for his Notre Dame Fighting Irish this season -- they are brutal.)

-- Jody Vance is a longtime sportscaster and personality with Leafs TV. Her column appears Tuesdays and Thursdays in 24 hours.


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