|Jim Hughson is being groomed to take over for Bob Cole on CBC hockey broadcasts. (Sun Media/Joe Warmington)
Harry Neale has not talked to Bob Cole in the past few days.
Upon hearing rumblings that his long-time Hockey Night In Canada partner would be usurped by Jim Hughson as the No. 1 play-by-play man on Saturday nights for this upcoming season, Neale was not surprised.
He has, after all, seen this scenario play out before.
It happened exactly one year ago. And the man whose workload was cut was none other than Neale himself.
"Pretty much the same thing happened to me," Neale said yesterday from his Buffalo-area home. "I received a call from (CBC Sports head) Scott Moore, who told me my duties would be reduced."
Neale estimates he did only about 12 regular-season games on HNIC last season.
Neale has lost count of how many games he and Cole called over the two-plus decades they worked together in the booth with HNIC.
"He is a Canadian broadcast legend," Neale said. "I used to tell Bob that if the players took the game as seriously as he did, the games would be much better.
"He taught me to take the job seriously. My duties were to try and get him to laugh by the time the night was over."
Neale said Cole has not personally told him of any impending changes.
"But where there is smoke, there usually is fire," he added. "It might not be over, but you can hear the alarm ringing.
"Whatever happens, he has been one of the best. The excitement and drama that he has brought to households for decades is immeasurable."