Maher ready for radio duties

By IAN BUSBY, QMI AGENCY

As much as new technology will make this February's Olympics available on multiple platforms, the original way at-home fans stayed in touch with sports won't change.

And if anyone gets stuck in their vehicle during men's hockey games, there will be a comforting voice guiding them through the contests via the radio.

Calgary Flames broadcaster Peter Maher is the voice of Team Canada across the nation for Vancouver 2010, with 51 stations now on board to carry the hockey tournament live.

Maher, who will work with Sportsnet colourman John Garrett, expects a decent following despite the expected monster ratings a Canadian gold-medal game would bring.

"To me, radio just stays the same," said Maher, who took over Flames broadcasts in 1981. "You put it out there and people listen. I get all kinds of e-mails and calls from people who can't get to a TV set."

When the Flames went on their Stanley Cup final run in 2004, Maher's voice was heard throughout the country due to his "Yeah, Baby" catchphrase.

The following year, with the NHL in a lockout, Maher signed on to do the world championships, and suddenly listeners were hearing him for the first time in different parts of the country. But doing the Olympics is a first for Maher, who has broadcasted for about 36 years.

"I've never had a chance to do it before, and, most likely, I won't get to do it in the future," said the 61-year-old from Campbellton, N.B.

"When they asked me to do it, I was excited to say yes. It fills out my resume because I've done everything else you can in hockey."

Another first for Maher will be the women's gold-medal final. He has never done a women's game before and warns fans he may slip up by saying "he" instead of "she" when talking about the puck carrier.

Being the radio voice of Team Canada is a monicker Maher is honoured to have, but there is a tight schedule of Flames games before he hits Vancouver.

He isn't caught up in Olympics fever yet.

"It might hit me more when I get there and it gets going," Maher said. "While I'm doing work to get prepared, I'm trying to keep it in the back of my mind.

"But when I was in Vancouver last weekend, you drive around and see the rings and the places where events will be and it gets the itch going."

HD good for game

It's still amazing how much high definition can change viewing of different sports. For the first time, the National Lacrosse League has games in high-def on TSN2, and the opening-week coverage of Toronto beating Boston was top-notch. With the fast-pace ball movement, the NLL is a must-see in HD, and nine Rock games are available on the deuce this season. All others can be seen on nll.com after the league renewed its broadcast deal with Livestream.

Also getting the HD treatment for the first time is the Australian Open, which features another fast-moving ball.

ian.busby@sunmedia.ca

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