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George Matthews to step away from full-time radio duties with Blue Jackets

by Blue Jackets Staff / Columbus Blue Jackets

The Columbus Blue Jackets announced today that George Matthews has decided to step away from his duties as the full-time play-by-play announcer on the Blue Jackets Radio Network to return to his home on Prince Edward Island. While Matthews is relinquishing the role he has played with the club for 12 seasons, he will continue to be involved with the organization by calling a limited number of games during the 2013-14 season and assisting in other initiatives on behalf of the club.

“This has been a very difficult decision, but one I have been contemplating for some time and one that is in the best interest of my family and me,” said Matthews. “I want to thank the McConnell family and Doug MacLean for giving me the opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream of calling games in the NHL, as well as all of the players, coaches and staff I have worked with over the years and the great Blue Jackets fans who have made this a truly memorable part of my life.”

Matthews joined the Blue Jackets prior to the inaugural 2000-01 season and called 1,032 regular season, pre-season and Stanley Cup Playoff games over that 13-year period. He called his first Blue Jackets game on Sept. 15, 2000 at Mellon Arena as Columbus faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in its inaugural preseason game. He called his 1,000th game on Feb. 16, 2013 at Phoenix’s Arena with his final call coming in the Jackets’ season-ending 3-1 win over the Nashville Predators on April 27, 2013 at Nationwide Arena.

“George Matthews is synonymous with the Columbus Blue Jackets and one of the most popular figures in our team’s history,” said club Executive Vice President of Business Operations Larry Hoepfner. “We have been very lucky to have him and look forward to his continued association with the club for many years to come.”

Prior to joining the Blue Jackets, Matthews’ 37-year broadcasting career included play-by-play work for the American Hockey League’s Prince Edward Island (PEI) Senators, as well as the Canadian Intercollegiate Athletic Union (CIAU) National Championships, the Royal Bank Cup (Canada’s Junior A Hockey Championship) and the Allen Cup (Canada’s senior hockey championship). Matthews teamed with current Blue Jackets television analyst Bill Davidge for eight seasons and since 2009 has worked with Bob McElligott.

“George will always be a Blue Jacket and we are extremely grateful to him for his passion, commitment and tireless work both in the broadcast booth and in our community over the past 13 years,” said Blue Jackets President Mike Priest. “George’s unbridled enthusiasm for our team and our sport made an indelible mark on everyone he came into contact with during his time here and we wish him all the best as he moves on to the next chapter of his life.”

McElligott, who has partnered with Matthews since 2009-10, will assume play-by-play duties on radio for the club during the 2013-14 season.

“While George has a very special and unique way of calling games, we are fortunate to have an accomplished broadcaster in Bob McElligott who is ready to step into this role,” said Hoepfner. “He is an experienced play-by-play announcer and will bring his own style and knowledge of the game and our league to our fans.”

A veteran of nearly two decades in the broadcast booth, McElligott was the play-by-play voice of the Syracuse Crunch, the Blue Jackets’ AHL affiliate, from 2000-09. In addition to calling the action on radio and television for the Crunch, he produced a regular Crunch feature for the Blue Jackets Radio Network and called play-by-play action during several Blue Jackets games during that time.

McElligott, a native of Somerset, Pennsylvania, was also the radio and television voice of the Syracuse Chiefs of the International Baseball League. During his time in Syracuse, he also hosted a weekly one-hour radio and was a morning sports anchor on radio stations WSEN-FM, WFBL-AM and WOLF-FM. In addition, he broadcast Syracuse University football and basketball games for, as well as a variety of college and high school sports for Time Warner Cable. Prior to his arrival in Syracuse, McElligott worked with the ECHL’s Johnstown Chiefs and spent six years calling baseball action in the Carolina League (Single A) with Kinston, Wilmington, Prince William and Salem.

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