COLUMBUS, Ohio – Simply put: the timing was right for George Matthews.
One of the most recognizable faces and voices in Blue Jackets history made the decision to move on to the next chapter of his life today, officially stepping away as the team’s radio voice after 12 seasons.
Matthews will relinquish full-time radio play-by-play duties with the team, but plans to call a limited number of Blue Jackets games during the 2013-14 season and will take part in future team initiatives.
Matthews called the 1,000th game of his NHL career this season when the Blue Jackets played the Phoenix Coyotes on Feb. 16 at Jobing.com Arena – a deserving milestone for a man who has enjoyed a remarkable career that began years ago as a part-time broadcaster on Prince Edward Island.
“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,” Matthews said in a statement issued by the team. “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.”
A schoolteacher turned broadcaster of 37 years, Matthews' career began in maritime Canada calling games for little to no pay, eventually landing a job with the Prince Edward Island Senators of the AHL. His longtime friend and former Blue Jackets president/GM Doug MacLean gave him his first opportunity at an NHL job in 1998, and as the cliche goes, the rest was history.
Matthews has called games for 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 also teamed with current Blue Jackets television analyst Bill Davidge for eight seasons.
With Matthews’ retirement comes a new chapter for Blue Jackets radio, and Bob McElligott will assume the full-time play-by-play duties beginning in 2013-14.
McElligott, who has served as the radio analyst and paired with Matthews since the 2009-10 season, has an established background in play-by-play and called games for the Syracuse Crunch (AHL) for nine years before coming to Columbus.
“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 Larry Hoepfner, Blue Jackets Executive Vice President of Business Operations. “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.”