Bill Davidge will always be a Canadian. Dunville, Ontario, is his home, and that's where he fell in love with hockey. But Davidge also has a lot of Ohio in his veins. He played college hockey for the Ohio State Buckeyes in the '70s and keeps the Scarlet and Gray near and dear to his heart. He led Miami Universityâ€™s hockey team as the head coach in the late '80s and taught there as a professor. Now, Davidge's astute color analysis complements George Matthews' spirited play-by-play on the Blue Jackets radio network. Davidge, a five-year member of the CBJ radio team, is the subject of this week's "Q&A with the CBJ."
(CBJ.com) – Q: You've been around hockey your whole life. What is it about the game you love the most?
(Bill) – A: I think it's because [hockey] was a part of my life growing up. As a kid living in Canada, you had one thing in mind when you watched "Hockey Night" at eight o'clock on Saturday nights: you wanted to be a hockey player. Having a chance to go through juniors, I was able to get my education paid for as an undergraduate here at Ohio State and got my master's degree paid for at Miami University. I had part of my doctorate program paid for, as well, through the game of hockey. Then, I was able to make a living at it, not only as an assistant coach, a head coach, a scout in player development, and now as a broadcaster. It's been a dream come true for me to do something like that.
(CBJ.com) – Q: Tell us about your family growing up in Ontario.
(Bill) – A: Well, I've got an older sister that's nine years older and an older brother that's five years older. I've got a younger brother that's eight years younger, so it's spread out, and I had a chance to follow the lead of my older brother. What's interesting is that he never played hockey. He was a baseball player, a very good one, in fact. He represented Canada several times, and I went on and played more baseball, actually, than I did hockey. I won two Canadian junior baseball championships, and I was a pitcher and played shortstop, so I played more baseball than anything else because of my brother's influence.
(CBJ.com) – Q: Hockey and baseball are obviously very different, but what are the similarities?
(Bill) – A: To me, it's the competitiveness. If I played any other position besides pitcher and shortstop, I don't know if I'd play [baseball] because it's one of those boring games. Hockey, you're intrigued with every shift you have. Each shift is going to be a little bit different. In baseball when you pitched, you threw it and it was you and the batter–almost like the game of golf that I play today.
(CBJ.com) – Q: Who is more like a goaltender: the pitcher or the catcher?
(Bill) – A: The catcher (laughing.) Both have the tools of ignorance, (or must wear protective gear), let's be honest.
(CBJ.com) – Q: What's your favorite memory broadcasting for the CBJ, and how did you get the job?
(Bill) – A: The first game I ever did. That was my favorite moment. I had never dreamed of being a broadcaster, to be honest with you. I had done some things part-time when I was scouting and working player development with the Florida Panthers. I had known Doug (MacLean) since his Detroit (Red Wings) days. One thing led to the next. I came to the Blue Jackets in the capacity of player development and as a scout. When the radio opportunity came up, Doug asked me if I had any interest in it, and I said, 'Sure.'
(CBJ.com) – Q: What was your favorite Ohio State hockey memory?
(Bill) – A: I think it was just signing my letter of intent. There were a lot of schools after me, University of Pennsylvania, Harvard, and Cornell.
(CBJ.com) – Q: Ivy League? You must be a pretty smart guy.
(Bill) – A: (Chuckling) Yeah, I was a pretty solid student. I had a chance to go, really, wherever I wanted to. But Ohio State came knocking at the door, and it wasn't going to cost me a penny. The Ivy League at that time didn't give too much financial aid, and it would have cost me $500 to go to Harvard. My dad was a mechanic, and my mom was a housewife, so we didn't have a whole lot. $500 back then was a lot of money. It's great to think that from tenth grade on, I never had to ask my parents for a dollar because in junior hockey we had our expenses all paid for.
I wanted to go west, and I had always heard of the Ohio State Buckeyes football, so when I signed that letter of intent, that was the best day of my career.
(CBJ.com) – Q: Who's been your best interview?
(Bill) – A: Gordie Howe. Gordie Howe and Bobby Hull were two of my idols. Gordie was always a guy that when I played junior hockey, we played in the same building–the old Olympia (Stadium) in Detroit. He would also come in our locker room after our game and congratulate us. I just still remember that as a player, and I always watched him play. I always wore No. 9, so having a guy like Gordie Howe as one of my idols was certainly a pleasure to interview him.
(CBJ.com) – Q: Do you have any funny, on-air blooper stories?
(Bill) – A: Oh yeah. (In the Blue Jackets' second or third season), one night at home, George Matthews got so excited he knocked the headset off his head and it fell into the crowd in front of us. From then on I've kept telling him that we need to put a strap on across his shoulders and everything else just to keep him in check.