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Q&A with the CBJ: Danny Gare

by Staff Writer / Columbus Blue Jackets
Jackets fans, meet Danny Gare. The team’s color analyst for television broadcast on FSN Ohio, Gare played 13 seasons in the NHL between 1974 and 1988 for the Buffalo Sabres, the Detroit Red Wings and the Edmonton Oilers. In fact, the former forward from British Columbia sits atop the Sabres’ career goals list with 267, notching two 50-goal seasons. Before coming to Columbus, Danny became a fixture on the Sabres broadcast team for several years until 2004. He has joined animated play-by-play man Jeff Rimer this year to form a dynamic duo that brings Your Team’s action right into your living rooms.

The astute analyst not only has tickets for every game but also is “Tickets” for every game. A unique nickname? We thought so. Read about the moniker’s origin in this week’s “Q&A with the CBJ.”

( – Q: Danny, what is it about hockey that you love the most?

(Danny) – A: Well, I played it ever since I was four years old. We grew up in a skating family. My sisters were figure skaters. My brothers were hockey players. My dad used to play hockey. I guess what I really like about hockey the most is that it breeds life skills, teaches you discipline, teaches you honesty and integrity, and to me, it’s probably one of the toughest sports to play when you have to play on thin blades on different ice surfaces. It’s the challenge of learning how to skate and learning how to use a stick as a tool. I think the other thing I like is that I’ve never met a bad person in the game of hockey. Everybody seems to have respect for each other and respect for the game.

( – Q: What was the highlight of your hockey career, and what would you say was the highlight of your broadcast career?

(Danny) – A: The highlight of my hockey career? I have a couple. I was fortunate to score a goal on my first shot in 18 seconds, and that was against Bobby Orr and the Boston Bruins. I remember once I had to get a hat trick in the last game to get 50 goals, and I did it. Those were obviously two high marks. I think, obviously, playing in the Stanley Cup finals was a big thing for me in my rookie season (in the NHL). Broadcasting-wise, working with Jeff Rimer has been a highlight, and I say that seriously. He’s really taught me a lot in different ways. I haven’t done the Western Conference that much, so that challenge has been strong for me, and I’ve really enjoyed that part of it. Coming from Buffalo, when I worked with Rick Jeanneret would be another highlight. He’s probably one of the best in the business, and he taught me a lot.

( – Q: What made you more nervous, your NHL debut or your broadcast debut?

(Danny) – A: (Laughing) NHL, by far. I lined up against Wayne Cashman, Phil Esposito, Ken Hodge and Bobby Orr, and I think it was Gerry Cheevers in the nets in front of 16 or 17,000 in the old auditorium in Buffalo. Boy, I was so nervous, but it turned out pretty well when I scored that goal!

The broadcast side of it…I think you’re always a little nervous. I remember doing an interview with Kevin Lowe after I left the Oilers (retired from playing). I started interviewing Kevin, and a bunch of the guys were in the room watching me do it–it was my first interview with the Sabres (broadcast team)–Gretzky and Messier and all of them were in the room watching, and I tried to ask Kevin a question but kept getting a one-word answer. “Yes” or “No.” I finally said, “Kevin, if we don’t put a mic in front of you, you can talk for minutes!” And he said, “Oh, Danny, we’re just playing with you. We thought we’d get you on your first time.” I was sweating, perspiration all over the place!

( – Q: Have you had any big bloopers?

(Danny) – A: I’ve never sworn on broadcast, but I’ve come close a few times. You have to watch yourself. You may call the wrong name once in a while, but that’s normal. One time when I was in Buffalo working on the radio, we were in Madison Square Garden (in New York), and they were fixing the press box, so we had to sit up in the upper deck. They set a table up for us, and they knew we were the visiting team, so they were kind of being jerks with us. The Sabres scored a goal. I remember everybody stood up, but I couldn’t see the goal. We had a little monitor–remember, we’re on radio–so I go “Watch how Turgeon goes wide! See how Mogilny goes to the net!” Rick Jeanneret waves his hands as if to say, “They can’t see.”

( – Q: If you didn’t play hockey or cover the sport, what would you be doing right now?

(Danny) – A: I’d probably be working back at the supermarket in my hometown of Nelson (British Columbia). Hockey’s been everything for me. It’s been my life. It continues to be, and I love every minute of it.

( – Q: What’s the hardest thing about being a broadcaster?

(Danny) – A: I think it’s getting your thought across in a short period of time and trying to explain things to the viewer. You want to make sure what you say is technically right but also that it’s said so that people can understand it. Sometimes, you can be too technical for the average fan. We’re not coaches up there. We’re more or less teachers of the game.

The other thing is my eyes are getting bad, so it’s tough to see numbers up high. Maybe I ought to get glasses (laughing)!

( – Q: Have you ever offended a player?

(Danny) – A: I’m sure somewhere along the road I have. I’ve never had a player come up to me and want to punch me, though. Being a former player, I know how much it used to tick me off if someone said something bad about me. I always look at it this way: there’s a good play for every bad play. Every player knows when they’ve made a mistake. I don’t think I have to enforce that.

( – Q: You’re known as “Tickets” throughout the league. How did you get that nickname?

(Danny) – A: I’m from Nelson, British Columbia, a beautiful little town in the interior of the province, and I told all my buddies the year I was drafted that if I made the team, the Sabres, and played in Vancouver, they could all come down. We played in Vancouver in late October, and eight busloads came down from Nelson. I ended up buying them all tickets. It cost me like $3,800 or something, and that was back in ’75. That was big dollars, but I didn’t mind it because I told them they could come down. And then when I played in Buffalo, the players only got two tickets, and the arena was always sold out. I was always giving my two tickets out to different people. It was tickets here, tickets there. Larry Carriere, a former defenseman for the Sabres, started calling me “tickets,” and it seemed to stick. I need about 60 tickets when Buffalo comes into town now, so the ticket guys downstairs here in Columbus know me already.

( – Q: Describe Danny Gare in one word.

(Danny) – A: Solid.

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