Wilson, who received the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award in 1987, inducting him into the broadcasting wing of the Hockey Hall of Fame, will be honored by the Boston Bruins organization prior to the start of Saturday’s matinee game against the New York Rangers.
“I’m really shocked by the announcement,” Wilson said Thursday on the Bruins flagship radio station, 98.5 The Sports Hub.
“It means a great deal. It means that that’s going to be there for a while I think. And a lot of people are going to ask questions about it and there are going to be some answers for them.”
Prior to the start of the game, the Bruins will dedicate their home radio broadcast booth to Wilson by renaming it the "Bob Wilson Radio Booth." The Bruins will also install a silver microphone encased in a black and gold frame on the TD Garden’s level 9 façade beneath the home radio broadcast booth, which will be permanently displayed.
Following the dedication, the Bruins will honor Wilson on-ice where he will drop the ceremonial first puck. He will then head up to his newly dedicated radio booth to serve as 98.5’s first intermission guest commentator alongside current play-by-play announcer Dave Goucher and color analyst Bob Beers.
Earlier this week, both Goucher and Beers along with NESN television personalities Jack Edwards and Andy Brickley took the time to speak about Wilson’s career and the honor the Bruins are bestowing upon him.
“It brought me back to my youth when I talked to him, because I went to sleep listening to his voice,” Brickley said.
“Especially when the Bruins were traveling on the road out west, Western Canada, you knew you had to be up at quarter-of-five for practice in the morning but you wanted to stay until that final buzzer of the third period of the Bruins game and Bob was calling it.”
Wilson began his career in 1962 when he joined WHDH (now WEEI) as a staff announcer. From 1964-1967, he was the B’s color announcer alongside Bill Harrington. He took over the play-by-play role from 1967-1969.
“Bob Wilson on the air was a virtuoso. Incredible baritone voice, but his dynamic range was all the way from a toy piano at the high end to a ship's horn at the low end,” NESN play-by-play announcer Edwards said.
“His ability to use his voice as a musical instrument, I think is unparalleled in the history of broadcasting. You didn’t even have to understand the English language to know how urgent the situation was for the Boston Bruins just by his intonation, his tempo and his vocal tone.”
After a short exit from Boston for St. Louis from 1969-1971, Wilson returned to Boston and WBZ to his post of play-by-play announcer until 1994. During that span, Wilson called the 1972 Stanley Cup, and his call is forever embedded in the memories of Bruins fans.
“Well Bob Wilson was one heck of a person, I’ll tell you. I just enjoyed myself working with him. He got me the job to be his color man on the radio. I thought it might be for a year or two, and I think it was almost like twenty years,” said Bruins legend Johnny “Chief” Bucyk, Boston’s road services coordinator and a former radio partner with Wilson.
“I can’t say enough about Bob. He was a great broadcaster, he’s one of the few guys in broadcasting who knew everybody by their first and last name. I just don’t know how he did it, he just had such a great memory and for him to call the plays, he never missed too many of them.”
The current Bruins announcers, Bob Beers and Dave Goucher, walk in Wilson’s footsteps every time they call a B’s game, and the honor is not lost on them.
“Obviously some pretty big shoes to fill, we kind of realize that responsibility every time we go on the air or go in the booth. You realize how many people that Bob Wilson touched when he did the games,” said Beers.
“And people look back fondly of their childhood memories of listening to Bruins’ games and having Bob Wilson bring that game to them and be able to feel like they were really there.”
Goucher added, “When I thought about, when I got the Boston Bruins radio job and kind of filling the path or trailing in the path that he had blazed before all of us here.
“It can be intimidating when you think about, and here’s somebody who is in the Hall of Fame and so well respected and so good at what he did.”