Canuck public address announcer’s home goal calls have raised the spirits of hockey fans
By Brandon Yip, Senior Columnist
Vancouver Canucks’ PA announcer, Al Murdoch, has been announcing Canuck home games since 2011. Hockey fans are likely very familiar with his booming voice that resonates inside Rogers Arena during every Canucks home game.
However, Murdoch has not been able to sit high above in his usual perch at Rogers Arena due to the pandemic. But he has kept himself occupied filming and posting goal announcements on his Instagram from his Port Moody home. Fans of the NBA’s failed Vancouver Grizzlies will remember Murdoch being the team’s PA announcer for six seasons (1995-2001). Prior to his gig with the Grizzlies, Murdoch spent almost 20 years in radio. He has also been a full-time working voice actor for the last 20 years. In addition, during the 2019-20 NHL season, Murdoch was hired by the NHL to do the PA announcing for the Winter Classic and Stadium Series games.
Murdoch stated that after the NHL season was postponed due to the pandemic on March 12, he was starting to miss announcing Canuck goals at Rogers Arena. So, he decided to post a couple of goal announcements on the day the Canucks were supposed to have played the Winnipeg Jets on March 15 at Rogers Arena. “Then I thought, why don’t [I] announce a couple Canucks goals like I would if they actually happened that night and post them on social media to bring fans a little bit of the spirit of hockey back into their lives?” Murdoch said in an email interview with the Other Press.
The response was incredible as Murdoch posted goal calls on his Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok accounts. Murdoch then decided to make his goal announcements more inclusive and bring Canuck fans into them. “That’s how the ‘personalized’ goal announcements were born,” Murdoch said. “It was a chance for fans to hear their name, family member’s names, co-workers, teammate’s names etc., in a goal announcement just like I would do it at Rogers Arena.”
Murdoch announces goals using the name of the fan (Instagram or Twitter handle, etc.) as the goal scorer, then announces the assists (subsequent friends or family members)—and giving the time of the goal while accentuating it with a Ric Flair, “Woo!” Murdoch said he has received thousands of requests from all over the world in the four-and-a-half months he did them right until the Canucks returned to the ice for their play-in series against the Minnesota Wild.
When Murdoch started announcing games for the Canucks in 2011, he had shared PA duties with John Ashbridge, the longtime Canuck PA announcer and veteran news voice at CKNW radio. Ashbridge gradually eased out of the PA role before retiring, and Murdoch would take over PA duties full-time. Sadly, Ashbridge died of cancer in June 2018 at age 71, and Murdoch says Ashbridge was a close friend and mentor. He misses him dearly and thinks about “Ash” often.
Notably, a special plaque in Ashbridge’s honour has been placed outside the game presentation booth on level 500 at Rogers Arena. “He was small in stature, but bigger than life,” Murdoch said. “I knew John for over 30 years before he passed away and to have a person like him as a friend and mentor is something I will always be grateful for. I learned so much from him about broadcasting, writing, PA announcing, but more importantly respecting what you do and the people around you. No one could ever fill the shoes of Ash as PA announcer for the Vancouver Canucks, but my goal has always been to carry on his legacy at the rink and in the community,” he said.
Murdoch says it has not been easy being at home during the pandemic. But his unique goal calls he has posted on social media have helped to keep his spirits up, while also giving joy and happiness to hockey fans. “It was great connecting with Canucks nation and hopefully those announcements put a smile on people’s faces and brought hockey fans together during a time when we couldn’t watch the game and the team we love,” Murdoch said.
Murdoch hopes to one day make a return to Rogers Arena to carry on his PA duties announcing Canuck home games. Unfortunately, the pandemic has caused many teams to stop having fans in sports arenas and stadiums.
In the end, Murdoch realizes that there are more important things in life than professional sports: “The final games, including [six] at Rogers Arena, were ultimately cancelled, so I haven’t had the privilege and joy of doing what I love since then and unfortunately couldn’t be part of the Canucks amazing playoff run in my role as PA announcer. That was difficult but what’s going on around us is so much bigger than sports.”