To many British Columbians, Jim Robson is the voice of hockey. Countless hockey fans literally grew up on the game while listening to Robson’s impeccable delivery of the on-ice action whether over the radio or television.

Over the course of his 47-year broadcasting career, Robson called the action for more than 2000 NHL games on radio and television. He broadcast four Stanley Cup Finals and five NHL All-Star Games for Hockey Night in Canada, but is remembered best for over 30 years as the ‘Voice of the Vancouver Canucks,’ broadcasting Canucks games on radio for CKWX and CKNW. When the Canucks jumped to the NHL, he was there for the very first game on October 9th, 1970 doing play-by-play for the HNIC television broadcast. During his entire career he never missed a broadcast due to illness.

In 1952, Robson was only 17 when he walked into CJAV in Port Alberni to pursue a career in radio. Some of his earliest assignments were covering Alberni Athletics Senior A men’s basketball team as they developed into a Canadian powerhouse. He moved to Vancouver in 1956 working for CKWX initially under sports director Bill Stephenson and later moved into that role himself.

For 14 years at CKWX Robson covered the wide spectrum of the Vancouver sports scene including the BC Lions, Vancouver Mounties, and his first work with the Canucks then in the Western Hockey League. When the Canucks joined the NHL in 1970 as an expansion club, Robson moved to CKNW to continue on as the team’s radio play-by-play announcer, and remained at the ‘mighty 980’ for the next 24 years. During his career, he demonstrated versatility and ease with a range of sports including baseball, football, high school sports, lacrosse, basketball, and golf, but his passion was hockey.

That came through across the airwaves and connected with those listening. With perhaps the most distinctive and recognized voice in BC sport, Robson made listeners feel as though they were sitting right there in the arena beside him. As Canuck players and coaches came and went, one of the few constants was Robson, regarded by many as the best play-by-play man in the NHL, something Canucks fans took some solace in even as their team often found themselves near the bottom of the standings.

Wherever the Canucks went, he was there, from the last game played at the Vancouver Forum in 1968 to the first game at the Pacific Coliseum that same year and subsequently, the team’s move to General Motors Place in 1995. Robson’s voice became the soundtrack to every major Canucks moment from the early 1970s to the late 1990s. Twice BC hockey fans hung on his every word as the Canucks reached the Stanley Cup Finals in 1982 and 1994. He also broadcast the first NHL games in Edmonton and Calgary for Hockey Night in Canada, called Bob Nystrom’s Stanley Cup winning overtime goal in 1980, and later worked for CBC, BCTV, VTV and CTV Sportsnet.

His trademark line used to open every broadcast (“Good evening hockey fans and welcome to this National Hockey League game…”) became nearly as well-known as his regular nod to those listening at home: “…at this time it is my pleasure to welcome to the broadcast all the shut-ins, the pensioners, the blind, and all of those people who can’t get out to watch hockey games.”

Robson’s lifelong dedication to his craft has been honoured numerous times including receiving the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award by the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1992 and induction into the BC Hockey Hall of Fame and Canadian Broadcast Hall of Fame in 1998 and 2002 respectively. The media broadcast gondola in Rogers Arena bears his name in tribute.

Robson retired in April 1999 and continues to attend Canucks games to this day as a spectator. He can regularly be found in the arena trading stories with fans and long-time friends. In 2005, he published a popular coffee table book, Hockey Play-by-Play: Around the NHL with Jim Robson, with Vancouver writer Jason Farris.

On the 40th anniversary of the Canucks’ first NHL game in 2011, the original 1970-71 Canuck players featuring such club legends as Orland Kurtenbach and Pat Quinn were honoured on-ice during a pre-game ceremony at a sold-out Rogers Arena. The crowd saved perhaps the loudest ovation of the night for Robson, the man who broadcast more Canuck games than any other and who remains among the most beloved figures in BC sport history.

Written and researched by Jason Beck, Curator of the BC Sports Hall of Fame.