The voice that brought so many Halifax hockey games to life has fallen silent.
Pat Connolly, a long-time broadcaster with the Halifax Mooseheads and well-known news and sports columnist, passed away Tuesday morning after a long battle with cancer. He was 84.
“He was an icon,” said John Moore, who broadcasts the Mooseheads games on News 95.7 and who worked with Connolly for many years.
“He was someone I aspired to be like, the way he conducted himself. Just a genuine, caring man who loved being around sport.
“In the last year I had the chance to tell Pat just what he meant to me.”
Originally from Sydney, Connolly began his career in journalism at the Cape Breton Post after graduating high school in 1945.
He then moved to Halifax to write for the Chronicle-Herald, and began working with CJCH Radio and CBC television as their first sports host in 1954.
After spending a few years in other media rooms across Canada, Connolly returned to Halifax in 1967 and eventually became the voice of American Hockey League teams such as the Nova Scotia Voyageurs, Cape Breton Oilers and Halifax Citadels.
He also continued as a columnist for the Halifax Daily News, Chronicle-Herald and other publications across Canada.
“He was capable of being the broadcaster with the great voice and great questions, but he also was a tremendous writer,” Moore said of Connolly, a member of the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame.
“He was rare in that sense.”
Connolly was also, for 15 years, the public address announcer for all Mooseheads home games, beginning with the team’s inaugural season in 1994-95.
The Metro Centre press box was named after him following his retirement.
“I think the Mooseheads and everyone associated with our team has lost a real friend today,” said Mooseheads majority owner Bobby Smith
“He leaves behind a great legacy. And you know, he’ll be missed.”
The province also offered its condolences Tuesday, with Deputy Premier Frank Corbett calling Connolly “a great man with a passion for sports across Nova Scotia and the Maritimes.”
The Mooseheads will pay tribute to Connolly with a special ceremony prior to their home game against the Chicoutimi Sagueneens on Friday night. Game time is 7 p.m.
Halifax council takes time to remember Connolly
Halifax regional councillors observed a moment of silence at the opening of Tuesday’s meeting in honour of Connolly.
Coun. Gloria McCluskey asked for the tribute for Connolly, who she described as a “fighter to the end.”
“He was Mr. Hockey,” McCluskey told council. “I’ve listened to a lot of games, and never heard anybody who could broadcast like Pat could.”
“Very few people come down the road as special as Pat Connolly,” added Mayor Mike Savage