Biography

Pioneer - Member of CAB Hall of Fame

Irvin, James Dickinson "Dick"

(1932- )

Dick Irvin began his career as an accountant. He ended it as sports director for CFCF-TV Montreal and the longest-serving member of the Hockey Night in Canada team.

Dick was born in Calgary, the son of Dick and Bertha Irvin. His celebrated father was in Toronto coaching the Toronto Maple Leafs and his mother happened to be visiting her sister in Calgary.

Dick Jr. was raised and educated in Regina and completed his B.Comm. at McGill University in Montreal where his father coached the Montreal Canadiens of the National Hockey League from 1940 to 1955.

Dick Jr. worked for eight years for Shell Oil but always had broadcasting at the back of his mind - and he had the background absorbed by osmosis in a hockey household. Dick Sr. had played in the first professional hockey game broadcast on radio - it was on March 15, 1923 between the Regina Capitals and the Edmonton Eskimos on CKCK Regina - and had coached the first hockey game televised - an October 1952 game in Montreal between the Canadiens and the Chicago Blackhawks, a game carried on CBF-TV, the CBC's first TV station.

Dick didn't become a broadcaster until 1961, four years after his father died, when he was hired as assistant sports director for CFCF-TV and CFCF Radio. CFCF-TV was the Montreal affiliate of the new CTV Television Network. In 1962, Dick became sports director, and he remained in that position until he retired in 1991.

Although working for a private broadcaster, he joined CBC-TV's Hockey Night in Canada in 1966 as a free-lancer. When he retired from CFCF-TV, he continued to broadcast with Hockey Night in Canada. In 1999, after 33 years with the show, he retired from the booth but continued to host historical events and do some interviews.

From 1969 to 1997, Dick also broadcast non-televised games on CFCF Radio, so in that time he broadcast all Canadiens games on either radio or TV.

For 17 years, Dick worked alongside the legendary Danny Gallivan, who retired in 1984, making them possibly the longest-lasting team on a sports show.

Dick's career encompassed far more than hockey. For 20 years he covered golf for CTV; in 1976, the Innsbruck and the Montreal Olympics; in 1980, the Lake Placid Olympics. On radio, he broadcast games of the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League for eight years.

On Labour Day weekend in 1980, Dick, along with former Sakatchewan luminaries Bill Walker, Johnny Esaw, Murray Westgate, Elwood Glover and Earl Cameron, was invited to Regina to participate in Celebrate Saskatchewan - an event that marked the Province's 75th birthday.

Dick wrote six sports books: Now Back to You, Dick (1988); The Habs (1991); Behind the Bench (1993), In the Crease (1995): Tough Calls (1997) and My 26 Stanley Cups (2001).

In 1988, Dick Irvin was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame; in 2004, into the CAB Broadcast Hall of Fame; in 2008, into the CBC Sports Hall of Fame.

Written by Ross McCreath - November, 2004

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