Holy Mackinaw! Son of Leafs announcer Joe Bowen begins broadcasting career in Sudbury
In September, the unmistakable voice of another Bowen will resonate on the Ontario airwaves.
David Bowen, son of legendary Toronto Maple Leafs announcer Joe Bowen, will be in charge from the broadcaster’s booth when the Sudbury Wolves of the Ontario Hockey League take to the ice for their 50th season.
Bowen, 22, is expected to provide play-by-play for more than 30 games in Wolves’ 68-game schedule on community radio station CKLU-FM.
It is a similar path to that of his father. Joe Bowen honed his skills calling Wolves games in the 1970s on CKSO, a now-defunct community radio station based in Sudbury, before landing a role with the Leafs.
The elder Bowen, who was born and raised in Sudbury, has called Leafs games since 1982, earning him the nickname “the voice of the Maple Leafs.”
“The 12-year-old me wouldn’t believe I’m pursuing the same career as my dad, but I’m enjoying every minute so far,” Bowen said.
After a stint as a goaltender with the Sudbury Wolves of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) – Bowen recorded seven games with the Wolves between 2017 and 2021 – and an opportunity with the Laurentian University Voyageurs which never materialized.
Young Bowen said he was ready to bring his own perspective to the game.
“My perspective on what’s happening on the ice is a little different than anyone who hasn’t been in my position,” Bowen said. “So I think that gives me a bit of a head start.”
“The other thing is me and my dad are goalkeepers, and for some reason goalkeepers tend to be the best broadcasters,” he said. “All I’ve done my whole life is just watch the game unfold in front of me and I could tell you what’s going to happen next, every time.”
Although he has no intention of emulating his father’s style, he still turns to the elder Bowen for broadcasting advice.
“If you listen to my dad on the radio, you know where the puck is,” he said. “You know which team has the puck, you know what the score is, you know if a team is on the power play.”
“You can almost visualize the game when my dad calls it on the radio,” he said. “And that’s the point for me, because if you listen to the radio, you want to know who has it and when someone is going to score.”
“You have to build the excitement up to this point.”
But don’t expect to hear David use his father’s well-known catchphrase – “Holy Mackinaw” – to punctuate a dazzling piece.
“‘Holy Mackinaw’ will be reserved for two things for me: one, if Wolves can ever win the Memorial Cup, then maybe I’ll let one go there,” Bowen said.
“And if I ever get my dad’s job, then if the Leafs ever win one, then I’ll let one go over there. But I don’t use that word any other time than those two- the.”
Goalkeepers tend to be better broadcasters.– New Sudbury Wolves presenter David Bowen
Rob Straughan, general manager of CKLU, said it came full circle when station executives first considered bringing Bowen into the broadcast team.
“Bringing the son of one of the great old-timers in Wolves history into the broadcast for the 50th anniversary is definitely a looping moment,” Straughan said. “Bringing a Bowen back to the building felt so good. And we’re just glad he wanted to do it.”
Straughan, who said he still has Wolves broadcasts from when the elder Bowen was broadcasting, said he can’t wait to hear a unique perspective on the ice-level action.
“[David] still has a good relationship with a lot of OHL players and with Wolves, Straughan said. He’s close to their age and he’ll take the buses with them to those games.
“So he has a different perspective, because he just played in the league and he’s friends with some of these guys. It just brings a different angle that a lot of announcers probably don’t have in this league.”
He also has access to a good teacher.
“Couldn’t ask for a better mentor, coach, because he lives with the guy, you know?” Straughan said. “His dad is this country’s most legendary play-by-play radio caller.”
As to whether or not the son will continue down the same path as his father and eventually host games for the Leafs, Bowen said it wouldn’t hurt the organization to give him a chance someday.
“Obviously everyone knows my old man has been calling games for about half a century now and the Leafs haven’t won anything,” Bowen said.
“So I thought I might as well get into the business and hopefully when he’s finished maybe I’ll bring some luck to the team.”