The glory years of the Colorado Avalanche were narrated by the voice of Mike Haynes.
This week, it was announced Haynes has resigned as the Avalanche’s television play-by-play broadcaster. The news was sudden and has yet to be explained. As comforting as Haynes was on the TV broadcasts with Peter McNab during the team’s down years, he made his mark on the radio in the late 1990s after the Avalanche moved to Colorado from Quebec City.
Before TV, he was a great radio guy.
Before the explosion of the internet, the radio crew was a lifeline for fans. Haynes was the always familiar voice driving the action, especially during the playoffs, when many games were only covered on TV nationally (or in 1996, on pay-per-view). Haynes, along with his color commentator Norm Jones, had the only local call for the Avs’ two Stanley Cup Finals victories.
I was five years old during the Avs first season and, from the beginning, I wanted to be Mike Haynes. I loved how he made hockey seem effortless. A great hockey radio announcer has the ability to use his or her voice to match volume and inflection with the play. There’s a big difference between a shot that has no chance to find the net and a shot that’s about to go in. Haynes cadence and enthusiasm drove those calls over the AM radio frequency.
I distinctly remember my favorite Mike Haynes radio call — I unfortunately can’t find a recording of it online. It was a Saturday afternoon game against the Detroit Red Wings in 2003. The Red Wings were attacking.
“Save, SAVE, SAVEEE by Roy. Those were three of the best saves you’ll ever see… Or hear… On the radio.”
I loved that Haynes added rich, off-the-cuff remarks, in-between action.
His 1996 call of Uwe Krupp’s overtime winner to bring home the Stanley Cup stands out for its energy in capturing the moment, while also providing the listeners with all of the relevant information.
His 2001 Stanley Cup call of Joe Sakic handing the Stanley Cup to Ray Bourque will live on forever as the perfect way to capture that emotional moment in NHL history.
A radio play-by-play job involves a ton of mental work. You have to be able to paint a picture for the audience in your head while keeping them informed about the score and previous action. Haynes painted that picture as well as anyone. In fact, when he moved over to TV, I loved that he still had that event-focused style that fits radio better.
In 2013-14, I was the radio announcer for the Denver Cutthroats, a now-defunct minor league hockey team that played in the Denver Coliseum. I remember the first time someone asked me if it was hard to call hockey because the game moves so fast.
I’d never thought about the question because Mike Haynes made the whole thing seem so effortless when I listened growing up. I never matched his talent-level that year, but I tried to emulate the emotion and rigor he brought to the job.
Haynes carried Avalanche fans through two championships and six Western Conference Finals. He shaped the way fans at the time interacted with the team more than anyone whose name is not on the Stanley Cup. He taught us how to pronounce Forsberg and Ozolinsh and Roy.
He shaped that era of Avalanche hockey. It didn’t matter how many times he said it, Avs fans spent years hearing Haynes say, “Joe Sakic with the puck, shot, SCORE. SUPER JOE!”
And no one said it better.