Monday, June 13, 2011

An Oral History of Peter Puck





Steve Armitage, Broadcaster: Brian McFarlane was a very glib broadcaster, very smooth, came from a private radio background and slipped into television very easily. He invented [the Hockey Night in Canada cartoon character] Peter Puck … and he’ll go to his grave as Brian McFarlane - Inventor of Peter Puck.

Brian McFarlane, Color Commentator
: Hanna-Barbera created Peter Puck. I saw the potential for Peter Puck quite quickly and I had to introduce him on each game. I asked Hanna-Barbera if I could do a book about Peter Puck and we did Peter Puck: Love That Hockey Game. It sold pretty well. I asked them if I could buy the Canadian rights to Peter Puck, which I did. Eventually I garnered the worldwide rights to Peter Puck.

Steve Armitage
: To explain the game the way Peter Puck explained it, it was pretty rudimentary. We all assumed as kids having played hockey that we all knew the game, understood the game, but that was designed to reach a younger audience. To reach an audience that wasn’t as familiar with the game as we were.

Jim Robson, Play by Play: The Peter Puck thing had mixed reviews.

Brian McFarlane: I think the reaction was positive.

Bill Good, Broadcaster: I was never personally a big fan of it.


Steve Armitage
: Well, it was considered kind of a joke. In terms of the “jocks” that were part of Hockey Night in Canada - I don’t think it was appreciated.

Frank Selke Jr, Vice President: When it first came aboard, I think that it was genuinely appreciated. The first go around, it worked okay. Then you-know-who acquired the rights to it and it became a horse of a different color. It’s one of the issues that I have with Brian … The first go round of Peter Puck when we first started using it, it was, I think, quite well-received, although there were a lot of old dyed-in-the-wool old-time fans who thought this was crap … It was different and it worked for a while. I don’t like the fact that it’s still around. Everything has its time and place. Once Brian got his hands on it, it was an issue we had to deal with all the time. He was constantly trying to sell it and being a real pain in the ass about it.

Ronnie Schell, Voice of Peter Puck: I think it was on for four years wasn’t it? I can still do the voice and get up in the register and say, “Love that hockey!” How I got that was – I was doing a whole bunch of stuff like Wait Til Your Father Gets Home over at Hanna-Barbera Studios. A producer came to me and said, “Would you like to do Peter Puck?” I said, “Well, what is it?” He said, “It’s a little puck that explains hockey.” It was originally NBC’s idea because they wanted to explain hockey to Americans. Well, the secret is that I didn’t [know anything about hockey] either! As I got the scripts, I learned about hockey. The problem was for four years I would go on shows and they would interview me. “So, you’re Peter Puck! How about those Kings, hey? Aren’t they great?” “Um, yes.” “What do you think of the way the left winger…” I was at a total loss for years … I was totally in the dark … whenever I did a radio show they thought I was an expert on ice hockey. They’d ask me these detailed questions and I would not know a thing of what I was talking about.

1 comment:

Dave Mackey said...

Hi, Kliph. Just happened upon this admittedly old post, and I wanted to correct the date - Peter Puck premiered in 1973, for NBC's NHL coverage. It wasn't until later in the 70's that Hockey Night in Canada picked it up where it had a much longer run.

Peter Puck's dirty little secret? There are only FOUR episodes of the show.