by Mike Machnik/CHN Senior Editor
Tuesday was a sad day for everyone who loves college sports. Longtime writer Bob Monahan, who wrote primarily for the Boston Globe over several decades and covered hockey for many years, passed away at the age of 75 from pneumonia.
Anyone involved in covering college hockey in New England, probably even throughout the country, knew Bob Monahan. He could be found at a game almost any night in winter, wearing his trademark green cap. He loved the sport of college hockey and college sports in general. He was honored during his career by both the ECAC and Hockey East with media awards.
My favorite memory of him comes from early in my broadcasting career, quite a few years ago now, while serving as a color analyst. One of the color man's tasks is spending time beforehand to find interviews for the two intermissions during the broadcast and then conducting the interviews. I had bumped into Bob a few times, been introduced to him by various people but not talked with him much.
However, with his experience and knowledge of the game, along with how friendly and down to earth he seemed, I knew he would be a great interview.
I should also say this: Bob was Irish — very Irish, and he spoke with a heavy Irish brogue, the likes of which you don't hear much anymore. I didn't know this before I asked Bob to come on the air. I'm part Irish, my mother is quite Irish, but I'd never come into contact with someone who had a heavy Irish accent before.
I'll never forget that feeling of asking the first question — who knows what it was, probably something about the game that night — and Bob smiled and went right into what I'm sure was a really insightful, probably even humorous, long answer — except for one problem.
I could not understand a word he said.
I did my best to get through the rest of the segment until it was time for the next break — and Bob kept giving what I'm sure were terrific answers to my questions. I just wish I knew what they were.
Finally, we went to break, and I shook Bob's hand and thanked him for coming on. And while he was without a doubt one of the nicest people I've ever had the pleasure of meeting over the years, and undoubtedly had already forgotten more about college hockey than I would ever know, I had one thought as he left the booth: that was not only the first, but almost certainly the last time I would ever have Bob on the air.
As time passed, I could understand him a little better, and as I said, he was always kind and gracious whenever I'd run into him, which happened several times a year. Even at the time, as a much younger person back then getting going in this field, it always meant a lot to me that someone like Bob would take the time to say hello and help you out if he could. He didn't care who you were. That was just the way he was.
I've told that story to quite a few people, and the ones who have been around a lot longer than me and knew Bob for many years, they can quickly see where it is going. I don't know for sure, but I can't remember noticing Bob being interviewed on any other broadcasts, so for all I know I'm the only one who ever attempted it. Because everyone else knew better.
It's a story that makes me laugh every time I think of it, and others too, so that has to be a good thing.
Goodbye, Mono. We miss you already.