The legendary Joe Bowen,
Photo credit: Toronto Star

Joe Bowen reveals the play call he never got to make on Matthews' 70th

Published April 19, 2024 at 11:29

The legendary Joe Bowen has been calling Leafs games for more than 4 decades and has been responsible for some of the best Maple Leafs play calls in history. Unfortunately, there's one call he didn't get to make this season, and it was a good one.

Bowen has called more than 3,000 games in his illustrious career, which has spanned over 40 years after he made his debut back in October of 1982, replacing sportscaster Ron Hewat. There are few people who understand anguish better than Bowen, who has never been able to call a Stanley Cup win for the Leafs. There's another call, though, that he wishes he could have made this season. Auston Matthews' 70th goal of the season.

After scoring 69 goals heading into the final two games of the season, Auston Matthews appeared to be a shoo-in to score #70 against either Florida or Tampa Bay at the tail-end of the season, right before the playoffs, when teams' defenses were down. Unfortunately, Tampa and Florida both defended Matthews extremely hard in the final two games in an attempt to play spoiler to a very special moment. They succeeded, much to the chagrin of Bowen, who still calls games on the radio feeds for Sportsnet and TSN.

On Friday morning, Bowen appeared as a guest on TSN 1050's "First Up", and one of the first things he revealed was the line that he had prepared for his play call, had Matthews scored #70 against Florida or Tampa. It was a doozie.

"You know what I wanted to say after that, if [Matthews had scored 70 goals]? I wanted to say 'Twelve men have walked on the moon. Nine have scored 70 goals in the National Hockey League'. I thought it was a great line!

That's a hell of a stat, when you think about it."

Bowen also took the opportunity to take a fun poke at former Leafs defenseman and TSN radio personality Carlo Colaiacovo as well, asking what the chances were of Colaiacovo ever walking on the moon or scoring 70 goals, which the guys seemed to enjoy.

The legendary Leafs commentator also took the time to discuss the upcoming Leafs/Bruins series on the program, revealing that he has faith in Ilya Samsonov after having beaten the Tampa Bay Lightning in last year's playoffs. Bowen said he views the Bruins and Leafs as matching up "pretty even". He also believes that the Leafs are the much more physical, nasty team, which he believes will serve them well in the series.

As far as X-factors go, Bowen believes that Matthew Knies will be a real difference-maker for the Leafs in the series.

"I think [Knies] might be a bit of an X-factor to the series as well. He's big, he's strong, he's had a great rookie season. I think that that might be one of the guys to kind of circle and say 'here comes some secondary scoring that's going to be important.'"

For Matthews, he was understandably disappointed to have missed the 70-goal plateau by just one lone tally - especially when he was able to direct 24 pucks on goal following goal #69. Obviously, not all scoring chances are created equal, and there were a good number of those shots that were low-percentage scoring chances, but Matthews did also have some Grade A scoring opportunities over his last two games, including rapping at least 2 or 3 pucks off of posts and cross-bars, having the goaltender beat cleanly.

Still, if Matthews wants to hit 70, he'll now have to start fresh next season. Bowen believes that even if Matthews doesn't hit 70 next season, he'll hit it within the next 3 or 4 years. I tend to agree.

April 19   |   477 answers
Joe Bowen reveals the play call he never got to make on Matthews' 70th

Do you think Auston Matthews will ever score 70 goals in a single season?

Yes, next year15632.7 %
Yes, at some point in the future19540.9 %
No, 70 is just too high now9219.3 %
70? I wouldn't bet against him for 80!347.1 %
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