DALLAS — When longtime Komets broadcaster Bob Chase learned he would receive the Lester Patrick Trophy from the United States Hockey Hall of Fame for his outstanding service to the sport, he naturally became quite emotional.
And even though a month has passed since he first learned of the award, presented at a ceremony Monday night in Dallas, he hasn’t become any less emotional about how much it means.
“It’s hard to tell. I have thought about things and I’ve had people who have advocated for me to possibly get into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, which I would have considered an incredible honor,” Chase said. “But the day that my phone rang, it was (NHL) Commissioner (Gary) Bettman and when he told me, I had to stop. Still, same thing today, unbelievable.”
Now 86, he started calling games in Fort Wayne in 1953 and described several opportunities he had to broadcast in the NHL.
The first was with Detroit in the late 1960s, a position that would have been a great fit for the Michigan native. “That would have been my dream job, but I had just accepted a new position with my company and the very day I accepted, they called,” Chase said.
St. Louis was the other possibility, and that opportunity also wasn’t meant to be.
“They wanted me to be there on a Saturday-Sunday to do a series with the Blackhawks and Montreal. It was Friday afternoon and I’m walking out to do the Indiana High School Basketball Championships the next day, which I was committed to,” he said. “I couldn’t leave and as of Monday or Tuesday, the opportunity suddenly disappeared.”
However, he has no regrets and is honored to have called Fort Wayne home for so many years.
“Fort Wayne is a beautiful city to live in, raised all the kids there. We’ve had the same home for 40-something years and there has just been a comfort level,” Chase said. “I’ve never had an aim or a desire to be a star and it’s been a great life. I’ve never regretted it. I’ve had a great, great life in Fort Wayne and look where I am tonight.”
Receiving the Patrick Trophy is a huge honor in itself, but having former Komet Terry Pembroke, who lives in the Dallas area, at Monday’s ceremony, made him even more emotional than when he first learned he would receive the award.
“Terry’s a three-time cancer survivor and he’s here with his daughter. Just got out of the hospital and looks good, same old guy,” Chase said. “He’s just a tough, tough guy. One of the best minor leaguers I ever saw. It’s as thrilling to have him here as it is for me to be here, really good stuff.”
And when interviewed by several media members prior to the ceremony, he offered some simple advice to young broadcasters hoping to one day follow in his footsteps.
“Be who you are. If you can be yourself, project yourself and have a love of it, which will show, you’ll be all right,” Chase said. “Everybody will buy into what you do by your sincerity. As long as you’re yourself, you can do it because you have your own feelings and your own emotions.”
Others also inducted Monday night included Mike Modano, the highest-scoring U.S.-born player in NHL history, longtime New Jersey Devils president and general manager Lou Lamoriello, and player-turned-broadcaster Ed Olczyk.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.