Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Iconic Canadian sportscaster dies

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TORONTO -- The man considered Canada's ambassador of amateur sports, who brought football, figure skating and the Olympic Games into the nation's living rooms, has died.

Johnny Esaw died Saturday in Toronto after having respiratory problems, his former employer CTV said Sunday.

The award-winning sportscaster was a longtime member of Canada's Sports Hall of Fame, which describes him as "a pioneer, an innovator and a fervent supporter of our nation's sporting achievements."

He was inducted into the Order of Canada in 2004.

Born in North Battleford, Sask., Esaw started his radio career in his home province before moving east.

He made the switch to TV in the 1960s, becoming sports director for CTV's Toronto station.

The beloved broadcaster also convinced the network to carry figure skating at a time when hockey was king, saying the sport would appeal to viewers. The move earned him the recognition of the Canadian Figure Skating Association, which continues to dole out a bursary in his name.

Esaw rose through the ranks until landing the role of vice-president of CTV Sports in 1974, a job he held for 16 years before he retired.

He was also well known as a CFL broadcaster and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1984.

 

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 8, 2013 C11

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