They were two dreams and they were featured concurrently just about every time Dennis Beyak picked up a stick in Winnipegosis.
"As we played ball hockey out on the farm I was always the goaltender AND the play-by-play guy," said Beyak, the new television and radio voice of the Winnipeg Jets. "So, if you want to look back as to where I got my start, maybe that was it."
A 41-year career in sports came full circle for Beyak on Wednesday when the Manitoba product was introduced as the play-by-play man for the Jets. He'll do all 82 games, either on TSN Jets or for Sports Radio 1290 when the televised contests are handled by TSN's national crew or by CBC.
Brian Munz will handle 50-plus games on 1290 when Beyak is in the TV booth, meaning none of the games will be simulcast.
He's worked in broadcast booths all over hockey's map and cursed every loss as executive in the game, too, as the GM for the Saskatoon Blades, Seattle Thunderbirds and Tri-City Americans. As well, Beyak was the chairman of two Memorial Cups, in Saskatoon in 1989 and Seattle in 1992.
Beyak and Munz become the latest in an impressive line of broadcasters who have called Jets games, from Ken (Friar) Nicolson to Curt Keilback to Kelly Moore.
"To be included in a list with this group and with great broadcasters from here like Don Wittman and Cactus Jack Wells and the writings of people like Jack Matheson... it's special," said Beyak.
Interestingly, it's a career that might have taken a different path 16 years ago if not for some sage advice from his wife. Fired by the Tri-Cities Americans -- this, after a good year, Beyak insists -- he had an opportunity to become president of the West Coast Hockey League or head to Edmonton to become the TV voice of the Oilers.
"I was debating between the two of them and my wife said to me, 'Your dream since you were a kid was to do NHL play by play. Why are you even debating this?' " said Beyak. "It was a good question. I took the job in Edmonton and the rest, as they say, is history."
Beyak left a good gig in Toronto as the radio voice of the Maple Leafs for a couple of reasons. First, the radio rights are coming up in a year and it's questionable whether the station he worked for, AM 640, would be able to retain them. And, secondly, the pull to come home was significant.
"Coming back to Manitoba is very special," Beyak said. "I've got lots of friends and relatives here and to be able to be closer to them at this point in my career played a very important part. Now, was it made easier because of some of the things that were going on in Toronto? It probably was.
"But I can't wait to begin here."
Wednesday's announcement was also special for Munz, the voice of the Manitoba Moose for the past five years, and also completes a boyhood dream.
"It's unbelievable," he said. "The weird thing for me is over the last couple of years you think, 'What if the NHL comes back? Would you get the opportunity?' The Moose have a track record that if you've done a good job, you can get that chance.
"I'm not going to lie: over the last six weeks I had some up days and down days not knowing what was going on. But when I got the call... I don't know if it's sunk in yet, but it's sure starting to now.
"It's amazing. I started calling games in junior hockey 17 years ago and today I'm in the National Hockey League."
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