Toronto Sports Media Sit Down With Ray Ferraro

Toronto Sports Media Sit Down With Ray Ferraro


Happy Saturday!

Wow, what a crazy couple of weeks. First Mike in Boston hit a homer with his article talking concussions in the NHL which set off quite a frenzy. Great to see it mentioned in Elliotte Friedman's 30 Thoughts this week, get some love from Michael Grange and McCown did a full session on concussions with Arash Madani (who in my opinion has settled in as the best regular co-host for Bob).

Then there were Changes at Rogers which I thought were fascinating, but the comments in that article were, in my humble opinion, the best we've ever had on this site.

We had slide gate in Tampa when the Blue Jays opened up this week, followed by last night's loss at the Dome taking the Blue Jays to 2-3 on the season.

David Shoalts had a really interesting article on NHL TV ratings as a result of the Cutler departure and what it may mean for NHL games moving forward.

The Leafs are guarantee to finish no worse than second last and can actually finish dead last with a loss tonight or an Edmonton win tonight.

I'll add in some comments on all of that plus my thoughts on the latest article by Rick Westhead either later today or during the week! Westhead has been on fire recently, and I have to say that the funniest comment I've seen from a reader was the one who suggested that TSN hired Westhead simply because TSN lost the NHL rights and wanted him to stir up NHL crap. (yeah right).

Long overdue, but I finally got the chance to "sit down" with Ray Ferraro and ask a few questions. Here we go!:

TSM At what point, if any, during your playing career did you contemplate or even consider a role in the media?

RF: I got traded from NYR to LA in March 1996. I got a call from ESPN to see if I had any interest in working a playoff round from the studio. I guess it went well, and off I went until I retired in 2002

TSM Besides not being part of the locker-room, what’s been the biggest adjustment to being a member of the media from a player

RF: Initially I would say learning how to process the information and what to do with it. How to get point across as quickly as possible

TSM My son and I play a lot of EA’s NHL 16; I mean A LOT. What was it like working on a video game?

RF: It is kinda cool to know so many people play and enjoy the games and my voice is on it. It is long, monotonous at times, to put all that on recorded track. But my biggest kick is that my kids are pretty charged about it.

TSM What specific advice did you give your Landon about playing professional hockey and dealing with the media?

RF: Well there isn't 1 piece of advice, it's been a 15 year ongoing conversation. He watched me, saw what I worked at, and I'm proud that I never talk about work ethic with him. As for media, just try to remember they're doing their job too, even when it's frustrating.

TSM Favorite road cities

RF: LA, Montreal, Boston

TSM You have just a little bit of hockey in your life, when not at a rink or doing something hockey related what is it that you are doing?

RF: I am with my family, 4 boys 27,24,9,6 and Cammi, usually at a soccer pitch or Whitecaps game or at the golf course.

TSM What would surprise my readers the most about you that they probably don’t already know?

RF: Probably a lot. I think fans view people on TV and feel they know them. I'm actually rather shy in unfamiliar settings, I think I'm a bit of a softy for older people and love to sit and listen to them. This comes from my incredible blessing of my parents

TSM If you hadn’t played and then become a member of the media you most likely would have _________________?

RF: I always assumed I would be a teacher, and a coach of kids

TSM Any aspirations or thoughts about joining the coaching or management ranks?

RF: I always wanted to coach and get into management. However when I retired, I got divorced that year and my priorities were my older boys. My whole life had been about my career, and I couldn't pursue a new career without sacrificing time with them. Then time passes, and here I am. I always harbour thoughts of getting into management somehow

TSM Going to make it tough, if you could call a game with any broadcaster from any sport, alive or dead, who would it be?

RF: That's not hard at all…World Series Game 7 from Fenway Park with Vin Scully

TSM Same question from the playing side, if you could play on a team with any player, any sport alive or dead, who would it be?

RF: I would've played 2nd base for the 1975 Red Sox, batted 2nd with Lynn and Rice right behind me.

TSM If you didn’t pick a hockey player above, who would it be in hockey?

RF: Played on Power play with Bobby Orr – I've dreamed this many times

TSM What bothers you the most, or what’s the one thing you would like changed about the game of hockey today?

RF: Probably the 3 feet around the rink near the boards, and the goal crease grey area. I think we should always aspire for greater safety without the dinosaur thought "back in the day". And the way the goalie interference and what is/isn't a goal drives me crazy . I want more goals.

TSM We hear from time to time that a team has quit on a coach. Given players competitive nature it’s hard to imagine that players aren’t trying. What’s it look like to you when a team or a player has quit on a coach.

RF: Lack of energy for a bit of time, no real commitment to hunting the puck. It's not a huge difference, but it is noticeable after a while

TSM Best interview you have ever conducted?

RF: Maybe a sit down with Jagr a couple years ago. My favourite was interviewing Landon in his 1st game with Boston

TSM The one question or interview you’d like to have a mulligan on?

RF: Lol .. Probably a lot where I felt like I had marbles in my mouth

TSM 1984 you played your first NHL game, ( I was 12) that’s a long time ago, what’s changed the most in the game since then.

RF: A lot. Defence is king over crating offence. That blocking shots is required not requested even though so many players get hurt blocking needless shots. Thankfully less fighting in areas where it doesn't need to be there. Finishing hits 3 seconds late(that NEVER happened in the 80's despite fact people somehow think there is less hitting today)

TSM Who was the toughest goalie for you to score on in your career

RF: Dominik Hasek

TSM Do people still bring up the chicken parm thing?

RF: In the United States, always

TSM A member of the media recently got criticized for being critical of a current player- and the member of the media who got criticized said that he/she feels that in today's world if you aren't a former player (as you are), you don't get the same discretion to ask or say "the truth" as the players feel, "what do you know, you never played". Thoughts?

RF: I think most media are a bit sensitive. They think it's fair game to criticize a player (which is their right) but when someone criticizes their work, they get upset. In a sense it's hypocritical. I do find that if I say "when I played" , or refer to my career some get offended like I'm trying to play a trump card. I'm not. Fact is I did play and my experience separates me(and other former players) from those that didn't. You take your car to a garage and let the guy fix it, I respect that he is doing his job and has experience that separates him. It's just fact, doesn't mean ex-players are perfect in opinion, but they have been in the situation almost all other media and viewers haven't been.

TSM What was your biggest highlight and lowlight of your NHL career?

RF: Highlight? All of it – I lived my childhood dream for 18 years.
Lowlight? Multiple knee surgeries, broken ankle and leg…. But I would do it over again in a heartbeat

Thanks a million to Ray for taking the time!

Happy weekend!



  • comment-avatar

    Great stuff on Ray. Could not agree more with the work Rick Westhead has done and continues to do for TSN and add to that the resources CTV/W5 have added to the mix.

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    Rob in Aurora5 years ago

    Ray is the best by far…however there aren’t too many that I would say are even any good in the colour commentary roll. Not in Canada anyway. Ray calls it like he sees it but doesn’t pile on a guy or a team. He doesn’t try to be a comedian, but yet he’s quite funny at times when the sutuation calls for it. He doesn’t make hockey sound complicated or an exact science that needs detailed explanation… (Those “fake rink” sequences in studio with Kypreos and Hrudey make me laugh out loud)

    Ray and Glenn Healey are friendly from their time as teammates on the island.. Too bad Healey doesn’t try to be more like Ray…I guess what distonguishes ray from the Sportsnet staff is he is likeable, informative and entertaining. He figured out how to be good. (I’m sure it didn’t take him long).

    I heard him mention on TSN 1050 that he signed a “10 year deal”, so agents won’t talk to him because they can’t make any money acting on his behalf…I’m not sure if he was just kidding around, but it wouldn’t surprise me either…TSN would be smart to keep him locked down. He’s only going to get better with experience.

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    Vin scully always worked alone!

    He’s the best and nobody ever came close, dead or alive.
    Never relied on a Color commentator to fill in dead air or take over play by play for 3 innings so he can go have a cigarette.

    He’s an artist, a poet and a minstrel all-in-one. Might not have known anything about baseball and it wouldn’t have mattered.

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    Scully had a colour-guy in the booth for years, Don Drysdale for example.

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    Sorry, and Jerry Doggett and Ross Porter

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    Scully also had partners when he worked for NBC, notably the recently-deceased Joe Garagiola.

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    Still one of the all-time greats. I watch as many Dodgers home games as I can. Vin is living history.

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    Rob in Aurora5 years ago

    (I meant Ray is the best in hockey to avoid any confusion. Of course vinbis the best. He worked alone doing Dodger games on radio. Not on TV…he’s the best play by play guy on sports. He did golf and football just as well as he did baseball.

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    I think rogers should get everybody b that was involved with the CBC and figure out how to save hnic. They have clearly mis judged what audiences want to see. Leaf fans ar completely familiar with not being in the playoffs, and I for one often watched non leaf playoff games. Not anymore. They’ve got to gut Kypreos, Shannon,McLean,Cox.

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    billyjoejimbob5 years ago


    Your feel for the industry is really improved the more you write this column, but if you really believe TSN would have hired Westhead if it still had the rights — you’re very naive.

    This is a George Cope-sponsored vendetta, and the industry knows it. That isn’t to say the work isn’t important. It is. But it’s kind of funny how TSN wasn’t doing this work beforehand, isn’t it?

    As for Ferraro, he is excellent. A tremendous listen.

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    learn how to read

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    dogpounder5 years ago

    Vote for Pedro

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    dogpounder5 years ago

    “I for one often watched non leaf playoff games. Not anymore. They’ve got to gut Kypreos, Shannon,McLean,Cox.”


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    I second that vote for Pedro

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    hidden gem5 years ago

    TIM & SID estimated tv audience from last week.

    Mon Apr 4th (1748 to 1830) *lead-in was baseball SF @ MIL, Jays Central followed T&S
    94,000 with 48k demo
    M – 52k F – 42k
    Ontario – 35k

    Tue Apr 5th (1730-1830)
    58,000 with 28k demo
    M – 38k F – 20k (50+ – 28k)
    Ont – 34k

    Wed Apr 6th (1700-1830)
    M – 38k F – 15k (50+ – 29k)
    Ont – 25k

    Thu Apr 7th (1700-1830)
    54,000 with 32k demo
    M – 42k F – 12k (50+ – 19k)
    Ont – 38k

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    What’s the big deal with Rick Westhead? The Hockey News had it’s annual report on the most influential and powerful people of hockey. Elliott Friendman was there. I didn’t see Rick Westhead’s name.

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    William D5 years ago


    Rick Westhead is an investigative sports journalist not a hockey person who discusses stats,rosters,games etc. Rick discusess social and business issues surrounding sports whereas Elliot friedman is a hockey insider that does exactly what Rick does not. Complete apples to oranges job profiles.

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    A great point by Ray Ferraro re: the thin-skinned hockey media! Far too many Toronto sports media members are very good at dishing out criticism, but can’t take it coming back the other way. Leading the way in that respect, it’s a race between Bruce Arthur, Mike Wilner and Steve Simmons.

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    Not the best place for this, but did anyone else find the 3 man booth with Shulma, Buck, and Tabler too clunky on Friday night? I don’t think Buck and Shulman really understood each others roles, and were tripping over each other. Love hearing Shulman, but when he is back, Buck should get the night off.

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    @Jeff – For me, having Shulman on with Buck and Pat accentuated the difference in quality between them. What I heard from Shulman was professionalism and objectivity. Buck and Pat are cheerleaders. But yes, even though Buck was a colour guy for TBS (I think) – and quite good at it too – I don’t think he realized that that was the role he should play while Dan was calling the game. Perhaps Buck jumping in at the wrong time was out of habit, or maybe he just wanted to make sure people knew that this was still his gig. I agree with you though – Buck should get the night off when Dan’s calling the game…Pat too.

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    @Curt – 100% agree. I doubt Buck is very happy with the arrangement either. Him and Pat are cheerleading way too much. I get that they are hometown broadcasters, but in particular, the way they spin every aspect of Jose Bautista into something positive is bush league. You can still be critical, even if you are a hometown broadcaster. It makes it a better listen, in my opinion…

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    Tonight’s PTS interview with Gregg Zaun calling from his house on his cell phone was the single worst example of a bad cell phone interview I’ve heard in a few years. Just hang up on the guy next time. And even if he had a good connection, don’t call when you’re feeding your baby. Daft.

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    Happened twice last week too, with Healy and Tallon. So awkward and uncomfortable!

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    To Bob’s credit, no host has bitched about it more as it was happening & not just to his co-host and listeners but then to the interviewee himself! I wish we had audio of Bob yelling at his Producer when they went to commercial.

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    About a month ago Walker’s show might have set a Toronto sports radio bad cell phone record………within approximately half an hour there were two separate guests who had their cell phones cut out (it happened to one of those guests twice) and then a caller’s cell phone cut out too

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    I know Kornheiser had a no-cell phone rule on his show except in extreme circumstances.

    Most hosts prob dont have clout to demand that. Bob prob could but promoting other SN talent likely takes precedent.

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    I love the comments of people complaining about Dan/Buck/Pat on their performance in their FIRST GAME OF THE SEASON!

    They were fine. Give them a few more games to work together and they’ll figure it out.

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    @Derrick…so I am not allowed to comment until after a certain # of games? I offered an opinion on what I heard. Thats why its called a first impression.

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    Tomorrow is the 5 year anniversary of the start of TSN 1050……….it will be interesting to see how their new weekday lineup does in the spring radio ratings

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    There is a very interesting thing occurring in the BJ front office right now. For anyone on here who followed Stephen Brooks on Twitter prior to his ‘resignation’ the other day- you know how much he brought a real life face and connection to the fan base. This was snuffed out by the new President and his regime, who chose to publicly chastise Mr Brooks’ efforts when asked about the departure.
    As it relates to this media forum- I find the Brooks/Twitter/Shapiro comments very interesting. Obviously, Mr Brooks was found to be too transparent, or at minimum decided he would resign rather than be found as insubordinate to Shapiro’s marching orders. Either way- we lose as fans.
    As an added bonus- Shi D has written a piece about this as well-I’ve not yet read it.
    If i had a vote- would love to get MIB’s take on this topic. Sure hope the Jays can have some success this year on the field- because from where i sit, there is the very real possibility of a massive change and subsequent public outcry against this team before 2016 is over.
    Imagine: Transplanted Cleveland (racists) front office folks systematically remove Canadians from key front office positions. Raised ticket prices in the off season. Team gets off to a mediocre start, fires popular field manager and replaces him with Eric Wedge (another Cleveland guy). Then they let the face of the franchise & slugging DH walk in free agency. Or worse- wave the white flag early and trade them away at the deadline. Wonder how Rogers tries to spin this one as “Canada’s team”?

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    Most of the players on the Jays are and always have been American. If you want them to be Canada’s team, it would logically start with the nationality of the lineup on the field. For ‘Canadas Team’, there’s a lot of foreigners getting cheered.

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    Davidi’s piece (and other “Canadians” whining about this) borders on jingoism. Who cares where someone comes from? Just win.

    Based on the fear-mongering, I guess we might as well can John Gibbons now for, who, Rob Ducey?

    You know, when Canadian-born men manage and staff hockey teams in St. Louis or Dallas, there isn’t this sort of bawling there. Why are we, in turn, so thin-skinned and insecure?

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    GreycountyMike speaks for me as well. This whole narrative is made-up. Its like one of those rules know one knew was a rule till it was ‘broken’. No one batted an eye when the leafs hired ‘Mericans as GMs.

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    Drumanchor5 years ago

    I, also, agree with GreyCountyMike. This type of attitude reeks of small-town, parochial thinking. As much as we love to tout ourselves as North America’s 4th largest city, at times is seems like we are not much more than a country village. The same kind of “how dare they?” thinking that is being debated about the 12:30pm start to the Raptor playoff game this Saturday.

    Get over it and grow up, people. Far more important realities to get our buns in a knot over.

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    I thought Davidi’s piece was very well done. I didn’t see it as particularly jingoistic; he never said American’s can never connect with and support Canadian baseball but asked will this new guard do so or will the relationship become more strained like it did with Ricciardi/Godfry (who is also a Canadian). It was a compelling look at the situation, one that is different than say a GM job of the Blues IMO.

    I was basically on board with the whole resignation/parting ways/however it actually went down of Brooks (these things happen… good people don’t always work well together… maybe he really did get a better opportunity elsewhere) until I read Shapiro’s comments about “addressing the Twitter”. It was just so utterly, completely tone-deaf about why Stephen made an impact on fans and came across that good, hell even decent, customer service from the business side of things can’t be expected in the future. And to be clear, most of what Stephen Brooks did on Twitter was responding to questions about ticket packs, ballpark polices and improvements, etc. He wasn’t leaking state secrets. A manager or players are not going to be the spokesmen on that stuff because that’s not their job and none of them have a clue on about the biz side. That Shapiro or any executive would have such a problem with customer interaction is frankly mindboggling to me. It’s like he generally has not learned a thing about the fans since he got hear.

    OR… he knows exactly what he’s doing and enjoys trolling the hell out of fans who irrationally hate everything about him and want to make sweeping generalizations about how terrible this team now is after 8 games. I suppose that is a possibility too, though not a terribly constructive one.

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    Pants Go Brown5 years ago

    Re. Stephen Brooks

    It’s interesting to read Shapiro’s beefing about Brooks’s use of Twitter. Especially rich from Shapiro given that he hasn’t Tweeted anything since April 10, 2015 when he posted a pic of Gateway Plaza in Cleveland.

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    I don’t know how Brooks was at the other parts of his job, but his Twitter account was very good it made fans feel a little bit more part of something. He wasn’t just some intern doing pr he was a knowledgeable part of the organization and put another helpful face in management. This is something the Blue Jays need when you are owned by a company like Rogers that comes off cold and cares just about the $, you want to know the people higher up in the organization actually care about the fans, Brooks did that.

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    Dave in Bolton5 years ago

    Here’s a thought what if Rogers ends up “selling” the NHL national tv rights to MLSE which they own half of with Bell. MLSE would then distribute them to both TSN and Sportsnet. It would be a way to save grace. They could sell it as “reorganing” their sports media division and allow them to get out from this disaster of a deal and bringTSN back.

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    Rob in Aurora5 years ago

    Dave in Bolton. Unless you are actually a professional mediator, I think you missed your calling. That is a really creative idea. The only hole in it is that Bell would be assuming half of what is a terrible deal and may not want to take the whole thing on. Your idea would work if MLSE bought the balance of the deal at a discount. Meaning Rogers would have to swallow some of the “over payment”. But they might be willing to do that in order to minimize the pain of riding this nightmare out for 10 more years…..Someone make this happen! I am sick of hockey Mom strombo and his yoga pant suits..

    (Again, I’m typing on a tablet…apologies for any bad typos, etc. I can barely see what I’m doing on this thing)

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    I’m still not loving the 3 man booth for Jay games. While I don’t mind either Buck or Pat (in homeopathic doses) and Shulman is world class; it seems to me that sometimes Tabler feels obligated to say something because Buck said something.

    Buck: “Boy these blue jays really jump all over the starter the second time through the lineup.”
    Pat: “They’re great aren’t they, the second time through the lineup”

    I’m not asking for Red Barber but sometimes it’s okay to let the game breath a bit.

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    @ Dave and Rob…wouldn’t the league have an issue with a team owning National broadcast rights? I know that NYR and BOS have their own Regional networks, but I would think that it could get messy with the conflict of interest

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    Dave In Bolton5 years ago

    @ jell well when Rogers has ownership in MLSE and naming rights in Edmonton’s new building I really don’t think the NHL has issues with conflict of intrest.

    The MLSE programming director and bosses at MLSE can be the mediator when it comes to balancing the games ect

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    Well, comcast owns nbc/nbcsn and the flyers, so rogers co owning the leafs is par for the course.

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    In a market with very few buyers, TSN will wait to buy from Rogers ( if it is ever offered ). If you’re the head of TSN you’re thinking beyond the 12 year deal. In the end, TSN may come out on top again as #1 in Canadian sports television after the 12 years. Though if Montreal and Toronto ascend the rankings the rest of the Rogers/NHL deal, with Vancouver coming back in the last 3-4 years of the deal, it could pull Rogers out of the shitter.