Tom Larscheid standing on bench, with buddies Laura Ornest,

Al Davidson and Jim Cox

 

 

Former BC Lions running back; colour commentator BC Lions and Vancouver Canucks broadcasts CKNW Vancouver early 1980s-current; afternoon co-host CHMJ Vancouver 2005-current

 

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Larscheid knows about cheap shots. He took a few as a star running back with Utah State in his college football days (Milwaukee-born April 6, 1940, California-raised, he led the nation with an average gain of 8.4 yards per carry in 1960). And he is still a target of the sports fan of British Columbia in general, the Vancouver media in particular and the No. 2 morning newspaper to be specific. The whine is he lacks credibility and objectivity as a hockey commentator.

 

``There's a lot of envy and jealousy in our business, but it's especially true in this market,'' he says. ``All we do is rip each other. It's bullshit.''

 

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Jim Robson and Larscheid are opposite personalities and their marriage on the broadcasts, which took place in 1977, had a troubled honeymoon. Robson was used to working solo and was set in his ways. Larscheid is a free spirit. They held meetings before each game, worked out their differences, and gradually melded into what is arguably the best team in the business.

 

Larscheid describes him in two words: "Consummate professional."

 

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2000 Vancouver Sun Greg Douglas

 

Ciao Bella Restaurant on Denman Street was a strange place for Tom Larscheid to be on a B.C. Lions' game night, wouldn't you think? For the past 24 years, Larscheid has been the Lions radio colour commentator dating back to the early days of CHQM and CFUN before CKNW locked up the broadcast rights for ever and a day. Larscheid, a proud member of the CFL Reporters Hall of Fame, had been looking forward to reaching the 25-year milestone. But there he sat in Ciao Bella with his wife, Lesley, Wednesday night while the Leos were doing battle in Edmonton.

 

'NW sports director and football play-by-play announcer J.P. McConnell never did acknowledge Larscheid's absence, except for a casual mention on the pre-game show that Giulio Caravatta would be his sidekick in the broadcast booth for the coming season. Had Larscheid been fired? Did he suddenly walk away from his football assignment because it was too much to handle with his commitment to the Canucks broadcasts? Did McConnell and Larscheid have another of their celebrated dust-ups?

 

Tom Plasteras, 'NW program director, doubles as the station's fire marshall. He doused the flames this way: "As always with the Lions and Canucks there are conflicts with the schedules. Tom missed seven football games last year because of hockey. We would also give Tom two weeks off in February each year because of his heavy schedule. To be consistent with both products, we decided to move Giulio into the football chair and leave Tom exclusively on hockey. We've already agreed on a new three-year contract."

 

Larscheid concludes: "Of course, I'm going to miss football. But I've got to keep reminding myself to count my blessings. Where else can a guy who's 60 years old work eight months of the year at something he loves and take the summers off? For Plasteras, it was just another day and the extinguishing of another fire.

 

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1998 Vancouver Sun Greg Douglas

 

 

Jim Coleman says he'll take great delight in being part of Tom Larscheid's induction at the Football Reporters of Canada breakfast this morning. Larscheid just completed his 23rd year as B.C. Lions colour commentator. He was a scrappy little running back with the Leos back in the early 1960s and parlayed his gritty approach to life into a successful broadcasting career. Larscheid is the type of guy you'd want standing beside you in a war-time trench when the enemy was busting into your territory on full attack. Jim Cox, Bill Good Sr., Jim Taylor and J.P. McConnell are the other Vancouver-based reporters enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

 

 

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The Province 2003 Terry Bell

 

For 26 years, Tom Larscheid has been informing and entertaining Canucks fans over the airwaves as the team's colour man on its radio broadcasts

 

It comes out over the airwaves in a rat-a-tat-tat staccato, like an Uzi firing off a round of single syllable ammo.

 

Yep, there it is ... ha, ha, ha, ha, ha ... Tom Larscheid is unleashing his infectious, trademark laugh. And you just know that when you hear it the Canucks are either filling someone else's net or stoning guys in front of their own.

 

Larscheid, the former B.C. Lions running back turned radio broadcaster, has been providing colour commentary for Canucks games since he made his CKNW debut alongside Jim Robson at New York's Madison Square Garden in 1977.

 

Time has done nothing to erode either his enthusiasm for the game or the team he covers.

 

"Get on the telephone, Chubey has found his scoring touch!" he yelled across B.C. when the Canucks quiet Russian Artem Chubarov made some noise with a pair of goals to lead the Canucks to a 6-3 win over Columbus at GM Place last Tuesday.

 

"Oh, this is more like it, baby. The team is starting to play the way it can!" he told play-by-play man John Shorthouse as the Canucks rallied from a 3-2 deficit with a big third period.

 

Larscheid, who's in the first year of a new three-year deal with CKNW, makes no apologies about wanting the Canucks to win.

 

"I try to portray the joy and excitement in the game," said Larscheid when asked to describe his style. "It's enthusiastic. At times it's opinionated. I try to call it the way it is. I want people at home to feel what people are feeling here at GM Place.

 

"But let's not be mistaken about this, I love to see the Vancouver Canucks win hockey games. I love it. And when they don't win hockey games I'm much like a fan. I get a little upset with that.

 

"I think that's fine. We are the broadcasters for the Vancouver Canucks. When the team plays well or a player is having the game of his life, that excites me. And I want the fans at home to feel that excitement."

 

Larscheid isn't afraid to let the Canucks have it when they stink. He'll call a guy a bonehead after a bad play. He's more critical of the team he covers than many of his peers are.

 

But he's not malicious. He's never there with the shovel ready to bury a guy. Tough love, you might say.

 

In the 3-1 win over the Kings in Los Angeles Thursday, Larscheid made no attempt to hide the fact that the big line -- Todd Bertuzzi, Markus Naslund and Brendan Morrison -- was struggling. They were on the ice for the Kings' lone goal.

 

"That was a very lazy shift and the Canucks paid for it," Larscheid said. "This checking people with their sticks."

 

And then this observation on Bertuzzi, who'd just drawn a penalty for levelling Sean Avery: "He has been asleep tonight. When he's not moving his feet, he's not very effective."

 

The players don't get mad. They know most times he's right.

 

"Tommy's always been a good guy, very respectful and a good guy to talk to," said Bertuzzi, whom Larscheid nicknamed "Babe" two years ago after he'd predicted -- in true Babe Ruth fashion -- that he'd score a goal.

 

"He's a good man. He knows a lot about sports and it shows in his broadcasting. He's been good to me and he's been a good friend."

 

Larscheid knows what it's like to be a pro athlete. That's helped him relate to what players go through on a daily basis and maybe given him a credibility in the dressing room that non-players might not have.

 

"It's a camaraderie that professional athletes have for each other," said Larscheid. "I think that helped me a lot as far as dealing with players on a day-to-day basis.

 

"I think players admire players who played in other sports and from that standpoint it carried me through a lot of the rough periods."

 

But there don't appear to be any rough periods now. And not just because the Canucks are off to a strong start.

 

Larscheid loves working with Shorthouse, a partnership that's now in its sixth season.

 

"I've never had more fun in the booth than I'm having right now," said Larscheid. "My love and passion for the game has never wavered. In fact, I think it's stronger now than it's ever been and maybe the reason for that is the partnership we have in the booth.

 

"We play off each other. We're a team. We have a lot of fun and that's important in this job because we spend so much time together over the course of a season."

 

Shorthouse and Larscheid have become good friends. This, of course, gives Shorthouse licence to mimic his colleague. Some of that comes on the long plane rides after games.

 

"Sometimes I'll get him going on the plane," said Shorthouse. "I'll play back a highlight and he just loves it. It's so funny. I'll cue up some of the off-the-wall stuff he said and he just loses it, he howls."

 

"It's infectious and it's at both ends of the spectrum," Shorthouse said of Larscheid's loquaciousness, throwing out a perfect "it's murrrrder" -- a favourite that rolls off Tom's tongue when times seem to be at their worst.

 

"I like him when he's at his highest and I like him when he's at his lowest. He's entertaining at both ends because he wears his heart on his sleeve. I'm sure, as a listener, if you tune in and you don't know the score and you hear him talk then you know how the night's going.

 

"I think that's just Tom," continues Shorthouse. "He understands the game and that shines through when it needs to but I think what he has that a lot of the colour guys don't have is not only an understanding of the game but also a really genuine understanding of the broadcasting business.

 

"It's not all about Xs and Os. It's about entertaining people and I think he does that better than anybody. It's a balance not only between analyzing and educating but also entertaining."

 

Larscheid still remembers his first game -- a 6-3 loss to the Rangers on Oct. 12, 1977. And he remembers his first interview. It was with John Ferguson, the Rangers general manager at the time, and Larscheid introduced him as a winner of five Grey Cup championship rings.

 

Of course, he laughs about the gaffe now.

 

He remembers the best moments: Pavel Bure's end-to-end rush at the Pacific Coliseum in his Canucks debut and Bure's goal in double overtime against Calgary early in that magical 1994 playoff run.

 

Larscheid almost came out of the booth on those nights.

 

And to paraphrase the man himself, "Didn't ya just love it!"

 

 

 

 

 

BC Radio History