Finally for Pat Foley

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The Hockey Hall of Fame finally figured out what Chicago already knew:

Pat Foley deserves a spot in the building.

The announcement came Thursday. Upon completing his 31stseason of broadcasting Blackhawks games, Foley was named the recipient of the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award, a hockey broadcaster’s highest honor.

Overdue.

Long overdue.

I’d written of Foley’s worthiness for the Hall several times and told Foley that in some conversations. He told me to stop all of it. If he was going to earn a spot in the Toronto shrine, he said, then he wanted it to be for the depth and breadth of his work, not some campaign.

And that’s what did it. There wasn’t a campaign. There was just excellence. There still is.

In fact, Foley has gotten even better. That might be a result of describing a championship team, but still, not everybody can do it like Foley. Very few can.

His enthusiasm for the game and his team remains his signature. His call of the play is spot on. He has mastered the ability to share relevant stats and anecdotes in the fastest game going. His work with Eddie Olczyk, the best analyst in the sport and maybe all of them, makes Hawks telecasts a joy.

News of Foley’s honor sparked a lot of tweets recalling his “BAAAAAANNNNNNERMAN’’ shrieks. Maybe there were some replays of the way he eviscerated Alexander Karpovtsev. But that’s whipped cream compared to his extended greatness.

Foley was banished from the Hawks amid some dark times marked by bad teams and cheap decisions. The Hawks wanted to pay two broadcasters with Foley’s salary.

Then owner Bill Wirtz died, his son Rocky took over and hired John McDonough, who returned Foley to his rightful place, knowing Foley would be the franchise’s greatest marketing pitch next to winning.

He was. He is. And now Foley will be take his rightful spot among hockey’s all-timers.

Pat Foley, your plaque is ready.

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