Cam Moon has been calling Red Deer Rebels games since before most of the players were born.
The veteran game caller has been the voice of the Rebels for 19 seasons and last Friday, the man, affectionately known as ‘Mooner,’ called his 1,500th game in the WHL.
“Long time, doesn’t seem like it though,” Moon told the Advocate last week.
“It’s gone so quick. I don’t consider what I do work. What I get to do is really fun. It’s exactly what I wanted to do.
“When I was a 20-year-old in this league, I had to figure out what my next step was because it wasn’t going to be pro hockey. This is ultimately what I wanted. I wanted to do play-by-play in the Western Hockey League.”
The journey from a 20-year-old goalie who played 60 games in the WHL with three different teams then led him to school for broadcasting, before landing a gig doing play-by-play for the Nanaimo Clippers of the British Columbia Hockey League. From there, the Edmonton native returned to Central Alberta for the job calling Rebels games.
Moon was honoured before a Dec. 30 tilt with the Kootenay Ice and the team also surprised him with 400 limited edition bobbleheads that were handed out to the first 400 fans who arrived at the Centrium.
The bobblehead idea, originally pitched in August by Rebels Senior VP Merrick Sutter, was cast aside as wishful thinking and forgot about until the team pulled a fast one and showed Moon the figurine last Tuesday.
“(Merrick Sutter) said ‘We’re going to do something.’ I said, ‘No you’re not.’ and he said, ‘no, we are and there’s nothing you can do about it,’ ” Moon recalled.
“And that was it, that was in August. I kind of thought, and hoped that he had forgot. I was kind of sure he did because nobody ever said anything. I saw it and said, ‘I hope there’s only one.’ Turns out there were a lot. It’s flattering, it’s just not my style.”
What does Rebels GM and head coach Brent Sutter think about Moon and the bobblehead?
“Bobblehead. His bald head just flops around. His head bobblin’ all over the place,” he said.
“It’s awesome for Mooner. He’s such a loyal guy. Red Deer Rebels mean everything to him and he’s had opportunities to move on up in sport and do broadcasting at a higher level and he just lives and breathes Red Deer Rebels.
“He’s an awesome broadcaster, I know that everyone loves listening to him. He’s been doing it for a long time obviously with that many games. So it’s pretty exciting for him.”
Much like his modesty off the ice, Moon’s style in the booth has always been about letting the game tell the story. He said he learned from legendary voices like Bob Cole and Vin Scully to always be prepared but also make sure the emotion and the game are front and centre.
“I have to be me,” Moon said.
“I’m not a catch-phrase guy. I like it to be organic. I like to be prepared. But I don’t have things I’m going to say. It has to be the emotion of it that takes over. That’s the best … I’m just the guy who is going to let you know what’s happening, where the puck is; what the score is and all that stuff.
“Hopefully I can do it in an informative way, but also it has to be exciting. Otherwise you’re not going to listen. I’ve got to make sure the game has a little bit of zip to it, too.”
Moon laid out what brings him back night-after-night in the WHL — the idea of endless possibilities from one game to the next.
“I like telling the story. I love that when you go to the game that night, you don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said.
“You have no idea. Some nights you think you know what’s going to happen, and it doesn’t happen. That’s the beauty of the WHL is because it’s less predictable than higher levels. That’s what I love about it.”
Moon said some of his favourite moments with the team are the Memorial Cup run of 2001, when they didn’t lose back-to-back games from December on.
“Great group of characters, great players with a ton of talent but also really good guys. It was an unbelievable season. You just had that feeling every night the puck was dropped that they were going to win,” he said.
He added that a close second was the playoff win over the Brandon Wheat Kings in 2002, when the team came back from a three-to-one deficit to win the eastern conference final. The Memorial Cup last season, hosted by the Rebels also stood out for Moon.
The Rebels GM and head coach, who took over the team in 1999, said that while all those memories have Moon’s voice behind them, the longtime broadcaster has been an even better person off the ice.
“He’s a great guy, he has certainly been someone for myself, since day one when we purchased the team back in ’99 Mooner was here,” he said.
“Someone that I’ve grown to lean on a lot for different things. He’s just a true loyal guy. He throws everything into it. He puts a lot of time and effort into and does well at what he does.”