Cam Moon remembers doing cartwheels nearly a decade ago – when the Red Deer Rebels travelled up Highway 2 to play the Edmonton Oil Kings – the franchise’s first game at Rexall Place.
Moon grew up in Edmonton in the ‘80s, watching the Oilers play at the old Northlands Coliseum and was downright giddy at the chance to call a game at that arena.
“Seriously, I was through the roof. The first time the Rebels played in Edmonton against the Oil Kings, I was doing cartwheels I was so excited,” said the man affectionally known as ‘Mooner’ across the hockey community.
That excitement never waned in 22 years and over more than 1,700 games as the Rebels play-by-play voice – Moon will move on and make his NHL debut, calling the Oilers on the radio Thursday night.
“I was stunned. I didn’t expect it. Quite honestly never thought the day would come,” said Moon, who has never missed a Rebels’ broadcast since the day he took the job.
“I love calling Rebels games, I love the WHL and love Red Deer… something changes, you get the call and you get the opportunity to go back to your hometown and all that kind of stuff, call games for the team you grew up watching – there’s no way I could say no to that.”
It was a whirlwind weekend for the long-time WHL broadcaster, who was more than happy with his role as director of broadcast and media relations for the Rebels.
The Oilers called Rebels Owner, GM and head coach Brent Sutter on Thursday – interviewed Moon on Friday and Saturday, and by Sunday, he was packing a bag to get ready for the NHL season.
Sutter said it was a bittersweet day for the Rebels, losing someone like Moon, who had become like a part of the family over the years.
“We’re very excited and happy for Mooner but at the same time we’re sad. Everyone in the office is thrilled for Cam but we also know that he’s going to be missed,” Sutter said.
“He’s been a big part of this for so long and he’s been such a loyal soldier. He’s been a big part of the community with his charity work and a big part of Rebels hockey.”
Simply the best. I can still remember many of his calls from the 2001 Memorial Cup run. Congrats. https://t.co/lcbqfqljyT
— JR (@JRein34) January 11, 2021
The Rebels owner added it will be a near-impossible task to replace Moon, but they have an interim plan for the upcoming 24-game WHL season, which could start in late February.
Beyond that, they’ll go through an exhaustive search this summer to find the right fit for a position that requires a lot more than just calling games.
“With the role he’s had here, you won’t find someone better than Mooner because of all the boxes he checks off,” Sutter said.
Sutter’s sentiment was echoed by the hockey community at large Monday when the news dropped. Moon said he was overwhelmed at the messages, calls and tweets. He was emotional about how much simply doing his job meant to so many people.
“It’s a lot. It’s a bit over the top and I’m not always comfortable with that. Crazy though,” he said.
“I guess it just speaks to hockey fans and how important the game is to people.”
Big news in Red Deer today. An amazing promotion and opportunity for Mooner but Rebels hockey will never be the same without him. 😩 He truly is and always will be the voice of Rebels hockey to me. https://t.co/Nt6wc0QbSU
— Alyssa Dermott (@AlyssaDermott) January 11, 2021
Former Rebels captain Ethan Sakowich, who is also an Oilers fan added his name to the list of those thrilled for Moon. Sakowich said he meant a great deal to the players, making them feel welcome from the day they arrived in town.
“I texted him right away. He’s been great, it’s long overdue and he deserves to be there. Really happy for him,” said Sakowich, who played 264 WHL games, all in a Rebels uniform.
“He was just another voice you got to here. He was always positive. Always shared his insight. He was great to everyone, doesn’t matter how old you were.”
Moon says there are so many memories that he’ll cherish from his time in Red Deer. The Memorial Cup run in 2001 and the subsequent success over the next three seasons– hosting the Memorial Cup in 2016 and all the games in between.
But it was off the ice, the bus trips and the people in the organization that he’ll miss the most. From getting snowed in, in Hood River, Oregon to putting chains on the bus tires to get up a snowy highway, there are enough memories to last a lifetime with the Rebels.
“Seriously, I’ll miss the bus trips,” he said, with his typical, unbridled enthusiasm.
Moon will call his first game on 630 CHED Thursday when the Oilers host the Vancouver Canucks.