Harry Neale has spent decades filling millions of living rooms across North America with his razor sharp wit and humorous insights. Now the former Varsity Blues hockey player and ex-Vancouver Canucks coach-turned-broadcaster is to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as this year’s recipient of the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award for excellence in hockey broadcasting.

“They must have relaxed the standards,” Neale joked in an interview with Ed Willes of The Province. “I think it’s because I’m getting old. My social security card has two numbers on it.”

However,  it’s hard to argue that Neale is not deserving of the accolade. The transition from hockey management to broadcast media is not always an easy one, but Neale made it effortlessly.

Perhaps the move to broadcasting was easy because, even as a coach, Neale was a straight shooter — often critical, but almost always highly amusing. After Islanders’ coach Al Arbour complained about the Canucks’ style of play following Game 1 of the 1982 Cup final, Neale remarked, “I guess they expected us to get right into the barrel and let them piss on us without even a wiggle.” Neale wasn’t behind the bench for that series; he was serving a ten game suspension for partaking in a brawl with Quebec Nordiques fans that year.

When Sens fans expressed their displeasure with his analysis during a playoff tilt with the Leafs in 2001, he told them to “take a big bite out of my ass.”

Neale was born in Sarnia, Ont. and was an all-star defenseman with the Toronto Marlboros. A graduate of the University of Toronto, he played for the Varsity Blues men’s hockey team alongside Tom Watt, former coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Neale taught high school in Hamilton, Ont. before beginning his professional coaching career with Ohio State University during the mid-1960s.

After stints coaching a number teams, including the Hartford Whalers, Neale became coach of the Vancouver Canucks in 1978, leading the team to the 1982 Stanley Cup finals. He made the leap to the broadcasting booth in 1986 after he was fired as head coach of the Detroit Red Wings.

For nearly two decades, Neale partnered Bob Cole on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada. Together, the popular duo called 20 Stanley Cup finals and provided hockey fans with a witty and entertaining soundtrack for their games.

Once, when Tie Domi ostentatiously moved the puck behind the net in a Leafs-Rangers game, Cole remarked, “Tie looks like Wayne Gretzky behind the net,” to which Neale cleverly replied, “Yeah, but when he gets in front of the net he looks like Tie Domi.”

In 2007, Neale secured a job in the broadcast booth calling Buffalo Sabres’ games with Rick Jeanneret.

Neale’s Hall of Fame induction will take place on November 11. The broadcasting legend will be inducted into the writer’s and broadcaster’s wing of the Hockey Hall of Fame with Jay Greenberg, the longtime Philadelphia Flyers beat writer, who will receive the Elmer Ferguson Award for excellence in hockey journalism.