St. Cloud, MN – In the tight fraternity of those who follow college hockey, there’s been news on several fronts this week. Obviously, the Gold Medal winning USA World junior team containing 22 current and former NCAA hockey players was a source of pride and excitement for all of college hockey. A shocker was the announcement by well-known college hockey broadcaster Ben Holden via Twitter that he would no longer be employed by CBS Sports after his 12 years with the network.
For those of us that are involved with college hockey and in particular the NCHC, Holden was synonymous with the league having done broadcasts for the conference as part of the league’s agreement with the CBS Sports Network since 2013. Personally, I don’t know Ben Holden, having met him once but like many others have shared comments with him via Twitter during the college hockey season.
However, like many, I feel like I do know Holden from listening to his broadcasts. A very versatile broadcaster, the proud native of Holt, Michigan has done sports ranging from college football, basketball, and ice hockey including broadcasts for the NHL and American Hockey League. The 50-year-old Holden is a two-time Emmy Award-winning broadcaster who has worked for the BigTen Network, Comcast SportsNet, ESPNU, and ESPN+ among others.
Holden readily admits his first love is ice hockey and in particular collegiate ice hockey. He grew up within 15 minutes from Michigan State University’s Munn Arena saying “College hockey has meant everything to me. It’s hands down my favorite sport – it always has been. There’s something about hockey to me that it’s just special. It’s my passion, it’s my love and it’s what’s in my heart.”
His last gig was the twenty games he did in the NCHC Pod for Midco Sports Network most of them with long-time broadcasting partner Dave Starman. Honestly, for me, Holden was one of the MVPs of the Pod connecting with viewers for three weeks of games. In my opinion, one of the elite college hockey broadcasters, his effortless narration and guidance of the game leaves little effort by the viewer whether a novice or seasoned fan to follow the action. Truly, the sign of a great play by play announcer is to connect with the viewer and guide them and not force the viewer through the game action. Holden has the unique ability to do that making the game the attraction, not the broadcaster.
Holden joined the Huskies Warming House Podcast on January 6th to open up about the recent development in his career and life. Kudos to hosts Nick Maxson and Noah Grant, the proprietors of this Podcast that I’m proud to say I’ve been affiliated with from their start. Tackling the reality of moving on after 12 years with a network is an uncomfortable task but the guys did it with respect and sensitivity. It’s not important that we know all the specifics about his parting ways with CBS but Holden did open up with enough detail that it was not only therapeutic for him but enough for those that wanted more information.
Holden admitted “That it happened two days before Christmas and he was informed via text and that’s the way it went down. I didn’t say anything (publicly) until January 4th and I felt like I needed to do that for my own peace of mind. Of course, you’re going to be upset, you’re going to be angry and you have all these mixed emotions and feelings. But, for me, I think positivity is a big thing in life and I pride myself on that. Making it public was part of the healing process to let it go and move forward and carry on with positivity and of course to let people know I’m available and a free agent.”
About his time with CBS Sports Holden said “It was over a decade and it was a big chunk of my life I’ll never forget. You don’t spend 11 years in life anywhere and things aren’t good and they were really good.”
The outpouring of support since his Twitter announcement has been nothing short of amazing. “The last couple of days have been busy in a good way. Moving on from CBS is front and center with me. I’m absolutely blown away by the response I’ve gotten from people and the people that have called and reached out to me. It’s been very humbling. It’s been crazy but it’s been good and I’m moving forward and I’m so appreciative of all the hockey fans, coaches and players out there that have reached out to me. Change is a part of life.”
He was particularly complimentary of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference and its leadership for the way his last gig, the NCHC Pod was handled. “The (NCHC) conference leadership from Josh Fenton down through that office through every head coach, assistant coach, equipment manager, trainer, to the players and fans was amazing. It was one of the best experiences of my career. it was awesome to be there with the people from Midco Sports. All the people and the crew were incredible pros. I would do it again. The league has been awesome. It’s the best league in the country.”
As for the future, it’s too early to say. He’s reached out to some American Hockey League teams but he’s a free agent right now. “I haven’t been out of a job since 2009.” Maybe he’ll change course and do work for just one team like he did earlier in his career. “I would love to get with a team and be there for the next 20 years. I was born to be a hockey announcer.”
Note: Thanks to Nick Maxson and Noah Grant and CenterIceView affiliate, the Huskies Warming House for much of the material used in this story.
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