He was the Toronto Maple Leafs best performer over the past 17 years.
And certainly its most consistent.
No matter how bad a season was going and what players on the ice came and went, Andy Frost up in the booth was always there, professionally holding down the fort.
He won’t be any more.
The popular voice of the Maple Leaf games at the Air Canada Centre has not had his contract renewed and won’t be back for the rebirth of the team that starts in September.
“I will miss dealing with the very loyal Leafs fans and the excitement of a game day in the arena,” Frost told me Tuesday.
He’ll be missed too.
His classic voice had a soothing quality. He was the public address guy for the Leafs at the ACC, just like Paul Morris was the steady hand at the Gardens for decades. It made sense for Frost and his classic rock roots from his Q107 background to step into the new barn and create a new legacy. Morris was gracious about it and understood — saying he was basically ready to retire.
But this move does not have that feel to it. Seems too soon. Not in the team’s 100th season!
There appears to be no smoking gun or controversy. It was just a decision for change. My contacts at Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment insist it was an amicable split.
“Very friendly,” said spokesman Dave Haggith. “The entire organization, and its fans, thank Andy for his many years of service and wish him all the best for his future projects.”
Frost certainly did not express any vitriol. He was his usual classy and took the high road all the way.
“It was fantastic,” the Winnipeg native said of his run from the opening of The Hangar in 1999 until 2016. “Working for the Maple Leafs and in the NHL was a tremendous honour.”
Change happens in hockey. But it’s not always right. Ask Scott Moore over at Rogers about Hockey Night in Canada.
Some fans are already speaking out.
“Not the ACC’s smartest moment that’s for sure,” said Ron Cundell of Angus.
“It’s a travesty,” said Rob Del Mundo of TMLfans.com, adding that Andy’s famous call for ‘last minute of play’ is an ACC trademark.”
“It’s a cut-throat industry,” said fan Stefan Ottenbrite. “That voice will be forever missed at the ACC.”
I first read about this move in Howard Berger’s blog and, since he has covered the Maple Leafs for 35 years, asked him his thoughts.
“I don’t know why this happened but Andy will be missed,” Berger told me. “I grew up at Maple Leaf Gardens with Paul Morris (he did PA from 1964 to ’99). Not only was he widely imitated, he was also a voice of comfort for Leafs fans. It was difficult to imagine anyone else doing the job. But Andy came along and built his own legend. An entire generation of Leafs fans has grown up with him in the Air Canada Centre.”
So who’s next?
Haggith said that will be announced in September.
It gives LeafNation time to maybe try to change its mind and bring back Frost to be part of the exciting times ahead with new first rounder Auston Matthews. I have a poll on torontosun.com in which you can vote on your view. We convinced Rogers to bring back Ron MacLean, so maybe Frost could get a second chance too?
For his part, Frost says he’s happy with the great run he had with the team and the fans that he loves.
“It has been a pleasure,” said Frost.
It has, indeed, Andy.
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