Johnny Esaw, 87, of Longboat Key and Toronto, died April 6.
Born in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, Mr. Esaw turned to sports broadcasting when a professional hockey career didn’t pan out. He started in radio in Regina, Saskatchewan, and Winnipeg, Canada, then in 1960 moved to CFTO-TV in Toronto.
At CFTO, he covered a number of high-profile sporting events, including the Olympics, the World Hockey Championships and Canadian Football League games. Many credit him for turning figure skating into a mainstream sport, after he encouraged one of Canada’s top skating pairs to perform for network executives in 1961. He also produced the first color telecast of a hockey game in 1967 and conducted the famous 1972 interview with Team Canada Capt. Phil Esposito after his team lost game four of the Summit Series in Vancouver, Canada.
Several Canadian sporting organizations have recognized Mr. Esaw. Among them: the Canadian Reporters Hall of Fame, the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame, Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, the Canadian Figure Skating Hall of Fame and the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ Hall of Fame. He was named a member of the Order of Canada in 2004.