Colby Cohen was named an All
Amarican in 2011 after scoring 14
goals from the blue line that season.
(Photo by Matt Dresens/2010)
Cohen first crackled the airwaves before his playing career was even over. After three years at BU, Cohen signed with the Colorado Avalanche, who drafted the Villanova, Pennsylvania native 45th overall in 2007. Cohen played three games for the Avalanche in 2010, before being traded to Boston.
He never quite made it back to the NHL, despite playing 147 games for the Providence Bruins and being a “black ace” for the 2011 Bruins Stanley Cup run. Cohen finished his playing career overseas in Finland and Slovakia, before finishing up in Britain with the Nottingham Panthers in 2015.
During his final season, while recovering from groin surgery, Cohen got his first crack at broadcasting. Like most broadcasting careers, some things just happen by chance.
“Jamie Erdahl was a friend of mine and someone at NESN asked her to ask me if I wanted to come and do a show,” described Cohen. One thing led to another and Cohen was on air for a NESN studio show for Friday night college hockey. He later would work the intermission reports for NESN in the Beanpot and Hockey East tournaments.
For a guy who was not a broadcast major in college, Cohen is very much on the fast track to a long career in the field. Normally a well known and reputable station like NESN is not where people break into the field.
“I really enjoyed my time at NESN because they gave me an opportunity and they had producers that believed in me and saw something in me,” said Cohen. “They gave me my first ever chance and the fact that the first network I ever went on was New England Sports Net, which is a pretty well-respected network, really helped me when I did stop playing and I started doing this more for real.”
Cohen may have traded in his skates and stick for a microphone, but ended up right back in the rinks. After a few appearances on NESN, Cohen jumped in on the broadcast for the 2016 NCAA regionals in Cincinnati with Allen Bestwick.
Much like the game-winning goal in 2009, getting on the call for those games in Cincinnati took a bit of fortune. ESPN had a few BU alums working as producers and found out Cohen had done a bit of TV work and obviously, knew he played the game. Thanks to a last minute drop out, Cohen got the call.
“I just kinda lucked into it. That was the first serious game I had and that parlayed into doing some games with CBS and American Sports Network which then parlayed into another regional. I kinda just got lucky a couple times.”
In a similar path outlined by the NCAA tournament, Cohen moved on from the regionals to the Frozen Four. Last year in Chicago, Cohen was a radio broadcaster for Westwood One. Seven years after playing for a national title, Cohen was describing one on the air.
Of course, radio is not TV. It requires a different skill set in comparison to a TV broadcast, but thanks to the people at Westwood One, Cohen found the transition pretty seamless.
“Their producers care so much about the product that they work with you. I’ve learned more working for Westwood One and I’ve gotten better at what I do working for Westwood One than another network just because my producers give me such specific feedback on my shows.”
The quick learning Cohen got the chance of a lifetime this past winter to work the Olympics in PyeongChang. While he may have wished he was on the ice with his former Terrier teammates Matt Gilroy and John McCarthy, Cohen still found the experience amazing.
Fun day in the booth calling hockey— good times sharing a spot with @KennyAlbert pic.twitter.com/wV6Maa2PYf— Colby Cohen (@ColbyCohen36) February 16, 2018
“It was an experience I really wanted to take part in as a player and definitely it was something that made me miss playing. But it was a phenomenal experience getting to call Team USA and the Women’s gold medal game. It's definitely something that I will carry with me and remember as a broadcaster.”
The Olympics were also a huge learning tool for Cohen. The quickly rising talent got a front row seat to see not only great hockey, but world-class broadcasters. Ray Ferraro, Darren Pang and Kenny Albert are just a few who were on the calls in PyeongChang.
Like a good player who studies film and watches to see how other players might perform a certain skill, Cohen has taken that approach in the broadcast booth as well.
“You really have to find your own style. You can’t really worry about getting caught up in trying to be someone else. There are four or five guys who I think are just phenomenal at what they do and I try to watch them and take little things from them. I try and see what they do and I try to see how to make it work for me without changing who I am.”
Wednesday night, Cohen called his first NHL playoff game, a 1-0 win for Vegas over Los Angeles. He will be on again in the coming days, working for Westwood One.