Legendary Canadian sports broadcaster Johnny Esaw passed away Saturday in Toronto at the age of 87.

“All of us at CTV and Bell Media are deeply saddened by the passing of Johnny Esaw, a true legend in sports broadcasting.  Throughout his career, Johnny was a pioneer in his field and a relentless champion of Canadian amateur sports.  His contributions to the CFL, figure skating, and the Olympic Games in Canada rank with those of the finest sports broadcast leaders in the country.  Although Johnny retired from CTV in 1990, his impact and legacy still resonate with us at CTV, TSN, and RDS today.  He will be truly missed,” said Phil King, President, CTV Programming and Sports, Bell Media.

Over his 40-year career, Esaw was best known for his work broadcasting football, figure skating, international hockey and Olympic events.  Esaw was named a Member of the Order of Canada in 2004 and has been recognized by numerous organizations including the Canadian Football 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.

“I knew Johnny my entire professional career.  Long before TSN and Sportsnet, as President of CTV Sports, he established himself as a true pioneer of sports television in Canada and beyond.  He was our version of Roone Arledge.  His support of figure skating is unsurpassed and his innovation in coverage of the sport, both as executive producer and commentator, is legendary around the world.  I also remember Johnny for the many careers that he launched and the industry leaders that he created.  He had the rare combination of being a brilliant business man and incredibly creative.  To me he was a mentor and an icon.  Canada and the sports world today mourn the loss of a great man,” said Rick Brace, President, Specialty Channels and CTV Production, Bell Media, and former President, TSN.

Esaw is said to have passed away after suffering from respiratory problems.

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