VOORHEES, N.J. – If the late Gene Hart was “The Voice of the Flyers,” then Steve Coates is “The Commentator.”
Coates, a part of the Flyers broadcast organization since 1980, announced his retirement on Friday.
Praise for his work over the past 43 years comes from far and wide, including Flyers coach John Tortorella and veteran left wing James van Riemsdyk.
In making the announcement, the Flyers said Coates will continue to be active in both team and Flyers Alumni events following the 2022-23 season.
Tortorella said he met Coates through former Flyers coach Craig Ramsay, who was an assistant coach on that Tampa Bay Lightning 2004 Stanley Cup champion team.
“What can you say about that guy?” Tortorella said with a smile after Friday’s practice at the Flyers Training Center. “That’s just a good man. He’s given everything to this organization. With the personality that he brings, it’s just fun to be around him.
“So it’s a hard one. I’m happy for him but sad, it’s sad for the game. The game has great personalities and he’s at the top of that list.
Van Riemsdyk became a fan of Coates as far back as his rookie year in 2009-10.
“He was one of the first guys who made me feel welcome,” JVR recalled. “I was doing ‘Coatesy’s Corner’ right away. He’s just a great human, really fun to be around. He’s definitely someone who always brings a smile to your face when you see him.”
Coates expressed appreciation for all the Flyers have done for him.
“The Philadelphia Flyers organization is unlike any other in professional sports and it has truly been my honor to have been a part of it for so many years,” said Coates. “This organization has given me a home and a family. It has led me to forge lifelong relationships and the very best of friendships with everyone I’ve had the privilege to work with along the way.
“I have too many people to thank over the years for their support and guidance, but none of this would have been possible without the incredible community of Flyers fans that I’ve met, and continue to meet, every single day. Serving as the voice of the team for all my years, the one thing that is undeniable is that the Flyers logo means something special to all of us. For me, it represents a community whose passion for their team is unequalled year after year. You are the heartbeat of this team and I thank you for welcoming me into your lives.”
Comcast Spectacor chairman and governor Dave Scott said Coates’ work has been second to none.
“The impact that Steve Coates has had on this organization and in the community has been immeasurable during his 43-year career,” said Scott. “There’s no doubt that Coatesy is one of the sharpest analysts in hockey, whether its breaking down a game, a player, or situation, but his impact on the Flyers has been much greater than that. What makes Coatesy truly unique is his ability to connect with everyone he meets through his infectious and welcoming personality – that’s why he will always be beloved by our players, coaches, and fans. I am lucky to call Coatesy a friend, and he will always be part of the Flyers family.”
New interim general manager Daniel Briere is both a good friend of Coates and an admirer of his work.
“Coming to Philadelphia 15 years ago, it didn’t take very long for me to understand what made Coatesy a special part of this organization and the community,” said Briere. “He has a natural ability to make everyone feel welcome and a genuine interest to meet, listen and help anyone in need. His love of the Flyers, but more importantly the fans of this great city, is near and dear to his heart and something that should be celebrated.”
Coates spent the last 43 seasons with the Flyers broadcast team, both on television and radio networks, most recently serving as the team’s color analyst for Flyers radio broadcasts on 97.5 the Fanatic and 93.3 WMMR for the last nine seasons.
Coates has filled several roles with the Flyers since retiring as a player in 1980, when he joined Gene Hart in the Flyers radio booth. Coates served as studio host on Flyers telecasts on both WTAF-TV (Channel 29, 1984 through 1986) and WGBS-TV (Channel 57, 1987 through 1991), and then spent six seasons as the color analyst on WIP-AM.
He joined the Comcast SportsNet telecast in 1999 and spent 16 seasons as a member of its broadcast team. In 2006-07, he moved to a new rinkside position that is now widely used in the hockey world.
Coates has won two Mid-Atlantic Emmy Awards (2000 and 2004) for Best Live Sports Coverage Series, and has also served as the television color commentator for Philadelphia Phantoms and Flyers Cup telecasts during his broadcast career.
A native of Toronto, Ontario, Coates appeared in five games with the Detroit Red Wings during the 1976-77 season. He played professional hockey for seven different IHL and AHL clubs from 1973 through 1980 as a right wing.
Prior to turning professional, he spent four seasons at Michigan Tech University from 1969-73 and graduated with a degree in Business Administration in 1973. In 2018, he was inducted in Michigan Tech’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
The Flyers will recognize and honor Coates in a special pre-game ceremony on April 1 vs. Buffalo Sabres at Wells Fargo Center. An announcement regarding specific plans will be released closer to the game. The organization will also begin the process of looking for a new color commentator for their radio broadcast this summer.