Puck the Media Interview: Mike Lange, Part 2
July 30, 2009 10 Comments
(Ed. Note: And now, after the jump, Part 2 of our conversation with Hall of Famer Mike Lange.)
Puck the Media: As I mentioned before, you are beloved among all the Penguins fans I know, especially on the internet. Do you ever check out any of the sites that have done tributes to you?
Mike Lange: I’ve seen a few, actually a great deal. I’m appreciative of the fact that people do follow the Penguins and do follow some of the things that I do. I’ve received inquiries from people to do interviews, just like I have from you, and if it makes them happy it makes me happy. I’ve always been under the premise that I’m really not successful without the fans, and I’ve never forgotten that. I think they are so important, and even the sites, to me. I think we’re all here to enjoy something and the game of hockey has given it to us.
PtM: You moved exclusively to radio from TV in 2006. Was that difficult to get used to?
ML: Not really, because I had been weaned on radio from the start. Back in the 70’s, there wasn’t a whole lot of television. When the Penguins did eventually go to more games on television, we simulcast them. That’s something that, certainly, it’s a little different but when you go back and you take actual radio broadcast it brings back a lot of things that you need to do a little differently.
One is to keep the people informed. Two is to be as descriptive as possible. Three, I think a lost art in radio, is identifying players with their teams. I think a lot of young guys in radio just assume that everybody’s watching television, and they don’t think about those things. Someone once told me that the best way to a radio game is broadcast it as if you were broadcasting to a person that was blind. You’ll be a good broadcaster if you do that.
PtM: I remember reading at the time that you might have been looking at other TV gigs. Was that true, and if you had your druthers would you stay with the Penguins for as long as you can?
ML: I’m not sure how long everything will last. If there are situations that come up and present themselves I might be looking. I just go year-to-year, I haven’t even discussed anything with the Penguins for this year. If it happens, then we’ll be here. If it doesn’t, then we’ll be fine. There may be some other things that are out there and we’ll see what transpires. I’ve been here close to 35 years. I’m the Walter Alston of the broadcast business, I just sign year-to-year, that’s all we do.
PtM: I ask every announcer I interview these next two: Can you name the greatest game you’ve ever covered? The most bizarre?
ML: Greatest game would probably be game one of the Stanley Cup Final: Penguins vs. Chicago. The Penguins, behind 4-1 in that game, came back and won it 5-4 on a late goal by Mario Lemieux. It brought the house down. The roof on the Mellon Arena – which obviously, if you know the Igloo – does open! I think it did that night, the sound and the emotion and everything involved would have to probably rate as the greatest game the Penguins ever played. It just built momentum and they went on and won four straight. But that comeback, after a game that they were punished by Chicago, to come back and win it was very impressive.
The most bizarre? I’ve thought about this, there aren’t many really bizarre games. The only bizarre couple of moments, remembering a game in Winnipeg one night, where the Penguins were playing the Winnipeg Jets. I saw to the corner of my eye in the upper deck, police and paramedics headed to the upper deck – very steep steps in Canada and any place you’ve ever been, you know that’s true in a very old building. They couldn’t get through the crowd because the people wouldn’t move, they were watching the hockey game. Well, they eventually got there and they brought down a gentleman on a gurney, and brought him down and he didn’t make it. He had a heart attack and died. But I just remember the people would not move for the paramedics and people, they were upset with the fact that they were even up there. What a bizarre moment it was, that hockey took over in a life and death situation.
PtM: Finally, what is your favorite of the post-goal sayings?
ML: They’re all my favorite, Steve. I do not use them unless they are. That’s one of my rules, and when they hit the list, they’re right there with every other one. Every single one.
(After that answer, Mr. Lange said “With that, I’m gonna tell ya’ that Elvis has just left the building.” Thanks again, sir.)