The Best of Puck the Media: Interviews

(Ed. Note: And here we are at the end of the week.  The NHL has some fantastic announcers, and we’ve interviewed many of them this year.  Here are some of our favorite answers.  See you on Monday.  Hey!  New material then!) 

Mike Lange on How He Got Into Hockey:

I went to Sacramento State College and while I was there, I worked at KERS radio, it was a college radio station broadcasting football, basketball and baseball.  When I was there, I met a gentleman who was also a broadcast major.  His name was Len Shapiro, he was involved with the California Golden Seals at one time, was going to school.  He invited me out to see the Sacramento Ice Hockey Association.  I said to him “I don’t know one thing about hockey.  I don’t know a red line from a blue line.  I don’t know if I really wanna go.”  and he said “You never know, someday you might be involved in hockey”.  

So he convinced me and I went out and, it was my junior year, I worked the penalty box there and the way I got involved in some broadcasting was the fact was that was a unique place.  They would have the league and draw about 400 people per game and the PA announcer was the play-by-play announcer in the building as the game went on.  Now, that was not me the first year, it was a gentleman who was from Canada.  While I worked the penalty box, he worked the small booth and did a descriptive thing of what was happening and naming all the players as the game went along.  

That year ended and he wanted more money the second year to come back.  He wanted ten dollars and the ice hockey association didn’t have ten dollars a game, they were willing to pay him five again.  So he quit, and they asked me if I wanted to do it.  For a college kid, five dollars, that was a pizza and beer.  I’ll take it, and I did [laughs].  

It gave me some great experience, working that, and the same year the college radio station allowed us to broadcast the playoff games and I kept the tapes.  From there it kind of led down the line, I sent out tapes for predominately baseball and other sports, but hockey of course was on my list.  The only strong feeler I thought I might’ve had a chance was in Phoenix, Arizona but there were no jobs available that time.  So I just packed my bags and I moved to Phoenix.  

I found a place to live and I walked to the Phoenix Roadrunners office almost daily and knocked on that door, and lo and behold, finally after five to six months, they asked me to come in and replace a gentleman who’d left, working the public relations and also as the color broadcaster with a gentleman by the name of Al McCoy who is still actively broadcasting with the Phoenix Suns of the NBA.  So that’s how it all came about.  I worked two years there and then I went to San Diego and then I eventually came to Pittsburgh in 1974.

Daryl Reaugh on Whether or Not He Likes Where the Game is Headed:  If you’d asked me that a couple years ago I’d have said, not really. The game was becoming too much like a European pro league, and believe me that’s not a good thing. The 15 powerplay games were killing flow and the officiating resembled an NBA standard. But slowly the NHL has again embraced hard-nosed physicality and on-ice passion. I now question whether the game has ever been better. The only caveat is that they still don’t allow the game to stop long enough to allow broadcasting to properly do its work – to show replays, to tell stories, and to explain the hows and whys. An extra 10-15 seconds out of commercial breaks or on face-offs could go a long way in helping sell the game and the individuals. I never fully understand why they are in such a hurry to get the game over?! 

Jack Edwards on… well… you know:

Okay, first of all, everybody has a right to his opinion, and I enjoy strong opinions.  What I don’t respect is people who call names and throw mud and don’t actually follow through and consider what the story really is.  

If you go back and if you listen to the illegally posted, copyrighted material thats on YouTube [we both chuckle] I clearly refer to “the crowd wants a call for a hit from behind”.  That is what was so hilarious.  Because even before we knew that Patrice Bergeron had a broken neck on the 27th of October, 2007.  Even before we knew what the result of the examination was.  While he was still unconscious, the Flyers had issued a public relations release, and the Philadelphia media swallowed it whole, to the point that some columnist in Philadelphia actually wrote that Bergeronknew the hit was coming.  

Funny, but I’ve talked to Patrice Bergeron dozens of times about that incident, and at no point does he say anything about any kind of knowledge that Randy Jones, who was skating straight at Bergeron’s back, who coiled as you can clearly see in the replay, Jones coils as he crosses the goal line and drives Bergeron 90 degrees straight into the dasher, hitting to hurt.  Clearly evident that even the lenient Colin Campbell agreed and suspended Jones for the game.  

The Philadelphia media swallowed the PR spin whole to the point that the Philadelphia fans now, in revisionist history, a lot of them think that hit by Jones was not a significant hit.  That there was no problem with it, and that it was just the circumstance that resulted in Jones’ suspension.  For that crowd to whine and moan after a perfectly legal shoulder-to-shoulder hit, that sent Jones in a non-threatening angle down behind the goal, not face first but sideways into the boards.  For them to whine that there should be a hit from behind, frankly, was hilarious.  Anybody who can’t connect those two dots, and see the humor in the crowd, not at the hit by Lucic but the crowd’s reaction, you’re distorting the story or have no sense of humor.

Bob McKenzie on Eklund: I don’t have any problem with Eklund or anyone else for that matter. It’s a big world and there’s lot of room for everyone and ultimately the fans decide who has staying power and who is worthy of the fans’ time and effort. The Hockeybuzz site is a decent place to go to see a sampling of what’s going on around various spots in the NHL. I originally started going there because Tim Panaccio did a great job of covering the Flyers on a daily basis and I get a kick out of Panotch, he’s an old friend. There are others there who do good work, too. As for Eklund, he seems like a nice enough guy. I think he was most relevant during the lockout when both sides – the NHL and NHLPA – decided he had a forum that was talking to players and media and they decided to use him as a middle man. Since then, though, two things have happened. One, there are hardly any trades in the NHL any more so that can’t be good for a site that is founded on the premise of hockey rumors. Two, many of the rumors I’ve seen there, and they get picked up elsewhere (even by some mainstream outlets), are so incredibly unfounded and baseless. I’ll see a rumor there, make two calls to the supposed principals involved and I find out very quickly there’s absolutely nothing to it. I mean, the two teams mentioned haven’t even spoken to each other on that player. But that isn’t to say there aren’t occasions when a rumor there becomes reality or some bit of news is broken there. I’m a live and let live kind of guy, for the most part, so I don’t begrudge anyone trying to make their way in the business. The public ultimately decides who stays or goes and that’s fine by me.

Gord Miller on the Rise of the World Junior Tournament:

I think the real watershed moment for the tournament was in 1991, the first year TSN broadcast the event.  All the Canadian games were televised for the first time and Canada won on home ice with Eric Lindros as the centrepiece attraction.  For years, the final game between Canada and the Soviets–featuring a 19 year old Pavel Bure–was the highest rated event in TSN’s history.  Today, WJC games hold down nine of the top ten spots all time.

The key to TSN’s coverage is story telling: taking kids that most people don’t know and telling their stories to make people feel connected to them.  There’s also the chance to see the top players from around the world for the first time, before they arrive in the NHL.

That, combined with the holiday season, Canada’s love of international hockey and the enthusiasm of the players has made it the “perfect storm”.

John Buccigross on How the NHL Can Keep Trending Up:  To continually make adjustments to the game that favors the offense and while not sacrificing the sandpaper aspects of the game.  Hockey is a game of vinyl not digital.  Toughness must be one of the core values.  But, so much speed, quickness, and time and space.  That keeps the league young and vibrant.  Hockey is a young man’s game.  Maurice Richard was 23 when he scored 59 goals in 50 games in the 1944-45 season.  Bobby Orr was 22 when he scored 120 points and flew through the air to win his firstStanley Cup in 1970.  Wayne Gretzky was 21 when he went 92-120-212 in the 1981-82 campaign.  Other than that the NHL has little control on what players enter it’s league.  That is the job of Hockey Canada and USA Hockey and those two organizations are obviously doing a great job.  The level of hokcey player that is entering the NHL in terms of physical skill set blows away what was in the NHL even 10 years ago.  Ratings are up because of the young star power and High Definition.  Also, big market teams are doing well.

Finally, Joe Beninati on Favorite Travel Destinations: I am very fortunate to have a job that I love, that brings me around the country and around the world.  I remember great trips to Stockholm, Helsinki, Cologne, and Torino for the World Cup of Hockey on ESPN and the Olympics on Westwood One radio.  I’ve been given wonderful opportunities in the past three seasons to call the Eastern and Western Conference final in the Stanley Cup Playoffs on OLN and VS.  It’s tough to beat a college football atmosphere anywhere, (the scenery in the Mountain West and PAC-10 is incredible) much less some of the awesome experiences I have had in the SEC.  I’ve always loved visiting San Francisco and my lacrosse travels bring me back there, with the occasional day or two to stay over and visit wine country. 

One Response to The Best of Puck the Media: Interviews

  1. Thanks, I needed a reminder of why Jack Edwards is so awesome.

    Can’t wait to hear him call play by play again!

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