John Forslund is a Carolina Hurricanes institution, serving as television play-by-play announcer for the team since its move to Raleigh and years before, too, with the Hartford Whalers. But what if his tenure had been cut short by a full-time gig at NBC along the way, or could be so sometime in the next few years with a national job opening upon the retirement of Doc Emrick?
It’s hard to imagine Forslund forgoing an extension with the Canes during any point of his career thus far, assuming contract negotiations went fairly and smoothly. Forslund was with the franchise when it moved to North Carolina and said he took pride in the fact that he was a part of the growth of a “burgeoning team.”
But what if he hadn’t moved? What if he was concerned with staying near a national market, and opted to stay within reach of NBC execs (or those of ESPN, who held the national NHL contract at the time) or, potentially, join the ship after departing his Hartford gig?
It’s hard to backtrack and try to pick out specific replacements for Forslund at the time, but there are a few that would be interesting thought scenarios.
For example, what if J.P. Dellacamera showed up free along the way? I know, I know -- why would we ever entertain the idea of a Thrasher-affiliated broadcaster? But at the time Forslund got his start with the Hurricanes, he hadn’t begun with the Thrashers. His tenure was from 2003 to 2008.
But listening to Dellacamera’s calls, I couldn’t help but notice a severe drop in energy level during the big moments of a game. Maybe it’s partly due to his voice carrying less heft, but his goal calls — more so in hockey than in soccer, the sport he calls the most — lack energy, and he doesn’t seem to care much at all about calling the opponent’s goal.
Another fun one to consider is the man who hopped around a bit over his 2,000+ games called: Jeff Rimer. Now the play-by-play man for the Columbus Blue Jackets, he also spent time with the Washington Capitals and Florida Panthers, including calling games for both teams in the same season.
Rimer definitely packs a punch for goals and clutch saves and has a pretty agreeable tone of voice, but there’s just something with his long “S” sounds that I can’t seem to get over.
But it’s hard to entertain the idea of Forslund leaving before now. I mean, come on -- even though he’s increasingly worked with NBC for playoff broadcasts, he saves, “Hey, hey, whaddya say?” for the local broadcasts of a team that hasn’t seen the playoffs in nine seasons. That’s relationship goals.
He’s also just a gem to listen to. How Forslund manages to scream without any sign of cracking his voice or overpowering the audio system capabilities is beyond me.
After the Hurricanes were unable to come to terms with Chuck Kaiton this offseason, serious questions emerged about what may happen to Forslund, given the reliance of NBC on him as a play-by-play announcer. Would he join the national market — one he was concerned with reaching in his early days — or try to work out something in Raleigh?
Thankfully, he’s around for another two years at least, but the most likely candidate for his position had he left this summer is a little clearer than it would have been years ago: Jason Shaya.
Shaya has been the voice of the Charlotte Checkers since 2007 and has learned the team from the ground-up through the process. He’s markedly improved in his on-camera appearances since he started doing field reports on home game days years ago.
Shaya made his NHL broadcast debut in last season’s 8-1 loss to Toronto (boy, talk about being thrown into the fire), and reaction trended pretty favorable. Plus, that voice!
With no @JohnForslund today, we get @Jason_Shaya making his NHL debut in the broadcast booth. But it's not the first time Jason has been pressed into duty!— FOX Sports Carolinas (@CanesOnFSCR) December 19, 2017
Catch Jason's first game on FSCR and #FoxSportsGO! Puck drop at 2:00 p.m.!#Redvolution pic.twitter.com/xdD35MzLc7
But it would also be interesting to hear from Dallas Stars broadcaster Daryl Reaugh, too. Reaugh got his start in NHL broadcasting with the Whalers alongside Forslund (I even found the Courant article that mentions that hiring (bottom of story)).
But Reaugh is now the color analyst for the Stars and served as a long-term fill-in play-by-play man after the untimely death of Dave Strader, and it’s hard to imagine he’d jump ship so soon, especially given those unfortunate circumstances.
Still, it’s fun to entertain the idea of a guy who drops Tupac song lyrics into broadcasts taking over the Canes booth.
For now, though, let’s appreciate the guy we’ve got. He’s a national talent whose stuck it out with us all these years, and he’s as loyal as he is entertaining.