"Good evening Predator fans and welcome to Nashville Predators hockey."
These familiar words from play by play announcer Pete Weber greet Predator fans at the outset of each Predator broadcast on Fox Sports Tennessee when the Preds are on the ice. Pred fans have been serenaded by the humor and knowledge of Pete and color man Terry Crisp since we have had a team on the ice. I want to take a moment to acknowledge the expertise and professionalism of our broadcast tandem. If, like me, you have listened to other broadcasters, you realize what a treat it is to have Pete and Terry provide the play by play and analysis for our games. I had the opportunity to visit with Pete and Terry on the recent west coast swing that the Preds completed two weeks ago, as well as the road game in St. Louis a month ago, and I want to share some of my observations.
Pete Weber is often referred to by partner Terry Crisp as "Peteypedia", and rightfully so. Pete possesses an encyclopedic knowledge not just of hockey, but sports in general. Many fans may not realize Pete's extensive sports background. He has been the voice of the Buffalo Bills (and yes, he endured four straight Super Bowl losses), and has been involved extensively with the Buffalo Bison AAA baseball franchise. Pete was the radio voice of the Buffalo Sabres. Pete also worked for the Los Angeles Kings hockey club as a color commentator, as well as the Seattle Supersonics of the NBA. Pete has been inducted in to the Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame as a broadcaster. He has an an extensive sports background in minor league baseball as well as college sports. This wealth of experience and contacts comes to the fore when Pete calls a game, and he has a variety of anecdotes and humor that he brings to each broadcast. Spending time with Pete in St. Louis was an experience. There are few people in sports that have his extensive contacts, and he can relate a variety of stories that tie in to the nightly broadcasts. Perhaps the greatest compliment that I heard about Pete is what Gerry Helper, Senior Vice President of Communication and Development for the Predators, said about Pete. He told me that the best decision he made regarding the franchise was hiring Pete.
Color man Terry Crisp brings a wealth of experience to the broadcast. Crispy has his name on the Stanley Cup three times, two as a player with the Philadelphia Flyers and once as the Head Coach of the Calgary Flames. Crispy knows what it is like to be on the ice competing as a player and what it means to stand behind the bench and coach a team to the pinnacle of success in the NHL. Crispy is an interesting individual, who can regale you with stories from his days as a player and a coach. That perspective is priceless, because he knows what to look for as a game unfolds. Crispy has a great sense of humor and is quick with a laugh, and his insight into the game flows easily during a broadcast. I had the opportunity to just sit and listen to Crispy and Bobby Pflager, a former NHL player, trade stories from their playing days, and it was fascinating. Crispy understands the life of an NHL player, both on and off the ice. We are fortunate to have a color man the caliber of Crispy to provide his views for each game.
The Predator games are second to none when it comes to production quality. While Pete and Terry are the faces and voices of the broadcasts, there are a number of unsung heroes that make it happen each night. While in Anaheim, I had the opportunity to go in the truck and watch the broadcast team in action. These guys (men and women) are true pros and very skilled at what they do. During a broadcast, Pete often refers to "Helmut". Helmut is Bob "Helmut" Kohl (Helmut Kohl was the former was the former Chancellor of Germany for you non-history buffs), the Producer and Director of Broadcasting for the Preds. Helmut is the man that runs the show and is responsible for the overall production of each Preds broadcast. Helmut is a true professional that personally cares about each broadcast and the quality of the production. He is ably assisted by his director, Karen Roncelli, a focused and very talented professional. Brett Newkirk is the Editor/Font Coordinator/Videographer and jack of all trades. David Raynack is the EVS Operator. During the trip out west, I saw the professionalism that each of these individuals bring to their craft. I also saw how they functioned as a team, and it was impressive. Pred fans may not realize what goes into the broadcasts we enjoy, but be assured that we have a team of consummate professionals that ply their craft with enthusiasm and competence that is unparalleled.
Finally, they newby to the team this year is radio man Tom Callahan. Tom has extensive experience in radio and broadcasting, most recently with the Peoria Rivermen Hockey Club, an affiliate of the St. Louis Blues. Tom brings his expertise and enthusiasm to each broadcast on the Preds radio network.
Preds fans are fortunate to have these talented individuals that bring us the action each game. From the faces (and voices) of the team to the folks that make it happen so well each game, these people deserve our praise and thanks.