Another week has passed and that thankfully brings us ever closer to on-ice activities. Before I begin to turn the focus of the column where it belongs, I do feel compelled to share some thoughts about off-ice moves made at the beginning of August.
The Nashville Predators will see some changes in the broadcast booths for both TV and Radio. Most notably, longtime color analyst (and overall good guy) Terry Crisp will move to a pre/post-game TV analysis role for home games at Bridgestone Arena. His knowledge and overall hockey charm will be missed on a game by game basis but some Crisp is much better than none. He will be joined by Mark Howard.
This is the first ever change to the main TV broadcast duo in Predators history. What a great run for Pete and Terry that will never be forgotten by the many fans who literally grew to know the game by listening to them. I personally will never forget many of their pre-game meal stories and their kindness to a young blogger back when I first made my way into the media section. I’m not totally sure Crisp knows my name but I would be willing to bet if he saw my face he would give his usual, “Hey blogger!” to me. Glad to see he will still be involved in a way that’s more appropriate for him and his family.
Stu Grimson will move from the radio side to TV color analyst. Taking over the sideline reporter role will be newcomer to the city of Nashville, Lyndsay Rowley. She will be the first ever female to be used in a Predators broadcast. I’m all for diversity in broadcasting having gone to college with many quality female journalists with a passion for sports and applaud Nashville for this hire. Let’s hope she can bring some great and engaging questions to our TV screen.
Now we move to the radio side of things. Here’s where I have some issue, but let’s give the facts first. A voice that’s been a part of the Predators radio network since it was formed will now take over the play-by-play mantle. Willy Daunic is your radio voice for Nashville going forward. He was the interim last season but now that tag will be removed. Joining him for select broadcasts will be former Predators assistant coach Brent Peterson. This will be a great addition in my opinion. It is noted that there will be other “special guests in the color analyst role including various Predators alumni and sports personalities.” My only question is what happens when Peterson or a special guest is not doing the broadcast? It would appear Daunic will go solo as have some radio play-by-play men in the past for Nashville. (Fan test: Remember when the Preds had Eli Gold, voice of the Alabama Crimson Tide, as the radio play-by-play)
So here comes the dose of reality you’ve likely been reading this column waiting for. For me, having Daunic as the play-by-play man is very much an “expansion team” move. Before I go further let me clearly state this is not an indictment against Willy. I like him being involved in Nashville’s broadcasts and feel he’s earned the spot with his hockey knowledge as the years have gone by. To me this just isn’t the right role. This belongs to a guy like Aaron Sims (Milwaukee Admirals radio play-by-play) or another broadcaster who has toiled in the minor leagues, paid his dues, and is dying to get a crack at the big leagues.
There are times when the Nashville franchise gives loyalty and goes too far or a bit off track. Barry Trotz being one of them obviously, however I feel this is another. Daunic has been with the team broadcasting in one form or the other since 1998 when the franchise was birthed. There are good reasons to feature him which include his intimate knowledge of the history of the Predators and familiarity with the fan base. My issue is that radio play-by-play takes years of practice to be as skilled as a Tom Callahan or Aaron Sims.
It takes a lot of time with the pace of hockey to be able to do well when you reach the NHL level. As someone who at one point wanted to take the play-by-play path and called a few high school games I can tell you it’s a challenge and should not be treated as “on the job” training at the highest levels. Nashville is treating it too lightly for my taste and, based on some feedback when it first was announced, there is a group of fans who feel this way as well.
I’ve been told Sims and others were considered by the Predators before ultimately choosing Daunic. You may ask how we know a guy like Sims would even want to leave Milwaukee? Well you don’t work for years in the minors and never have an end goal of the pros. As Kris featured in his interview earlier this month it seems they felt Daunic was the perfect guy. It is their money and therefore their decision.
So, there’s no need for me to keep harping on why Daunic shouldn’t be the radio play-by-play. To me he is the ideal person to pair with Crisp for the pre/post-game TV show. Those two already have a natural chemistry together, and it lets Mark Howard focus on other sports. With that said, instead of “fantasy booking” the situation, I felt like I should try and understand why the powers that be felt this way… and then it hit me.
The Predators appear to be grooming Willy Daunic to replace Pete Weber whenever he feels it is time to retire.
It’s the only thing that makes logical sense to me. The only reason to keep a good man down is if you have a succession plan to eventually reward his patience. Good managers have succession plans and this might just be one. We’ve even seen signs of this being the case when Pete unfortunately had a health scare last season. Daunic filled in on TV and that was also when Sims got to call an NHL game for radio. So, to me, this signals a future in which Daunic has the inside track to taking over the television duties. I’ll save analysis for that if it happens in the years to come.
That’s my opinion on all things Predators broadcasting. What’s yours? Let me know in the comments or send me a tweet to @brandon_felder using the hashtag #PredsItC. The ItC stands for “In the Corners” and helps us keep one long hockey conversation going. I’m looking forward to the discussion to come from this week’s column.
Till next week, take care.