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Goaltenders usually make the best announcers

Friday, 03.20.2009 / 10:00 PM / Off the Wall

By Evan Weiner - NHL.com Correspondent

Have you ever noticed that there seems to be a disproportionate number of former goaltenders who end up as color announcers after their playing days are done?

Think about it -- John Davidson, Sal Messina, Chico Resch, Bob Taylor, Darren Pang, Greg Millen, John Garrett, Darren Eliot, Daryl Reaugh, Bryan Hayward, Glen Healy, Kay Whitmore, Kelly Hrudey and Ken Dryden are just some of the former goaltenders who analyze or have analyzed hockey games for a living.
 
Goaltenders are outnumbered by a 9 to 1 ratio in every game. So why are goaltenders, like former baseball catchers, so highly prized by TV and radio producers? Davidson was one of the most prominent faces of hockey broadcasting, just like Joe Garagiola, Bob Uecker and Tim McCarver, former catchers, were for baseball. Oddly enough, they all came from behind a mask.
 
"We are not the smartest group of athletes, but I think we have the ability to see a lot of things from our position," said Pang, the Coyotes' TV color announcer who has a lengthy resume that includes ESPN, NBC, TSN, two Olympics with CBS and NBC along with work for the Chicago Blackhawks. "I think a (baseball) catcher, you are looking at outside, where everything is going. From a goalie's perspective, you are doing the same thing, you are looking out, you see it on the offensive side of the puck and the defensive side of the puck. I think more than anything else, your goalies are pretty much individuals on team sports and catchers probably the same thing. We all have different thoughts and we all handle things differently. I don't think you have to be the best goalie to be an analyst, just the ability to put it across the air and have people understand it better.
 
"At the end of the day, a lot of us are yapping guys, a lot of us are talkative people and outgoing people."
 
Pang was a yapper during his playing days with the Chicago Blackhawks. It seems that there were two categories of people that he shared his thoughts with while he toiled between the pipes -- Blackhawks defensemen and officials.
 
"My defensemen first and foremost," Pang said ranking his priorities. "Doug Wilson, Bob Murray, Keith Brown, the second conversation were certainly with the officials. And the officials when I played in the '80s were more talkative. There was more personality. There was only one of them. They wanted to have conversation. They wanted you to know they had your back."
 
Color analysts can be a coach or a general manager of one team or all 30 NHL teams if they want. Pang doesn't have to worry about Coyotes' wins or losses, and for years, Davidson was in the same boat as the New York Rangers' TV analyst. But Davidson left the booth and his longtime partner, Sam Rosen, to go into the St. Louis Blues' front office to run the hockey operations. One thing Davidson learned quickly is that you can leave the game in the broadcast booth, but it is not that easy when you are putting together a team.
 
"All day long, all night long," Davidson said about taking the game home after a loss. "They (Davidson's family) don't like losing either. I got to learn to not take it home. With the broadcasting, when they game is over you go home and you get ready for your next game. With this you live it 24 hours a day."
 
Davidson said he learned a lot from his experience with the Rangers, CBC, ABC, NBC, VERSUS and FOX during an award-winning career as a broadcaster.
 
"I think you look at certain organizations that have done so well over the years, especially the ones that win, you try to pick out different things from various people," Davidson said. "There have been a lot of good people and I thought with the television world, you got to meet them all and especially when you work through the Finals or work the Olympics, you meet the best at what they do. You try to and emulate what they have done but you also have to be your own person."
 
Davidson was coached by Hall of Famer Emile Francis, replaced another Hall of Famer in New York, goaltender Ed Giacomin, who also dabbled in broadcasting with the New York Islanders, and went to the 1979 Stanley Cup Final with Fred Shero behind the Rangers bench. 
"We are not the smartest group of athletes, but I think we have the ability to see a lot of things from our position." -- Darren Pang, former Blackhawks goalie and current television announcer
If things don't work out in St. Louis, Davidson could always go back to his old job, but he also looks at an old baseball catcher as someone he could emulate. Joe Torre.
 
Torre was one of the best at what he did, managing, when he led the New York Yankees to four world titles in five years between 1996-2000. Davidson, the goaltender-turned-broadcaster-turned executive, is a big fan of Torre.
 
"Joe is right. Sports is a wonderful life," Davidson said. "Winning is what it is about, there is no question. You tried to do both with dignity the way he does. I have a lot of respect for Joe Torre. Remember he was in St. Louis too."
 
Goaltenders have always been thought to be different than skaters and in terms of a lot of decision makers in the hockey world, former goaltenders seem to be the right people to explain hockey to viewers and listeners.


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