Special to AnaheimDucks.com
His unmistakable voice is synonymous with the Anaheim Ducks, and his goal call each time the team lights the lamp on Honda Center ice is his signature.
Public address announcer Phil Hulett admits his life as the voice of the Anaheim Ducks is a bit like being a kid in a candy store. From calling memorable phrases such as, “Good evening hockey fans!” to “Ladies and gentleman, the Stanley Cup!” Hulett’s path to that coveted spot behind the glass didn’t come quite as he expected.
A SoCal native from Lomita and a lifelong sports fan, Hulett wanted to be behind a microphone since his voice changed as a teenager. While in high school, he created his own radio station, “KROT- Rotten Radio,” using a tape recorder, a piano for sound effects and some old-fashioned creativity.
“My friends loved it,” says Hulett of his early days behind the mic, “and that gave me the positive strokes I needed to pursue this as a career.”
In 1994, while selling advertising for a radio station, Hulett had a nagging hunch he should the give the California Angels front office a call.
“Rather than sell them advertising, I decided to ask for the guy who was in charge of their public address announcer,” says Hulett.
Hulett explained his background in radio and voiceover work and asked if there was a backup announcer on staff. After discovering there was not, Hulett boldly created his own opportunity by asking if he could shadow their current announcer at some of the Angels’ upcoming games.
|Hulett for became the Ducks PA announcer in 1996, but was originally turned down by the team after his first audition. |
During the next homestand, Hulett was in the booth with the Angels public address announcer, the late David Courtney.
“David totally embraced the idea of training me,” says Hulett. “By my third game, I was calling the middle innings. He showed me the ropes and was completely humble about it.”
Still the Angels backup announcer to this day, Hulett’s transition into hockey took more of an indirect route. The same year after he got his start with the Angels, the Mighty Ducks held open auditions for their PA announcer position for the franchise’s upcoming second season.
It was the day after Hulett had undergone double hernia surgery, but he wasn’t about to miss the opportunity. With help from his wife who got him to the arena, Hulett called some goals for the Mighty Ducks management, using all of the over-the-top variations he could muster.
“I was literally splitting a gut,” says Hulett. “I could feel the staples popping.”
For all his pain and effort, Hulett didn’t even make the preliminary cut.
With that door closed for the time being, another one soon opened in the form of the Los Angels Blades, the former professional inline hockey team owned by Jeanie Buss that played at the Great Western Forum.
Informed about an opening for a PA announcer by Courtney, Hulett won that audition outright. Courtney, who at the time was announcing Los Angeles Kings games and working the clock at the Blades games, continued to guide Hulett as he learned the nuances of calling inline hockey.
“That was the season I cut my teeth on the whole hockey thing,” says Hulett.
His work with the Blades led another team to come calling for Hulett and his voice. This time, it was former professional ice hockey minor league team, the Long Beach Ice Dogs. No audition was needed. Hulett was their guy.
“With the Ice Dogs,” Hulett says, “that’s where I really honed my style.”
|“The interaction with fans through social media gives me so much more feedback on what I’m doing than just the noise.” |
That uniqueness caused others to take notice. Two years after being turned down by the Mighty Ducks, Hulett received a call from the team. In 1996 at the beginning of their fourth season, Hulett became the Mighty Ducks lead PA announcer, a position that aside from a short stint away in 2007 and 2008, he has held ever since.
What he loves most about his job lies somewhere between having a front row seat to watch hockey history unfold each night and the relationship created he’s created over the years with the Ducks fan base.
“The interaction with fans through social media gives me so much more feedback on what I’m doing than just the noise,” says Hulett.
It’s that interaction that has helped solidify Hulett’s popularity among the Ducks faithful. Hulett took to Twitter (@PhilHulett) to create a hashtag version of his signature Anaheim Ducks goal call (#AnaheimDucksGoooaaalll), a phrase that instantly caught on with fans and is often seen trending on Ducks game nights.
Just like many of the hockey players he announces, Hulett has a specific pre-game routine that he keeps. After a production meeting and rehearsal, Hulett takes in a meal in the media dining room, one that always includes a piece of pie.
He then heads up to the press box, where he checks in with the visiting team’s broadcasters to confirm name pronunciations. He grabs three water bottles from the cooler, one for each period, heads downstairs and shuffles out to his seat on the ice, making sure to flash a final score prediction to longtime Ducks fans, Stan and Joyce Shapiro (“Mickey and Minnie”).
When asked about favorite Ducks players over the years, Hulett mentions names like Teemu Selanne and Bobby Ryan. But his favorite player from the current roster is defenseman Hampus Lindholm.
“He doesn’t make a lot of mistakes,” says Hulett of the young Swede. “But when he does make a mistake, he almost immediately corrects it.”
Outside of his announcing duties, Hulett spent several years as a radio host on KFWB 980 AM. He’s now the host of “Phil Hulett & Friends” (philhulettandfriends.com), a variety talk show podcast.
Hulett also recently launched a public speaking afterschool program (philhulett.com), offering a way to give local 3rd through 5th graders a head start in being confident speakers in the classroom.
But his true joy remains being behind the microphone at Honda Center, a job he feels blessed to have, but one that has never felt like work.
“If I ever win the lottery, I’d still do this,” says Hulett of announcing for the Anaheim Ducks. “It’s the only job I’d ever do.”