SAN JOSE -- Dan Rusanowsky, the radio voice of the San Jose Sharks since their inaugural season, had waited 25 years to tell his listeners the Sharks were going to the Stanley Cup Final.
As luck would have it, he got to deliver the good news twice Wednesday, when the Sharks defeated the St. Louis Blues 5-2 in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final.
"Chills up and down my spine when I said it," Rusanowsky said, "and I got to say it twice because Logan [Couture] had that empty-net goal at the end that really clinched it. And everybody knew at that point. But of course, there were a few seconds left to play in the game. Boy, all the thoughts about all the people.
"One of the first guys I thought of as this process was going on was George Gund III (the former co-owner who died in 2013). Unfortunately, he's not here with us, but what a big part he has played in the history of hockey in the Bay Area and in the United States, and how he would have felt had he been here. The ownership that we have is so fantastic, but George was the guy that started it, and I was thinking of him quite a bit as those words were coming out of my mouth."
Rusanowsky has done radio play-by-play for 2,074 Sharks games, including 199 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Since getting the job in 1991, Rusanowsky has missed 27 games, all in 2000 after he nearly died in a car accident.
A motorist ran a red light and hit his car in downtown San Jose at about 50 mph on Nov. 25, 2000, just hours before the Sharks hosted the New Jersey Devils.
"I was in deep trouble," Rusanowsky said. "I had some very serious injuries."
The most serious were a ruptured diaphragm and a fractured femur. Fortunately for Rusanowsky, the accident took place close to a hospital.
"I was having some trouble breathing by the time I got to the hospital," he said. "I was fading in and out and all that. Of course, that was the middle of the afternoon of a game day. So I was telling people, 'Please call the office to let them know that this happened,' because I wasn't going to be able to work."
Rusanowsky spent seven nights in the hospital and missed two months of work before returning to the broadcast booth.
"That's the only time I've ever missed any games. So I've been here through it all," Rusanowsky said.
And now he gets to do radio play-by-play for the Sharks in the Stanley Cup Final, starting with Game 1 on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports) when San Jose faces the Pittsburgh Penguins at Consol Energy Center.
"It's a privilege to call the play-by-play in the greatest league in the world, but it's a real special privilege to be able to be doing this play-by-play of the Stanley Cup Final," Rusanowsky said. "It's going to be a special experience, something I look forward to for a lot of different reasons. I can't wait. I cherish every minute of it and love every minute of it. It's just going to be special for everybody."
San Jose made the playoffs 17 times and reached the conference final three times before this season. But Rusanowsky said there was something special about the 2015-16 Sharks.
"It's been something you could see building with the team," he said. "The first sense you got was that this team was very together and they were very dedicated and they were responding to the coaching staff. They just kept accepting all of these challenges and putting their arms around these challenges all season long.
"By the time we got to the playoffs, nothing seemed to bother these guys. They just seemed very calm and cool and collected and professional. When the going got tough, they seemed to play better, and we've seen that happen all the way through. It's just been a magical run thus far, and of course still a lot of fun left."