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New era, new voices

by Sam Kasan @PensInsideScoop / Pittsburgh Penguins

Tonight the Pittsburgh Penguins will face off against the Chicago Blackhawks in the Windy City.

While it may just be another regular-season game on the ice, though no doubt a fun one with exciting star power, it is a historic night for the Penguins franchise off of the ice.

Particularly, in the broadcast booths sitting high above the ice at United Center. 

For the first time in over four decades neither Hall of Famer Mike Lange nor long-time Pittsburgh broadcaster Paul Steigerwald will not be calling a game.

Steve Mears has taken over the reins as play-by-play man for television broadcasts on AT&T SportsNet, while Josh Getzoff is filling in on part-time basis on the radio site for 105.9 FM, the X.
"The word I keep going back to is appreciation," Mears said. "Appreciation for the opportunity for the people who held that position before me, for the fan support, family support and support from the Penguins organization and AT&T SportsNet."

Mears, who signed a multi-year contract, will call his first of many games tonight between the Pens and Blackhawks.

"It's still surreal to me," Mears said. "I'm just ready to get going and calling games. That's what I love to do. I'm tired of waiting."

Mears, 37, is a Murrysville native who grew up a Penguins fan. He started following the team at 10 years old, right before the club won its first of back-to-back Stanley Cup titles in 1991.

Mears did radio play-by-play for the New York Islanders from 2006-09, as well as international contests. He worked for the Penguins Radio Network from 2009-13 and the last five years as a co-host of "NHL Live" and "NHL Now" on the NHL Network.

"It's funny that we're doing it in Chicago because it's the arena that I've spent the most time in over the last five years with NHL Network," Mears said. "We did two Cup Finals there, the Draft, the Stadium Series, trade deadline. It's ironic it's in that building for our first one."

Getzoff, who has called Penguins' preseason contests over the past two seasons, will be doing play-by-play for his first-ever regular-season game tonight.

"It's something you always dream about to have the chance to do," Getzoff said. "I've thought a lot about this the last few days as it's gotten closer. It's going to be surreal to call the game, bring that to the fans and be their eyes and ears.

"If you aren't nervous and excited for this game, then you're not human. I can't wait to do this. I'm so excited to get in there and do it."

Lange, 69, will still handle duties for all 41 regular-season home games and 15 of 41 road games. But has decided in his 43rd season of NHL broadcasting that it was time to take a step back.

Another major factor in Lange's decision was having Getzoff in tow. Lange has formed a bond with Getzoff during the past two years and trusts him to do a good job.

"As part of this transition, we're all very fortunate to have a talented, young broadcaster like Josh Getzoff here to step in and do play-by-play when I'm not in the booth," Lange said. "He has a very bright future."

Getzoff has high admiration for Lange, and knows that he's not going to be able to fill the shoes of an NHL and Pittsburgh legend. He's just trying to be himself.

"To have this chance to fill in and do play-by-play on Penguins road games when Mike is off on occasion is both exciting and humbling," Getzoff said. "No one can be another Mike Lange. He is one of a kind. But it's an honor to have his guidance and support. I'll just do the best I can for Penguins fans."

Getzoff, who turns 29 years old on Saturday, has been a part of the Penguins Radio Network for the last two years, hosting the pre-, intermission and postgame shows, as well as handling various duties for PensTV and the in-game videoboard.

It's fitting that Getzoff's first career call will be against the Blackhawks. He worked as a sports anchor/reporter and sports director at WICD/WCCU TV in Champaign, Illinois before joining the Penguins.

"Coming from there and coming here I saw a lot of similarities between the two fan bases and franchises," Getzoff said. "Being able to feed off of the energy in (United Center) for their home opener, and a game in Chicago, the anthem, how loud the crowd is. It would be harder to pick a better road venue to do the first game."

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