Sometimes, when you are in the middle of something very special each and every day, you don’t know how very good you have it. Too often, only when a layer of security that has been part of the fabric of your day to day life is ripped away do you really understand just how amazing that layer was. I feel like that is what happened to the Caniac Nation today. With the announcement that Mike Maniscalco, host of Hurricanes pre-game Storm Watch and post-game Aftermath, was let go today by Capital Broadcasting, we realized the stark reality of just how good we have had it from a broadcast perspective. The column below is one that I have been laboring to put the proper words to for the better part of 5 months. With the stark realization that we may no longer have Mike Maniscalco covering our team, it seemed like an appropriate day to release it. Thanks for all you have done for Section 328 and the Carolina Hurricanes, Mike. You will be missed.
I’m going to show my age here a bit. As a kid of the 80’s and 90’s, I grew up on sports radio. I recall lying in my bed late at night with a Walkman and tuning into to a scratchy feed of Mike Lange broadcasting the Pittsburgh Penguins game and telling me of the exploits of Mario Lemieux and Paul Coffey. I vividly remember the first time I came across a loud brash late night show called On The Bench w/ Scott Ferrell and knowing that was what I wanted to do when I grew up. The voices painted a picture. They spoke to me and made me part of something bigger. To this day I’m immediately transported back to being a kid whenever I hear either of those two gentlemen on the radio. It’s like being part of a special group with a secret language. If I tell someone to “scratch my back with a hacksaw” and they get it, I automatically assume they are good people. If I tell someone that I want a “shot and a beer shot and a beer shot and a beer, eye gouge” and they tell me to “Shake it up…” I know I’ve met a comrade. It’s kinda like this little hockey world we live in where you get to know the vernacular, the voices, and the great people associated with the game.
This past hockey season was one of fairly monumental proportions for myself and my family. It was the first season in which my 1 year old son regularly attended hockey games. He grew from a crawler to a walker to a walking talking hockey loving toddler in the time it took to reach game 82. But what I didn’t realize is the impact that the voices of the game would have on this little mind quickly soaking everything up. It was around game 45 when I noticed a change. When we were watching games at home, and Michelle McMahon would come on the screen, my crawling, toddling going everywhere little man would freeze, and stare at the screen in amazement. I’m not sure if its because he is a fellow ginger, if it was the tone of her voice or what, but he immediately became enthralled with our Pre-game show host. Then, when John Forslund would make a big “WARD SAYS NO” call or even give us a patented “Hey Hey Waddaya Say” my little man would giggle and clap and get all excited. Then one evening it just hit me like a ton of bricks. These voices that he is hearing right now, just before he turns two, are going to be the voices of hockey that he grows up on. These are going to be the calls and the experiences that he remembers as the start of his sports fandom. Now I know 1 year olds don’t remember stuff, but I can tell you this; Before the age of two, my boy goes and grabs his shoes every time we say the word arena, and his favorite thing to watch on a mobile device is the Carolina Hurricanes app and anything involving Michelle McMahon. These are going to be the bigger than life people and voices that my kid gets to grow up with. The voice of hockey in his world is going to be future Hockey Hall of Famer John Forslund. Michelle McMahon will be his first “anchor crush”. Chuck Kaiton will be the voice of hockey in the car and the guy he learns pronunciations from. Mike Maniscalco will be the voice he falls asleep to on the way home from the game every night. A hall of famer, a future hall of famer, and someone who is bound to end up on ESPN one day are the voices that my kid will grow up with. I can’t think of a greater group of not only voices, but people for my kid to have as role models and people to learn the game from.
But you know what I fear? Like the night I discovered that Scott Ferrell had moved from my one spot on the AM dial I could find him, I fear that one day these voices could disappear from my kids mind. We have it so good here in Raleigh from a broadcast perspective, maybe too good. For those who have paid attention, it seems inevitable that John Forslund is being prepped to be the future voice of hockey in America when Doc Emrick finally hangs up the mic. Michelle McMahon is a rising star as seen by her coverage of NBA and TNT College Sports during the summer. Chuck Kaiton hasn’t missed a game since I was listening to AM on my walkman but how long can that run continue? How long will this organization be able to retain such talented people to continue to deliver us the coverage we have grown to expect. We are so lucky to have these voices. Our broadcast team is engrained in the community deeper than most and so accessible by each and every Hurricanes fan. We’ve had this now for 18 years with John and Chuck and almost 10 with Mike Maniscalco.
Hey Hey We Love John
Michelle immediately became part of the Caniac Nation
I would like to express a very heartfelt thank you to John Forslund, Michelle McMahon, Chuck Kaiton and Mike Maniscalco. You don’t know the amount of times your voices have put a smile on my little boys face, and there’s no amount of wins or losses that will ever be more important than that. So take a minute friends and appreciate what we have in our broadcast teams. Just for once give them a break about the latest trade or arguing who should be staring in net, and just appreciate what they bring to our game, our community, and our lives. When you get a chance, say thank you to our broadcasters because we are very fortunate to have them be a part of Caniac Nation.