DeCock

All-Star spotlight finds Hurricanes announcer

Staff WriterJanuary 26, 2011 

— A few weeks ago, John Forslund had no idea what he'd be doing when the NHL All-Star Game came to the RBC Center. Now, he has no idea when he'll have a free moment.

The Carolina Hurricanes' television play-by-play announcer will take on a starring role this weekend, hosting Saturday's skills competition before going into the broadcast booth Sunday to call the game for Westwood One's national radio feed.

"I had no idea, nor did I expect anything," said Forslund, 48. "I'm flattered that they would ask me to perform various roles like this.

"I was hoping I'd have some involvement, being in Raleigh, and this makes it even better. I'm pumped, really excited about this."

The selection is the latest sign of Forslund's increasing national profile. He had worked games here and there for first ESPN and then Versus over the years, calling playoff games and the occasional regular-season game. Then, in 2006, Versus brought him on as the third member of the cable network's regular play-by-play rotation with Mike "Doc" Emrick and Joe Beninati.

That means working from 15 to 18 regular-season games for Versus in addition to his regular workload of 65 Hurricanes games on FS Carolinas. Tuesday, he was in Philadelphia to call the Flyers' game against the Montreal Canadiens.

"The opportunities that have come my way over the last few years have been great," Forslund said. "Anytime you do something like this, if you get the exposure and you do the job the correct way, you'll get more opportunities. It's very fulfilling."

In the pantheon of Hurricanes broadcasters, Forslund is sometimes unfairly overshadowed by the honors of the radio guy and the antics of his TV partner. Chuck Kaiton is the Hall of Famer, the radio voice of the team continuously since 1979, a hockey legend. Tripp Tracy is the pop star, the energetic TV analyst since 1998 after a brief pro career as a goalie.

Then there's Forslund, whose level-headed description and signature calls - "Hey, hey, what do you say!" and "[Goalie's name] says no!" - have won multiple Mid-South Emmy Awards and endeared him to hockey fans in the Triangle and elsewhere.

Forslund is a hockey lifer, an award-winning minor-league broadcaster in his native Massachusetts who became the Hartford Whalers' public-relations man before moving back into the broadcast booth in 1995.

He moved south with the team and put down roots in Apex, where his family has contributed to the hockey culture in the Triangle in other ways. His son, Matthew, 13, is a goalie who has played for the Junior Hurricanes at the Quebec International Pee-Wee Tournament.

Saturday, John Forslund will host the skills competition with CBC's Scott Oake, a veteran Canadian broadcaster. Sunday, Forslund will call the NHL All-Star Game with a newcomer - former Hurricanes defenseman Aaron Ward, who since retiring has been working as a studio analyst for Versus. The two have known each other for years, since Ward arrived to play for the team in 2001.

"It's a moment you mark as kind of your real transition into the realm of media," Ward said. "I've been around him for so long, and I've always associated him with the voice of the Carolina Hurricanes from the TV aspect.

"To sit in a booth and be a part of it on his level, it's pretty exciting."

Always a respected figure within the game, Forslund is finally getting the national recognition his local work has long warranted. If there were broadcasting All-Stars this weekend, he'd be one - and deservedly so.

luke.decock@newsobserver.com, twitter.com/LukeDeCock or 919-829-8947

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