John Forslund could have on a heavy parka and his well-coiffed hair tucked under a toque.
His sight line for the hockey game could be roughly the same as for the coaches and players, at ice level.
For Forslund, handling the play-by-play for NBC in the 2017 NHL Centennial Classic in Toronto will be unlike any other game he’s worked. And that includes his 22 seasons of calling Carolina Hurricanes games.
The New Year’s Day game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings at BMO Field is being held in conjunction with the league’s 100th anniversary. It also will be the first time Forslund has been a part of one of the NHL’s premier outdoor games.
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“I’m very honored and humbled by it,” Forslund said Friday. “I hope the environment doesn’t overtake me. I’ve never been to one, so it’s going to be different.
“I don’t know what my view of the game is going to be, but I think I’m rink-side, so I’ll be low. It’s going to be a little different and I’m not used to that. But it’s the Centennial game and a terrific honor to do it.”
The 2017 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic will be played Monday in St. Louis as the Blues host the Chicago Blackhawks. Mike “Doc” Emrick will be doing the play-by-play for NBC in that game.
Forslund is working the Canes’ game Friday against the Chicago Blackhawks at PNC Arena. The Canes are on the road Saturday against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but Forslund was given permission by Canes management to leave Saturday morning for Toronto for pregame preparations.
Sean Baligian will step in and handle the Canes’ TV play-by-play in the Tampa Bay game. Baligian is a Detroit-based radio broadcaster who has worked Ontario Hockey League and Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) games in the past.
“I hate to miss our game,” Forslund said. “Last year was the first time I ever missed games. I missed two last year to do two Sundays.
“No, I don’t like missing our games. But the team has been good to allow me to do it and it’s really an honor to do it.”
Forslund said he will handle other NHL games for NBC and NBC Sports Network in the second half of the season but would not miss another Canes game.
Forslund said the forecast for Toronto was snow on Saturday, then 35 degrees and sunny at the 3 p.m. game time Sunday.
“It’ll be different. You’re out of your comfort zone totally,” he said. “It’s the same environment as the players will face and you have to get used to it.”
Forslund said the NBC crew will include analysts Pierre McGuire and former Canes goalie Brian Boucher, along with anchor Kathryn Tappen and roving reporter Jeremy Roenick.
He’s also expecting a good, competitive game with two teams scrambling for points and trying to keep the postseason cutline in sight in the Eastern Conference.
“I just want to do a good job and do it right, and not over-do it,” Forslund said. “That’s important. With a game like this you could really get crazy with history and all these things. You can’t cover 100 years of NHL history in one broadcast.”
NHL Centennial Classic
Red Wings at Maple Leafs
When: 3 p.m. Sunday
Where: BMO Field, Toronto