Sports

Why departure of Kaiton and simulcast of Hurricanes games won’t change Forslund’s call

The Carolina Hurricanes broadcast team, Tripp Tracy, left, (TV), John Forslund, center, (TV) and Chuck Kaiton (Radio) before an NHL preseason game played between the Carolina Hurricanes and the Tampa Bay Lightning at the PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C. on Sept. 30, 2016.
The Carolina Hurricanes broadcast team, Tripp Tracy, left, (TV), John Forslund, center, (TV) and Chuck Kaiton (Radio) before an NHL preseason game played between the Carolina Hurricanes and the Tampa Bay Lightning at the PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C. on Sept. 30, 2016. cseward@newsobserver.com

For John Forslund, the Carolina Hurricanes going to a simulcast of their games this season won’t be that big a change.

Games without Chuck Kaiton on the radio? That will be strange, Forslund said, but his call of the Canes games will remain the same.

The Hurricanes announced this week that Kaiton, for 39 years the radio voice of the Hurricanes franchise, would not return. The Canes instead will use the television audio feed from the games on their radio network, with Forslund handling the play by play and Tripp Tracy the analysis in calling the games.

“I’ve known Chuck since the 1980s and worked with him since 1991,” Forslund said Thursday. “We worked together, we traveled together. That’s why this is such a shock. I just want what’s best for Chuck.

“It is going to be different, but at the same time we have a job to do and have to continue to do it, to earn the trust of the listeners.”

Forslund will be beginning his 24th consecutive year as the Hurricanes’ play-by-play man and Tracy his 20th year as analyst, and the games again will be televised by Fox Sports Carolinas.

“I really don’t think it will be that different for me,” Forslund said. “My call has always had a lot of directional in it, so it may just be a little tweaking for the (radio) listeners.

“I’ve gotten a lot of emails from people who are visually impaired who say they can follow my call -- where the puck is in the zone, when and where the puck is in the neutral zone, when the puck is along the boards or the action along the walls. It all goes back to my radio roots.”

From 1984 to 1991, Forslund called the Springfield (Mass.) Indians’ American Hockey League games on radio. He handled those broadcasts solo, just as Kaiton has for many years, and said, “I could do a straight radio call again, if I had to.”

Before all of the Canes games were televised, Forslund would join Kaiton in the radio booth. They were there together at PNC Arena -- then the RBC Center -- on the June night in 2006 when the Canes won the Stanley Cup championship as NBC’s national broadcasters worked the game.

Forslund, Kaiton and Tracy forged a strong professional bond as a broadcast team and a personal friendship that transcended the calling of hockey games. The three did a lot to educate fans in the Triangle and the state about the sport, to help establish the Hurricanes in North Carolina’s sports landscape.

Carolina Hurricanes goalie Scott Darling takes questions from young hockey campers during an appearance at Raleigh Center Ice on July 24, 2018. Darling later went on the ice to work with the goalies at the camp.

Kaiton’s departure has shocked and saddened many Canes fans, although it was not totally unexpected. His contract expired June 30 and Don Waddell, the Canes’ president and general manager, had talked of how radio broadcasts had become financially problematic and that a simulcast of the games was being considered.

Forslund said his calls of the games, and Tracy’s comments, tend to be more on point and less conversational. That should play well in a simulcast. Some old radio habits also should help, as well, he said.

“I like to give the score a lot, probably more than most TV guys,” Forslund said. “The score and the time. It’s there and people can see it on TV, but I’m always aware that not everybody is watching, that some could be away from the TV but listening, or streaming it and listening, or there are some who are visually impaired.”

Forslund is not sure how the two intermission periods will be handled to best fit a simulcast. Kaiton had prerecorded content to use during intermission breaks on radio.

“John Forslund is one of the top play-by-play men in our sport and we are confident his call will sound terrific on the radio as well,” Waddell said in a statement.

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