The press release announcing that Chuck Kaiton, John Forslund and Tripp Tracy have renewed their broadcast contracts with the Carolina Hurricanes arrives every few summers and no one gives it much thought. Of course they’re back in the booth. Who else would it be?
Even though this seems like a given, since Kaiton and Forslund have called every locally broadcast Hurricanes game since the team arrived in North Carolina, it’s anything but. They have both turned down opportunities elsewhere, and Forslund’s frequent (and outstanding) work for NBC makes him a potential replacement for Doc Emrick somewhere down the road.
Their excellence is unquestioned: Kaiton, with his inimitable radio STY-le, is in the broadcasters’ wing of the Hockey Hall of Fame and the president-for-life of the NHL Broadcasters Association. Forslund’s NBC air time has earned him the same plaudits nationally that he has long earned locally. And Tracy has improved exponentially over the past decade, both in the quality of his analysis and the pointedness of it, to the point where NBC brought him aboard for a playoff series as well. He might have gotten the job because of his connections to the team and owner, but he’s since earned his seat.
All three are indispensable parts of the Hurricanes’ history and current landscape. They may not be the unabashed “homers” Peter Karmanos has said publicly he would prefer, but fans certainly appreciate their willingness, each to various degrees at various times, to call things as they are – and when a team misses the playoffs eight years in a row, that isn’t always pretty. It’s a delicate dance, because they’re employed by the team, not Fox Sports Carolinas. Honesty is not always the best career policy locally, even if it earns credibility nationally.
This won’t last forever, so enjoy it while it does. Some summer, instead of the contract-renewal announcement, the news is going to be different. But for 20 years, Hurricanes fans have enjoyed some of the finest broadcast work in the NHL, and hopefully for many more.
Luke DeCock: 919-829-8947, firstname.lastname@example.org, @LukeDeCock