As the NHL Playoffs get set to start next month, one team’s television broadcasts will have a different sound. Earlier this month it was reported that the Carolina Hurricanes had not come to terms on a new deal with TV play-by-play man John Forslund. On Thursday, the team announced that on-ice reporter Mike Maniscalco would take over play-by-play duties for the team’s games on FOX Sports Carolinas.
“It’s bittersweet,” Maniscalco told Luke DeCock of the News Observer. “That’s the only word I can use.”
Maniscalco joined the Canes’ television crew at the start of the 2016-2017 season after exiting Buzz Sports Radio and 99.9 the Fan in Raleigh, where he hosted pre and postgame coverage of the team. In addition to serving as on-ice reporter, Maniscalco hosted intermission reports and pre-game coverage on FOX Sports Carolinas.
He gives a lot of credit to his predecessor. Maniscalco told Barrett Sports Media that John Forslund was integral in helping him make the transition from radio to TV.
“John taught me to be myself and not to change because there is a camera,” Maniscalco said. “He told me be the guy on the radio that I had always been and everything else takes care of itself.”
Forslund will still be calling hockey when games restart. He will be in Toronto, inside of the NHL’s Eastern Conference bubble, calling games for NBC.
Hurricanes management offered Forslund a new contract when his expired on July 1. Under the new deal, he would become an independent contractor and offer a bonus structure tied to attendance. Although Forslund chose not to sign, team GM Don Waddell said that the team would “keep the door open” for Forslund to return.
“That’s nice of him to say. But what does that really mean, though?” Forslund asked in an interview with The Athletic’s Sara Civian. “There’s no dialogue. I would never look at a statement like that and scoff at it, but I want the reality to be there too, of, there isn’t anything happening. I don’t want any false pretense or anything like that with the fans. There’s nothing happening between myself and the team. And until that happens — or if it never happens that’s understandable — then I have to deal with the reality of being free for the first time in my career. It’s the first time in my career I’ve been in a position like this. I’m not really good at it.”
Waddell said that he likes the crew in place and “we’ll get through this and see where we go.”
The team has not committed to Maniscalco remaining in the play-by-play seat beyond the end of this season. Still, he says the opportunity to call NHL playoff hockey for this club “means everything” to him.
“Rod Brind’Amour, the rest of the coaching staff, the players, the training staff and doctors, the front office, everyone there has always treated me so well,” he told BSM via text. “It’s an honor to have this opportunity. I want to carry on the tradition of excellent broadcasters the club have had and do the best job possible for as long as they let me.”
The Carolina Hurricanes open the qualifying round with a best of five series against the New York Rangers on August 1. Maniscalco will work with Tripp Tracey, who remains as the color commentator for Hurricanes games on FOX Sports Carolinas.
Jim Nantz Believes Ryan Fitzpatrick Has Future In TV
“I’ve always said that is a guy that will be, if he wants to be, a great piece of television talent down the road.”
Every network is usually out there looking to find the former athlete who can have success in a second career as a broadcaster or a TV analyst. For Jim Nantz, he believes there is one quarterback out there that, if he wants a job in the business, would be the perfect guy for it.
During an appearance on the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast with Jimmy Traina, the name that Nantz mentioned was Ryan Fitzpatrick. He said his favorite thing about Super Wild Card Weekend was seeing Fitzpatrick with fans at the game for Buffalo’s playoff win over New England:
“My favorite thing I saw all weekend was Ryan Fitzpatrick,” Nantz told Traina. “What he did was one of the great validations for us fans that these guys actually care. We always want them to be one of us and we know they are getting paid a lot of money to play these games and play for our team, but do they really care? What does it mean to them?
“His [Fitzpatrick’s] journey has taken him to a lot of stops around the league. There he is, sub-zero wind chill factor, shirtless, man of the people, sitting in the stands cheering full-throated lustily for the Bills. That felt good. The fan side of me loved it. I just thought it said so much about him.”
While Nantz isn’t sure what Fitzpatrick has planned for his future after football, he thinks whatever the Harvard alum with the notable beard wants to do, it will be great.
“I don’t know what his second act is going to be, but I am going to predict it’s going to be huge,” Nantz said.
“There’s something about him. I’ve gotten to know him virtually every stop along the way in his NFL career and maybe he’s not even finished playing, but he wasn’t doing that to try to generate attention. He probably didn’t know the guy who shot that was going to post it. That’s Ryan Fitzpatrick. He has always had a way with a sense of humor and a way with phrasing things.”
One of the qualities that Nantz likes about Fitzpatrick is how real of a person he is and he would vouch for him if somebody asked:
“I’ve always said that is a guy that will be, if he wants to be, a great piece of television talent down the road,” said Nantz. “That’s there if he wants it. I would definitely make a run at him if somebody ever asked me. Maybe there’s something else he wants to do, but the thing is he is very real and that is a quality that’s worth a lot.”
Former Fox Sports Exec David Hill: ESPN’s ‘Monday Night Football’ Is ‘Unlistenable’
“I think ESPN’s ‘Monday Night Football’ is a disgrace. The broadcast feed is almost unlistenable.”
Former Fox Sports president David Hill is not a fan of ESPN’s current Monday Night Football broadcast crew, which he expressed bluntly in a conversation with the New York Post‘s Andrew Marchand.
In the latest edition of his premium “Sports Clicker” newsletter (subscribe here), Marchand talked to the former Fox executive about his newest endeavor. Hill was contacted by Greg Norman about working on a new golf league. The challenge is to innovate the way golf is covered on television and attract an audience much younger than the average 65-year-old who watches the sport.
The only sport that isn’t struggling with how to present itself on TV and streaming these days is the NFL in Hill’s view. Having overseen Fox Sports when the network got into the NFL business, he has some clear thoughts on the current product. And he’s not a fan of what ESPN is doing with Steve Levy, Brian Griese, and Louis Riddick on its showcase NFL broadcast.
“I think ESPN’s ‘Monday Night Football’ is a disgrace,” Hill told Marchand. “The broadcast feed is almost unlistenable. I think that’s why they decided to use the Mannings.”
Though he didn’t go into specifics, Hill is a fan of the “ManningCast.” It’s likely that he believes the alternate broadcast does a better job of attracting viewers more interested in video games and consuming their sports digitally.
Hill also praised CBS analyst Tony Romo, NBC broadcaster Cris Collinsworth, and Fox announcer Troy Aikman. His thoughts on Aikman probably shouldn’t be a surprise, though the Hall of Fame quarterback joined Fox Sports’ NFL coverage after Hill had moved on to an executive role for 21st Century Fox.
There’s no way of knowing if ESPN executives hold the same opinion toward the current Monday Night Football team. But that will surely be revealed by whether or not the network decides to bring the crew back for a third season.
Marchand reports that Griese’s contract is nearing its end, so a decision will obviously have to be made if the MNF trio is to return. So that could create an opening for Sean Payton, Pete Carroll, and Sean McVay, the three coaches reportedly attracting interest from TV networks.
ESPN previously talked to McVay about the MNF position in 2020. Of course, he has a chance to reach the pinnacle of the coaching profession if the Los Angeles Rams win the Super Bowl. But maybe he’d want to go out on a high note.
Curiously, Riddick has not interviewed for either the Bears, Giants, or Vikings general manager openings after talking to the Lions, Texans, and Jaguars last year. But if that changes and Riddick moves to a team’s front office, ESPN would have to replace two broadcasters in its three-man booth.
Maybe ESPN will consult Hill on its future direction for the MNF booth. OK, probably not. But Hill certainly appears willing to consult.
Tony Stewart Joins Fox Sports Booth For Busch Clash, Daytona 500
“Tony brings Hall-of-Fame credentials and one of the most informative and entertaining voices in motor sports,”
NASCAR Hall of Famer Tony Stewart will hop in the FOX Sports booth as a guest analyst next month for the Busch Light Clash and the season-opening Daytona 500 alongside Mike Joy and Clint Bowyer.
“To call the very first Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum AND the Daytona 500 is an opportunity you don’t pass up,” Stewart said in a FOX Sports release. “The size and scope of both these races is massive, and it’s an honor to be a part of them with FOX. Anytime you get to talk racing with Clint and Mike, you’re going to have a good time.”
Stewart, the co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing, won three championships as a driver and last competed in the Cup Series in 2016. He also helped form the Superstar Racing Experience (SRX) last summer, in which he ran all six races.
Former NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon had been in the booth since 2016, but was named Vice Chairman of Hendrick Motorsports last summer. So Stewart will take his spot for the time being.
FOX has not yet announced a full-time replacement for Gordon.
Stewart is not totally green to the booth as he and Bowyer did get some reps together last season when they joined Adam Alexander for the season-opening NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Daytona.
“Tony brings Hall-of-Fame credentials and one of the most informative and entertaining voices in motor sports,” said Brad Zager, FOX Sports President of Production & Operations and Executive Producer.
“There is an obvious chemistry between Smoke and Clint, and there is no one better than Mike at bringing a broadcast all together.”
The Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum will air Sunday, Feb. 6 at 6 p.m. ET on Fox. The 64th annual Daytona 500 is scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 20 at 2:30 p.m. ET.
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