Friday, January 12, 2007

20th Anniversary Stuff

-The word has gotten around that I've been doing the Blues P-A job for 20 years now without missing a game. So, I've done a few media interviews about that and I thought I'd share some the info here. No biggie. (By the way...I'm being told now that there will be no recognition of my anniversary at Saturday's game. Too much other stuff to do because of NBC doing the game)

But, I won't scoop Norm Sanders. Norm is the Blues beat writer for the Belleville News-Democrat. I spent about a half-hour with him on the phone Thursday. He says they'll be running a story sometime soon. So, just keep your eye on the N-D for Norm's article.

I also answered a few questions for Tom Settles who writes Blues stuff in a couple of different places, including Here are the questions he posed in an e-mail and my responses.

1) What is the preparation for you to get ready for a game each night?

I usually get to the game early…two hours before gametime…and study the game notes. They usually contain pronunciations of all of the difficult names from the opposing team. If there’s still a question about how a guy’s name is pronounced, I usually try to consult with the out-of-town broadcaster or one of the media relations guys from the visiting team. Other than that, I usually like to get to my position rinkside early enough to go over the promo copy for that night and get my scoresheet filled out so everything is scripted as much as possible. If there are any special ceremonies, or differences in the presentation, I try to chat with Chris Frome (Director of Event Operations) about that.

2) Is there a specific night or goal that sticks out as your favorite over the span of 20 years?

A couple of nights are special to me. The 1988 NHL All-Star game was very special. I announced the lineups live on ESPN. And to see Mario Lemieux, Wayne Gretzky, Brett Hull, and many others all on the ice at the same time was pretty special. Lemieux was MVP of that game at the old Arena. And the Brett Hull number retirement night on December 5th was also very special. Hullie’s career in St. Louis started just after I started doing the p.a. announcing, and I have had a special connection to him because of that. I announced all of the goals that he scored as a member of the Blues.

3) Who has been your favorite player to watch.?

Brett Hull. No doubt. He saved hockey in St. Louis, in my opinion. And, he did things as a player that will never…never’s a long time…but I think never be done again. Al MacInnis is a close second. I also liked watching Brendan Shanahan while he was here...and was very sorry he had to go elsewhere.

4) What seems to be toughest and the best part of your job?

The toughest part has been being away from my wife and sons for as much as the job requires. And there have been a few times where I’ve missed out on some family functions. But not many.

The best part is just being around professional hockey people on a regular basis and having the feeling that you’re part of the sport. Being the p-a announcer is a pretty special part of presenting a hockey game and I enjoy being involved in the action close-up. There are a few perks to being that close to the game that I won’t name…but they are nice too.

5) Learning all the players names must be hard, what has been the worst to pronounce and have any of the players come back to say you did it wrong?

There have been several down through the years that have been a bit of a challenge. But, I have to say…and I hope I don’t sound like a braggart…that the names sort of come naturally for me. I don’t have a lot of trouble with that. Once I understand the origin of the surname, Slavic, Germanic, French, whatever. And once I find out where the player is from…Canada, American, European…there are rules that apply to pronouncing names that usually get you through. Like I said before, if there are any questions I usually consult with a broadcaster, team official, or the player himself.

A few have been pretty challenging. Maxim Afinogenov of the Sabres took a little study the first time I saw it. When Petr Cajanek of the Blues first started playing here, I got a message from one of the Blues media relations guys telling me that I was pronouncing his name wrong. I was saying it Chy’-an-ek , just like we’ve become accustomed to it. The guy said that, then coach, Joel Quenneville wanted me to get it right. I asked around trying to find out how he thought it should be pronounced but never did get two people to say it the same way twice. So, I just kept doing it the way Blues broadcasters Chris Kerber, Ken Wilson and I agreed that it should be pronounced. And I never heard any more about it. I think Rob Niedermayer was in the penalty box one time and I had announced him as Needer-mayer…instead of Needer-myer…and he tapped me on the shoulder and corrected me. But those have been pretty few. It’s usually names like that which can be pronounced correctly in different ways that give you the most trouble. In those cases, you just have to get to know the player and how he wants it pronounced.


Anonymous said...

Tom, it's Greg Kornfeld. Congratulations on 20 years as PA announcer. That's quite an accomplishment (almost as great as 10 years at the Big 550 for me).

The Blues gave you a terrific game for your anniversary on Saturday. They are definitely improving under Andy Murray.

Again Tom, congratulations! Here's to 20 more for you (and 10 more for me).

Anonymous said...

Hey Tom, Congratulations on such a fantastic perfomance in your job! It's Tracy (Lovasz) Sator, and your article got me thinking about the fun times we had working together, notwithstanding cringing at some anthem singers, (I take full blame for those!). Thank you for making my job much easier for those ten years and being the consummate professional, especially when I would throw those 3 x 5 index cards at you over the glass and tell you to read it because I had forgotten to give it to you earlier!! Keep it up!
Tracy Sator