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Tell-Us-Strader: A Fond Farewell

Monday, 07.25.2011 / 12:00 PM / Tell-Us-Strader: a Blog by Dave Strader
By Dave Strader
GLENDALE -- As I’ve recently completed working my 25th season of TV play-by-play in the National Hockey League, I have some news. I have accepted a multi-year offer from NBC Sports Group to be a full-time play-by-play announcer for their NHL package that begins a 10-year run this fall. While there are many factors, both personal and professional, that went into my final decision, it’s not going to be easy to say goodbye to all the wonderful people I’ve worked with in Phoenix over the past four seasons.

Dave Strader
I want to thank the Coyotes (Doug Moss & Mike Nealy in particular) and Fox Sports Arizona (Mike Connelly) for the opportunity they gave me four years ago and continued support they provided throughout my years in the Valley. I certainly knew that I would enjoy working with my good friend Darren Pang, but I made many new friends and gained a tremendous appreciation for the passion and hard work that went into each Coyotes’ telecast from everyone on the crew. While there are too many people to thank individually in this space, I do want to acknowledge my on-air partners: Todd Walsh, Tyson Nash and Bob Heethuis.

When I came to Phoenix from Florida, I was aware of who Todd Walsh was - at least I thought I did. When you cover a team in one conference, you don’t spend as much time focusing on games involving teams on the other side. I certainly watched some Coyotes’ telecasts and kept in touch with Panger during my two seasons in Florida. But when I took the job in Phoenix, one of the first things Panger told me was, “You’re going to love working with Walshy. You guys will get along great.” He was right. Walshy’s sense of humor, his love of hockey, his passion for the Phoenix market, his rapport with players and coaches, his preparation for every show (not to mention his classic rock/game show/60’s-70’s pop culture knowledge) made every telecast and road trip an enjoyable experience. I don’t think I would have kept my sanity throughout the entire bankruptcy/ownership situation without him. I know I have a friend for life in Arizona. Thanks for everything Walshy!

Dave Strader and Tyson Nash.
One of the toughest aspects of the bankruptcy ordeal was losing Darren Pang to St. Louis. It was a decision he had to make considering the uncertainty we all faced at the time. But his departure meant an opportunity for someone else. Enter Tyson Nash. Nasher became part of our broadcast group when Louie Debrusk left the Coyotes’ radio booth and headed to Edmonton to work Oilers’ telecasts. After one season in radio, Nasher was told the day before the 2009-10 season that he was moving into Panger’s spot in the TV booth with me. Let’s just say there’s never a dull moment with Nasher around. He has worked hard to learn the TV business on the fly. Our opening segments of the pre-game show with Walshy became my favorite part of our telecasts. Without Tyson, I never would have met Tyson’s jacket or been entertained on Twitter with his unique sense of humor. Who nose how far…oops, I mean, who knows how far Nasher can go in broadcasting (sorry Nasher, I couldn’t resist). It’s really not much different than when you were a player. It’s up to you.

What can I say about “The Heeter"? He ended up losing his partner Nasher to TV and for the past two seasons had to work most of his broadcasts alone. I know he had experience going solo from his days in minor pro hockey, but it still isn’t easy. Yet, Heeter handled it like he handles everything else with his broadcasts: with the utmost professionalism. I can listen to Bob Heethuis call a hockey game any day. He’s what we call “a good listen” in the business. Well, let me tell you something else: he’s also a “good listen” as a friend. Just as I leaned on Walshy over the past couple of years, I don’t think I had more late night hour-long phone conversations with anyone than Heeter. I’m as happy for Heeter as anyone in the organization that Coyotes’ hockey has a guarantee of at least one more season.

Dave Strader with Don Maloney. Photo by Norm Hall.
All of us involved in Coyotes’ broadcasts are grateful for the cooperation we’ve received from Don Maloney, Dave Tippett, Wayne Gretzky (my first two years) and their staffs; the PR staff; the trainers; the players, led by Shane Doan; also Bronco and “Chief Inspector” Jim for coordinating our road trips (how do you not mention the guys that hand out the per diem envelopes?). It helps to get through a long season when you work and travel with a group that is fun to be around, and that goes for our traveling production crew of Graham (Andy before him), Mike, Meg, Lori (occasionally Trout & Kelly as well) and Dave Vest from the Coyotes’ Web site. I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention our home game stage manager Doris; Jack, Leo and all the security guys at Gate 1, Louie in the parking lot, as well as my buddy Chuck in the media elevator. It was always an enjoyable experience to arrive at Jobing.com Arena for a home telecast.

In closing, I want to thank the fans. Your support for the team and our telecasts has meant a lot to me. I hope you’ll stay in touch via Twitter (did I mention that I’m @TheVoiceDS?) and I hope that you’ll continue to watch and support the Phoenix Coyotes on Fox Sports Arizona. I know I will.

Thanks for reading.

Dave Strader
 
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