For Carolina Hurricanes play-by-play announcer Mike Maniscalco, every day is a gift. Even when stuck in traffic on Raleigh’s notorious I-440 Beltline, he finds reasons to be appreciative for the experience life has given him. Just shy of two years removed from the discovery and treatment of a large mass in his abdomen, Maniscalco now approaches his second season performing his dream job as the TV and radio voice of the Hurricanes, a role he never expected to acquire in the way he did.
“I’m sitting in a seat that I don’t think anybody ever thought was going to be open, including me,” Maniscalco said. “At least, not for a very, very long time.”
Never Shying From Opportunity
Paralleling the unexpected nature of how he acquired his current role, Maniscalco’s first work with the Hurricanes organization came as a surprise, also. In 2016, while working in Winston-Salem, NC, a former member of the Hurricanes broadcast crew gave him a call. An opening as the team’s host for pre-game and post-game shows had arisen, and Maniscalco was offered a chance at securing the job.
During the years when Maniscalco began working with the team, the Hurricanes were midway through a decade-long stretch of missing the playoffs. Never one to shy from adversity, Maniscalco’s coverage and attitude on what was then Fox Sports Carolinas (now Bally Sports South and Southeast) exemplified the resilient nature of the team. As they fought and clawed their way back to relevance, the crew bringing the Hurricanes to TV sets never doubted a return to contention for the Hurricanes. When it finally happened in 2019, it was only fitting for Maniscalco to sit down with Petr Mrazek for one of the most emotionally charged interviews of the last decade.
Thrust Into Massive Shoes
In 2020, as the NHL approached the Playoff Bubble, negotiations between the Hurricanes’ front office and renowned broadcaster John Forslund broke down and concluded without an agreement between the two sides. Just months removed from his surgery (and still in the recovering process), the team approached Maniscalco to suggest he fill in for Forslund during the 2020 Playoffs. Thanks to his familiarity with the team and having filled in during the 2019 Playoffs on the radio broadcast, Maniscalco was ready. He accepted and come Game 1 against the New York Rangers, he was thrust into the job he said was, “always the dream.”
Play-by-play wasn’t a brand new venture for Maniscalco. Throughout his career, he jumped on every opportunity he could to call games. He said that no matter how prestigious the team or how small or large the fan base was, he took every chance he could to get into the booth.
“I knew what was expected for the guy in that that chair, nothing was going to come out of left field for me,” he said, crediting his wealth of experience for preparing him for the role. “I knew I could do it, I just needed the opportunity.”
Despite this, during his stint in the Playoff Bubble, Maniscalco said he found himself being overly critical of his own work. With time to settle into the role and after receiving positive feedback from figures such as producer Jim Mallia, however, the doubt faded away and Maniscalco said he quickly came to love the ride he was on.
Moving into the fall of 2020, the NHL was aiming for a return to play in January as the COVID-19 Pandemic ravaged much of the world. The Hurricanes had still not settled on a permanent replacement for John Forslund and when Maniscalco got the offer to continue with the team as their full-time play-by-play voice, he naturally accepted.
“You have to be ready for it,” he said. “If somebody asks you, ‘are you ready for this opportunity?’ You say, ‘yes.’ Because you never know when that opportunity will come back for you.”
Moving into 2021-2022
During the shortened 2021 Season, the Hurricanes were no strangers to big moments on the ice. For Maniscalco, though, none of the moments on the ice mattered as much as when fans were finally welcomed back into PNC Arena after such a long time without their presence.
“There’s 10 seconds left on the clock,” he said. “What am I going to say that’s going to be any more impactful [than the fans in the arena].” The Canes fans had waited long enough to cheer again, and Maniscalco thought it best to “let the Canes fans bring this one home,” in an emotional victory for Carolina.
As the 2021-2022 Season rapidly approaches, Maniscalco, the team and fans all hope to have more of those special moments. In 2006, when the Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup, they embraced the motto, “Whatever it Takes.” In the broadcast booth, alongside partner Tripp Tracy, Mike Maniscalco has embodied the same resilience and courage that the championship-winning Canes did in 2006. Emotional, poignant and always full of character, Maniscalco has been a perfect fit as the voice of the Hurricanes.
Although I live in Norman, Oklahoma now, I brought with me a love for both ice hockey and the Carolina Hurricanes from my hometown of Raleigh, NC. Along the way, I’ve joined with the OCCC Pioneer newspaper, the OU Hockey broadcasting team and now The Hockey Writers to expand my experience while I complete my degree in Broadcast Journalism.
I’m an alumni of the 2016 Carolina Gold Drum and Bugle Corps and the 2018 Pride of Oklahoma.