The voice of the Seattle Kraken has been identified. Everett Fitzhugh has been hired to call goals, penalties, and hopefully someday a Stanley Cup. The timing makes sense, it couldn’t have happened much sooner since a team with no name hardly needs a broadcaster. And now that the reveal has happened, the voice of the team can be included throughout their various marketing media. But who is Fitzhugh and how did he end up being the team’s selection?
Fitzhugh Has Put in His Time
For the past five years, Fitzhugh has put his talents to work for the Cincinnati Cyclones, the ECHL affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres, as well as being the brains behind their public relations and broadcasting departments. Beyond merely calling plays, he’s been significantly involved in the day-to-day operations of the business and marketing sides, including total responsibility for the social media presence of the Cyclones.
Unfortunately, the team did not make the Kelly Cup Final during his time there so we don’t know how he would have called it, but there are a number of his goal calls available on YouTube. Before Cincinnati, he was in the booth for the Youngstown Phantoms as well as a role with the USHL. All the way back in college he was the announcer for his alma mater, Bowling Green State University. While it’s safe to say he has earned his stripes, it’s also worth mentioning that Fitzhugh is the first black play-by-play announcer in NHL history, something long overdue.
The true greats in this field have honed their craft and do thorough research, but most importantly they have “it”. That certain sound that gets your heart pumping in the game’s key moments. The rising pitch that makes you rush back in from the kitchen when your team gets a breakaway. The cadence that makes it feel like you are there with him at the game.
That’s something you can probably work on, but if you don’t have the right sound, it won’t matter how many hours of practice you devote. In my opinion, Fitzhugh has “it”. Listening to the clips of his career up to this point, you’ll notice how he has improved his timing. His calls get crisper as his resumé grows, and when you get to the Cyclones games from this most recent season, the calls are indistinguishable from big-league announcers.
Sights and Sounds
It’s clear what the organization saw and why they selected Fitzhugh as the first broadcaster in Kraken history. Not only do I think they’ve made the right choice but you cannot underestimate the importance of this hire. If you look back at the major moments in radio and television history, the audio is intricately tied to the video. For the most epic highlights, the sound alone can evoke the picture in one’s mind.
Take Bobby Orr’s flying goal, which is 50 years old and still a part of any believable Top 10 All-Time Goals list, as an example. Time and technology have improved the actual quality of the broadcast recordings, but the off-pitch “Bobby Orr!” is still unforgettable. Or look at Tiger Woods’ chip in on the 16th hole at Augusta back in 2005 with Jim Nance’s epic quote “In your life!” Another example was in 2014 when Steve Raible called the game and the Seattle Seahawks took their first Super Bowl win with the words “Twelves, they’re bringing the trophy home, your Seahawks — Super Bowl 48 champions!“
Listening to Fitzhugh’s highlights and it’s easy to picture him amping up the listening audience when the Kraken score a vital overtime goal or sharing his outrage over a missed call at a crucial moment. I can’t wait to hear him call the team’s first goal and – barring a miracle – fans will have to wait a couple of years, this could be the man who gets to one day say “The Seattle Kraken have won the Stanley Cup.”