Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Mike Lange: WTF?

It was more than a month ago, but at the time I was just speechless. I mean, the guy's in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Voice of the Penguins for 30 years. You don't just drop a guy like that. But they did - back at the end of June, Fox Sports Pittsburgh took an early exit clause in his contract to drop play-by-play man Mike Lange from the Penguins TV broadcast team. I'll be cow-kicked.

As I mentioned in my first post, Lange was the inspiration for this 'blog's title and URL. When I didn't have cable, Lange was on radio. When I got cable, he was doing play-by-play on TV. I can't imagine watching Penguins hockey without him.

Supposedly it was a money issue, a tough contract negotiation. They're replacing him with Paul Steigerwald, who used to do color commentary on the radio with Lange and stayed on radio as play-by-play until now. I have nothing against Steigy, but even if he was a really good play-by-play man, he couldn't compete with Lange. And if FSN wanted a "fresh voice" as they say, then they would have hired someone new to the market.

I suppose there will be a lot of changes this season. At the end of last season the Pens fired their general manager (another hall-of-famer) Craig Patrick, famous for the trades that got us the Stanley Cup. I don't disagree with that, it seemed like he'd been coasting for a while. The new GM did some housecleaning, dropping scouting and assistant coaching staff that had been with the organization for years (Joe Mullen, Rick Kehoe), and even the bench staff like 18-year equipment manager Steve Latin. (Sivvy!)

And purportedly we have a new owner now. We're working on a new arena - I just hope it's in Pittsburgh.

But all is not lost. This week Lange announced that he's taken his old job back, doing radio play-by-play for the games. (Which is now Steigerwald's old job!) The Penguins control their radio staff, not the TV staff. So I'll have to figure out a way to synchronize the radio broadcast with the TV - because I use a TiVo, which buffers live TV, my video is a few seconds behind broadcast realtime, and the radio has typically been several seconds ahead when I've had both on in the past.

But still, firing Lange? WTF?

Post-Gazette coverage:

Cow-kicked: FSN fires Lange as Penguins' TV voice (Friday, June 30, 2006)
Strong negative reaction surfaces to dismissal of Penguins' TV voice (Saturday, July 1, 2006)
Shero continues to make changes (Friday, July 28, 2006)
Penguins, Lange agree to 1-year deal (Friday, August 4, 2006)

1 comment:

Bizzatchio said...

Thank God for Mike Lange. And with the Pens playing so well, he's really at the top of his game right now. I love NHL.com for letting me hear the game from wherever I am in the world.